Paynes Player Ratings

By Luke Payne, Feature Writer

Before we begin I just wanted to quickly apologise for the delay in getting this article out. As I stated previously I simply didn’t have the time Saturday evening to get them written to the standard I expect of myself so I decided it was best to wait and make sure I could write it properly the next day. Thank you so much for your patience as well as all of your support. My platform’s grown a lot this season and that’s entirely down to people like yourselves taking the time out of your day to read what I have to say. It really does mean a lot to me so thank you once again! Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Lights, camera, action! Sky Sports came calling for The Dons’ latest away game up against automatic promotion rivals Stockport County. It was a hectic affair but no-one would’ve predicted the final result. Mike Williamson’s men fell to a devastating 5-0 defeat. Here’s how I rated the players after the loss at Edgeley Park:

Formation: 5-4-1/5-2-2-1 (Two holding midfielders and two attacking midfielders)

GK – Michael Kelly – 3.5: Was let down massively by his defence but Kelly did himself no favours either. He was blatantly at fault for the first goal, diving in at a through ball before Callum Camps could reach it. However, Kelly fumbled the ball and gave it straight to Camps who got the ball out of his feet and rolled it into the goal, making it 1-0 after 31 minutes. There was little the keeper could’ve done about the second goal but he could’ve done more to stop the third despite it being a one-on-one scenario. Isaac Olaofe ran through on goal and dribbled the ball past Kelly, with the ball rolling directly under Kelly’s hand as he went down to block it, allowing Olaofe to score into an open goal, making it 3-0 after 45+1 minutes. He debatably could’ve got a touch to the fourth goal as well since it was down the middle and taken from outside the box. Kelly did make a couple of big saves including tipping a ball onto the woodwork from a Paddy Madden shot as well as saving the initial header from a corner only to be let down by his defence for the fifth goal. The keeper did receive a few hospital passes but he too looked shaky in possession except from one fantastic ball forward for Joe Tomlinson that sent the wingback one-on-one against the Stockport keeper. Apart from these select positive moments, this felt like watching Kelly when he was outclassed by Brighton’s Under 21’s earlier in the season.

RWB – Kyran Lofthouse – 5: One of the more consistent performers in the team though he did struggle to get involved at times. He looked good on the ball and offered a threat going forward but wasn’t utilised enough. It was his cross that forced a rare moment of uncertainty out of Ben Hinchliffe and led to one of Dons’ major chances of the game. Lofthouse may be part of a defence that conceded five but he wasn’t really at fault for any of the goals and did show fantastic determination to try and get back to prevent the second goal. Sadly his effort was in vain.

RCB – MJ Williams – 2.5: Proved once again that he’s not a defender with a tactically naive display from start to finish. His first big mistake came for the second goal, stepping out of position needlessly to challenge a Stockport attacker that Warren O’Hora likely had covered. This left a huge gap for Paddy Madden to run into and the Stockport forward had an easy one-on-one finish from there, making it 2-0 after 36 minutes. Williams got the basics of defending wrong for a second time for Stockport’s fourth goal. Most Sunday league players know not to let the ball bounce in a dangerous position but that’s exactly what Williams did. He failed to deal with the ball over the top and then got wrong-footed by the Stockport attacker as the Welshman tried to recover. From there the ball was played across the box and eventually found its way to Conor Lemonheigh-Evans on the edge who found the back of the net with his first touch shot. This made it 4-0 after 51 minutes. These were just the two worst examples of countless basic mistakes Williams made. He also had a habit of cushioning his headed clearances directly into the path of Stockport’s attackers, most notably for a Paddy Madden chance that was fortunately denied by Kelly. Williams came off after 58 minutes for Cameron Norman.

CB – Warren O’Hora – 4.5: A difficult player to give a rating to with the capitulation of three of his teammates going on around him. O’Hora was by far the most solid of the centre-backs though even he was prone to the occasional error in possession. He played with a certain level of composure that Williams and Daniel Harvie simply didn’t have. O’Hora may have been in the middle of defence but he wasn’t really at fault for any of the goals. The only criticism would be that as a leader at the back, he needed to get Williams and Harvie under control as the pair were all over the place.

LCB – Daniel Harvie – 2.5: It hurts to give a rating this low to a player I’m such a big fan of but it was too poor of a game from Harvie to ignore. He made countless errors in possession including numerous hospital passes, one of which forced Kelly to kick a last ditch clearance directly at a Stockport player. Harvie’s biggest mistake came for the third goal when he got totally wrong-footed by Isaac Olaofe as a ball was played over the top. This left Harvie chasing the frontman but he didn’t even get close to recovering the ball and Olaofe would go on to dribble past Kelly and fire in the third. He then let a ball straight through the middle of the box for the fourth goal before letting Neill Byrne stand unmarked following a corner for the fifth goal. This allowed the Stockport man an easy tap-in on the rebound after Kelly saved the initial shot on goal, making it 5-0 after 90+5 minutes. It would be fair to suggest that the occasion got to Harvie today and he spent more time trying to get the linesman to put his flag up for offside than actually chasing the runners to prevent them for scoring in case the offside flag wasn’t raised.

LWB – Joe Tomlinson – 5: Fairly solid defensively with the exception of Stockport’s fifth goal where he pulled out of going up for the aerial battle, making it easy for Stockport to get a shot on goal. Tomlinson had a lot of involvement in advanced areas and he set up Stephen Wearne for Dons’ first big chance of the game. At 1-0 down the wingback had a one-on-one opportunity that he fired straight at Ben Hinchliffe. He was heavily involved in lots of the other chances as well but at times his crossing was poor and he just didn’t show the quality he possesses.

