Paynes Player Ratings Crawley Home

Payne’s Player Ratings vs Crawley (Home) – Play-offs Edition:

After 180 minutes of football plus added time, it’s safe to say that The Dons still don’t like play-offs. Crawley Town came into this fixture with a 3-0 advantage whilst Dons came into it with nothing to lose…or so we thought. Mike Williamson’s men were stripped of their dignity after a second calamitous performance saw Crawley run away as 1-5 winners, 1-8 on aggregate. Here’s how I rated the players after the action at Stadium MK:

Formation: 5-4-1/ 5-2-2-1 (Two holding midfielders and two attacking midfielders) – Switched to 5-3-2 after half-time

GK – Filip Marschall – 4: Despite Dons fans loving to hate him, Marschall wasn’t the problem in this game. He was let down massively by the outfield players for all five goals. There’s an argument to say he could’ve got closer to one or two of them but ultimately Crawley were repeatedly playing through The Dons’ defence like they weren’t there. Marschall made a couple of solid saves to keep it from being a cricket score. His distribution was solid throughout, particularly in the first half where he picked out one or two fantastic long range passes.

RWB – Kyran Lofthouse – 3.5: Lofthouse had a very poor first half, failing to get past his marker countless times whilst simultaneously failing to protect the defence. He did get past his man once in the first half but instead of taking the chance to shoot he tried to run through five more players before turning away from and then finally deciding to try and shoot. His second half was a significant improvement in terms of attacking, turning his man multiple times and getting into some great positions. However, he still left a lot to be desired defensively and was caught ball-watching in the box for the fourth goal, standing miles away from Jack Roles as the ball fell to the Crawley man in the box. Roles hit his shot first time into the bottom corner making it 1-4 after 80 minutes.

RCB – Warren O’Hora – 3.5: O’Hora had a poor game, though this was most likely due to him having to rush in to cover the mistakes his teammates were making all around him. He nearly got a challenge in for the opening goal but there wasn’t much he realistically could’ve done to prevent it. However, he did give away the ball in the build-up to Crawley’s second goal with a poor pass that was intended for Stephen Wearne. O’Hora’s positioning for the chance that led to Jack Tucker’s goal-line clearance was bad as he could’ve easily stepped in to cover Tucker’s mistake but didn’t, instead allowing the Crawley man straight through on goal. He was also partially at fault for the fourth goal, putting in a half-hearted challenge in the build-up before ball-watching as Jack Roles took his shot. O’Hora also rushed out for an aerial battle he was never going to win in the build-up to the fifth goal and put very little effort into recovering after the ball got past him.

CB – Jack Tucker – 2: The joint worst individual defensive performance of the season alongside Anthony Stewart’s performance against Brighton U21’s. Tucker was all over the place and never settled into the game. He played a dangerous ball for Alex Gilbey in the build-up to Crawley’s first goal, barely contained Danilo Orsi and caused the loose ball in the box for the fourth goal, before losing possession with a poor touch for the fifth goal. This is in addition to the countless times he got beaten by his man and all the occasions he got caught out of position, allowing Crawley to play straight through the middle of the defence. Tucker did have a couple of good moments, most notably the assist for Dons’ only goal of the game, playing Jack Payne’s free-kick back across goal for Max Dean to finish. He also made a goal-line clearance, though it was a soft shot and he had plenty of time to clear his lines…also adding that the chance Tucker denied was his fault anyway since he stepped up whilst the rest of the defence stepped back, giving Crawley a free pass through on goal.

LCB – Daniel Harvie – 3: In the right place most of the time but his composure let him down in a big way. Harvie was caught out for the second goal, failing to deal with a ball over the top and allowing Danilo Orsi to take the ball and run at him. From there Orsi managed to find enough space to shoot, hitting the ball through Harvie’s legs and into the bottom corner to make it 0-2 after 30 minutes. The only other goal Harvie was at fault for was the fifth, which is quite a controversial one. Harvie lost track of Danilo Orsi at the back post as Ronan Darcy played the ball across goal. Orsi was able to direct the ball into the goal with good use of his body, completing his hat-trick and making it 1-5 after 90+2 minutes. The controversial bit is that when the ball was played in to Darcy, he was stood in an offside position. Unfortunately the linesman was well behind play so never spotted it. Though the goal shouldn’t have stood, Harvie still should’ve kept track of Orsi better. Harvie’s possession play was inconsistent, he seemed to struggle with his first touch, though he seemed to get away with it more often than not. He did play one ball across goal that forced a save out of Corey Addai and led to a chance for Alex Gilbey but he created little aside from this.