CM – Jack Payne – 4: Bullied off the ball by a team of players that looked much sharper than him. The most obvious example was for Stockport’s fourth when he was in a fantastic position to clear the ball but let it run straight through to Conor Lemonheigh-Evans who went on to score. Payne did try to play progressive football but he got his decision-making wrong far too often and as a result, his impact was limited. He had one effort on goal from a free-kick but he failed to find the target. He came off after 58 minutes for Ellis Harrison.

CM – Lewis Bate – 6: One of the brighter sparks in a performance that lacked quality at both ends of the pitch. However, he did make one major error, giving the ball away cheaply just inside The Dons’ half for the second goal, albeit whilst under a bit of pressure. Aside from this he played the ball out from the back well and helped Dons transition from defence to attack, even whilst being pressed by multiple opposition players.

RAM – Stephen Wearne – 4.5: Wearne forced a fantastic stop out of Ben Hinchliffe following a ball across the box from Tomlinson early in the game. He was involved in a lot of the build-up play in the first half and had the Stockport defence all over the place a times. However, unlike Dons the opposition defence recovered a lot quicker and usually did enough to get a block in before a lot of these attacks got too dangerous. Wearne’s impact faded over time and he saw very little of the ball in the second half. He eventually made way for Ethan Robson after 80 minutes.

LAM – Alex Gilbey (C) – 6 (TOP DON): Top Don was a difficult choice as there wasn’t a single Dons player that showed the right level of quality. With that in mind I’ve given it to Gilbey based on his attitude and determination to keep going, despite the chances he missed and despite everything falling apart around him. One of Gilbey’s better chances came after Tomlinson’s one-on-one was saved. The ball rebounded to the captain but he failed to hit the target with his acrobatic effort. After The Dons made a triple substitution he had a spell playing in the deeper midfield role but returned to his more advanced position once Ethan Robson came on. He was one of many that definitely should’ve grabbed a goal in this game with the chances that Dons had. Unlike some of his teammates, Gilbey’s head never dropped and he kept fighting till the bitter end.

ST – Emre Tezgel – 5: Showed his usual good level of link-up play but lacked that constant presence that a frontman should have, perhaps his inexperience showing in that regard. Tezgel didn’t really do much wrong and likely would’ve been a useful asset playing in one of the attacking midfield roles but as the leading man, he offered too little. He came off for Max Dean after 58 minutes.

SUB (RCB) – Cameron Norman – 6: Immediately improved the defence with his superior defensive positioning. Norman came on with a lot of desire and wasn’t afraid to join the attacks. He played one cracking ball into the box for Ellis Harrison but the striker failed to get his shot on target. Norman wasn’t overly consistent in the final third but then no Dons player was. His decision-making all over the pitch was good and he made sure that his clearances went as far as possible to prevent a second attacking wave.

SUB (LAM) – Ellis Harrison – 4: Another difficult player to give a rating to as he got into some fantastic positions. However, he should’ve ended the game with a brace after missing two golden chances, with one headed effort and one low shot on goal. Both of his efforts were wide of the mark. The disappointing thing to watch was his first touch which left a lot to be desired and often undid all the good work that got him into such good positions in the first place.

SUB (ST) – Max Dean – 6: If there’s one positive to take from this game it’s the return of Dean. He brought an outstanding amount of energy onto the pitch and had Dons been the ones wearing blue, he may have been mistaken for Sonic the Hedgehog. He sprinted all over the pitch to help out in both defence and attack, making himself an option at every opportunity. Unfortunately in the final third he was mostly working with scraps, though he was unlucky not to connect with a low ball across the box that likely would’ve seen him on the scoresheet had he managed to get a touch. A welcome return to the side despite the bleak score-line.

SUB (CM) – Ethan Robson – 6: A relatively late change that brought some more energy to the side but by then the game was long gone so it was little more than minutes in the legs.

TEAM PERFORMANCE – 3: The frustrating thing about this game was that Dons were probably just about on top until the first goal went in. Ben Hinchliffe had to make a couple of big saves that prevented Dons from taking the fixture by storm. However, when Michael Kelly made a calamitous error for the first goal, the momentum swing was so dramatic that Stockport started to run away with it. The Dons had plenty of chances across the course of the game to keep it competitive but ultimately lacked the quality to make any of it stick. Mike Williamson’s men were solid enough in the middle third but abysmal in both boxes and that’s a huge lesson. If you don’t take your chances you won’t win, and if you don’t take your chances whilst allowing quality opposition to have plenty of chances, you’re going to lose by a large margin.

The defensive performance was incredibly similar to the standard seen against Brighton Under 21’s when Dons collapsed 0-4. In some aspects this was even worse as some of the basics of defending were totally ignored. After a result like that, there will inevitably have to be some rotation in the side. The big question is how many changes should Mike Williamson make? A number of players deserve to be dropped after this game but there’s something to be said for having a settled side at this stage of the season. Filip Marschall, Cameron Norman and Max Dean seem like the most obvious players to come in, though Dean Lewington could also be worth considering.

This also leaves Dons with a mountain to climb if automatic promotion can even be considered at this point. The chance is most likely gone but the best thing to do now is to regroup and go again. If the team can secure a few results back to back then there’s always a slim chance of creeping into that third automatic promotion spot. If not then it creates some steady momentum going into the dreaded play-offs. Next up it’s Walsall at home on Friday… it’s time to put things right!

If you’ve read this far then thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game in the comments below and I hope you enjoyed the read!

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