LWB – Joe Tomlinson – 2: An uncharacteristically poor performance from Tomlinson, who seemed to have switched off once Dons went behind early in the game. On two occasions he played Crawley onside for major chances, firstly for the chance that led to Tucker’s goal-line clearance and then again for Crawley’s third goal. Tomlinson played three Crawley players onside when the rest of the defence stepped up, allowing a through ball to be played to Liam Kelly who unselfishly passed the ball across goal as Marschall came to intercept, giving Danilo Orsi an open goal and Crawley a 1-3 lead after 48 minutes. At the other end Tomlinson failed to hit a single decent cross, with most of his efforts finding the first man or flying over everyone’s heads. With this being said, he had one good shot on goal from outside the box in the first half, forcing a diving save from Corey Addai.

CM – Jack Payne – 2.5: Just as lightweight in possession as he was in the first game, Payne struggled to keep hold of the ball and regularly got outmuscled by Crawley’s midfield. He gave away the ball for Crawley’s third goal with an awful touch, though a Crawley midfielder tried to tackle him as he was chasing after it. Instead of running back into position to prevent the chance, Payne started appealing to the referee for a free-kick. Payne did contribute to Dons’ only goal of the game, whipping in a beautiful free-kick for Tucker at the back post who then played it back across for Max Dean who supplied the finish. Payne came off after 56 minutes for MJ Williams.

CM – Lewis Bate – 5: One of very few players that seemed up for the fight, Bate showed urgency on the ball and made a habit of carrying it forward at speed before releasing it to his teammate. Similarly to Payne he struggled in the physical battles but when Dons did have the ball, he was the one that tried to play with purpose. Bate was taken off at half-time in favour of Ellis Harrison as Dons switched to a 5-3-2 formation, a peculiar decision given the energy he was playing with in comparison to Payne alongside him.

RAM – Stephen Wearne – 1.5: The joint worst individual performance of the season, alongside Kelly’s against Brighton U21’s. Wearne was on the pitch for 56 minutes but even I couldn’t tell you what he did in that time. He was totally anonymous, adding nothing to the attack or the defence. He was inconsistent on the ball but never really had it in the final third or the defensive third. When Wearne did eventually make way in the 56th minute, Emre Tezgel came on to replace him.

LAM – Alex Gilbey (C) – 2: Gilbey was heavily involved but lacked composure and was much more flat-footed than Crawley’s midfield, though the same can be said for any of The Dons’ players. Gilbey had multiple shots on goal but failed to make them count. The first came after Max Dean pressed Corey Addai into a mistake. The ball fell to Gilbey and he went for goal from range whilst Addai scrambled back towards his goal. However, Gilbey hit it straight at the Crawley keeper so he didn’t have to travel very far to recover. He then had another chance later in the game after Addai spilled a driven cross from Harvie. Gilbey hit the ball hard and low and… straight at Addai again. It was a similar story with Gilbey’s defensive game. The captain came short to receive the ball from Tucker, only to try and turn away from his marker too soon. As a result he failed to shield the ball and Jay Williams was able to dispossess him and run into a more central position before finding the bottom corner, making it 0-1 after just 3 minutes. Following the formation change, Gilbey formed part of a three man midfield alongside Payne and Wearne. Later in the game he played alongside Williams and Tezgel which left Gilbey having to drop even deeper due to Williams’ lack of pace and Tezgel’s unfamiliarity with the position.

ST – Max Dean – 3.5: Once again the occasion got to the young striker’s head. He was fortunate that the referee didn’t spot a potential stamp on a Crawley players crotch area in the first half and was even more fortunate to not get a booking at all until the 90+5th minute despite leaving a foot in on numerous Crawley players in addition to squaring up to a couple of them. Dean scored The Dons’ only goal of the game. It was a poacher’s effort, turning the ball into the back of the net from Tucker’s ball across goal, sending Corey Addai the wrong way in the process. Dean then had a chance to double his tally for the day when Dons won a penalty for a Liam Kelly handball. Unfortunately Addai predicted that Dean would go for the bottom left corner so despite hitting the ball accurately and hard, Dean was denied from the spot. However, this was another controversial moment as Addai was stood in front of his line before Dean kicked the ball meaning that the penalty should’ve been re-taken. The linesman failed to spot this and the referee was looking the other way so Crawley got away with it. Aside from this, Dean carried the ball well and got into some good positions but he was far too isolated from his teammates, particularly in the first half. He did start to press more in this game and it did force a mistake out of Addai who cleared a ball straight into the path of Gilbey. Dean was in a good position to receive the ball but Gilbey went for goal instead.

SUB (ST) – Ellis Harrison – 5: Came on with a lot of energy and put Crawley under a lot more pressure. Harrison got stuck in and started to match the opposition players in terms of their sharpness off the ball. He was rewarded for his efforts when he won Dons a penalty. Harrison made a fantastic run towards the right side of the box where he was picked out by Lofthouse. From there Harrison tried to play the ball across goal only for Liam Kelly to block it with his elbow. The referee quickly pointed to the spot and despite picking up the ball, Harrison handed it over to Dean. As The Dons side started to give up, Harrison kept chasing lost causes and tried to press Crawley as much as he could.

SUB (CM) – MJ Williams – 3.5: Williams was brought on to bring a more combative feel to the midfield but looked sluggish and offered little protection to a defence that was already crumbling. He was behind play far too often and struggled for consistency with his passing.

SUB (CM) – Emre Tezgel – 6.5: An admirable performance from Tezgel in the circumstances. Playing an unfamiliar position in a hopeless situation, with his teammates giving up all around him, Tezgel gave it everything to try and get Dons a goal back. Like Harrison, he pressed hard and hunted down Crawley’s players as much as possible. He took up an aggressive position which did leave Dons exposed in places but he worked hard and was unfortunate not to get a goal. He nearly managed to flick the ball away from Addai following one of Gilbey’s chances but the keeper just about got his hands on the ball before Tezgel got there. He then forced a big save out of Addai later in the game, with Tezgel’s shot crashing off the woodwork after the Crawley keeper made the save.

The young group of fans in the top tier – 9 (TOP DONS): Undying commitment and dedication to the cause, these young fans were the life of The Dons’ support even as Crawley started to pull away with a landslide victory. Their enthusiasm gave the rest of fanbase something to at least crack a smile about. This is probably the most devastating loss in The Dons’ history, but these fans kept singing till the final whistle and should be applauded for their efforts. Had the team showed as much desire, Dons might’ve just stood a chance.

TEAM PERFORMANCE – 0.5: It’s another big game where Mike Williamson got it totally wrong. He corrected the mistake of not pressing the keeper from the first game but had no solution for Crawley’s rampant midfield. The Dons were sluggish by comparison and lost almost every second ball. For a team that’s supposed to be good at controlling games and attacking, there was precious little of either. The players looked very sorry for themselves from the very beginning and simply didn’t have the fight in them to give Crawley a game. Questions have to be asked of the management staff’s ability to motivate the players. They shouldn’t need motivating for a game like this but if they’re not doing what’s asked of them, then something’s clearly not right. This isn’t a suggestion that Williamson should go, rather a strong hint that some growth is needed as there’s still a lot of naivety in his management, with particular reference to his approach to important games.

The lack of selfless defending has been pointed out time and time again, yet it continues to be a problem. This whole attitude of attack as a team, defend as a defence just doesn’t work, especially in big games where players should be putting their bodies on the line. From Crawley’s eight goals over the course of the two games, you can spot Dons players ball-watching in almost all of them. It’s clear that a defensive overhaul is needed over the summer, and that includes midfielders that are prepared to defend as well as attack.

Despite the abysmal performance, some credit has to go to Daniel Harvie and Max Dean who stayed a while and applauded the fans whilst the rest of the squad did the rounds and retreated to the tunnel. Perhaps it’s a sign that the pair could be leaving Dons, but either way they are two fantastic servants to the club who gave their all for the team, even if their all wasn’t always good enough.

If you’ve read this far then thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game in the comments below as well as your thoughts on what the retained list could look like. I also bring news that this isn’t the final player ratings of the season as I will be doing a special end of season edition. This also means the return of the released and re-signed series where I identify potential free agent signings going into next season so be sure to look out for that. Thank you for your outstanding support of the series this season and I hope you enjoyed the read!

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