Milton Keynes Dons 1-0 Exeter City Player Ratings: Cargill shines

Paul Tisdale –

New MK Dons manager Paul Tisdale oversaw a 1-0 victory over former club Exeter City thanks to Kieran Agard’s second half penalty, after Dean Moxey was sent off. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Milton Keynes Dons

Lee Nicholls – the ex-Wigan man struggled for confidence last season, but he appears to be benefiting from having a more stable defensive unit in front of him. Wasn’t overworked for his clean sheet. 6

George Williams – the ex-Barnsley man has played as a full-back before, which means he’s comfortable enough on the ball to play in a back-three and in a possession-based system. Got forward intelligently and linked up nicely with Brittain as he looks set for a season of consistency. 8
Joe Walsh – the centre-back looked commanding in the air when called upon and never allowed space in behind. Part of a solid back-line that did not allow their opponents any clear-cut chances. 7
Baily Cargill – the centre-back not only looked composed in possession, he defended superbly. MK Dons relied on the ex-Bournemouth man to snuff out Exeter’s attacks down the home side’s left flank and that he did very well. Deserved to be awarded the official man-of-the-match. 9

Callum Brittain – the academy graduate was one of MK Dons’ more energetic players last season and this match showed he is at his best when deployed in his best position as a wing-back. Brittain got forward with plenty of energy and, especially at the beginning of the second half, looked a threat. 7
Jordan Moore-Taylor – one of the best ball-playing centre-backs outside the Championship last season, Moore-Taylor chose to be re-united with Tisdale which is a real feather in the manager’s cap. He didn’t break forward as much as one might ideally like, but his ability in possession partially smoothened his transition to central midfield. 6
Jordan Houghton – the ex-Doncaster man protected the defence well through his positional discipline and also retained possession effectively; all the qualities we have come to expect from Houghton. Like Moore-Taylor though, the one downside to his performance was that he was a tad tentative when he moved towards the attacking third and Tisdale might have to re-assess the balance of his side when they face lower-placed sides. 7
Dean Lewington – the veteran is the only remaining player in this MK Dons squad who has been present since the club came into existence. While he is certainly a strong influence around the club and can threaten from set pieces, as we saw when he forced a save from Pym with his 18th minute free-kick, he is very slow and that can be problematic for a player in any position, let alone a wing-back. Struggled to handle Holmes in the first half and was perhaps fortunate the wide man was taken off after the break. 4

Alex Gilbey – the box-to-box midfielder was one of MK Dons’ best players in the first half of last season, prior to his untimely injury which contributed to the club’s relegation. The ex-Colchester man is popular with supporters and on this evidence, it’s easy to see why; Gilbey excelled at finding pockets of space in between the lines and was his side’s main creative outlet. 8

Robbie Simpson – facing his old club, Simpson struggled to get into the game in the first half. One or two nice touches and clearly is capable of holding the ball up at times, but at other times he looked a tad off the pace. 5
Kieran Agard – the ex-Rotherham man toiled on the right of a front three at times last season, but appears to have benefited from being handed more of a central role. He showed bright movement and relentless tenacity for much of this game, but he might have hoped to have scored more than once, having had a penalty brilliantly saved in the second half prior to the spot-kick he scored. Had enough chances to grab a brace but at least the chances he did miss didn’t impact on his confidence. 7

Rhys Healey (on 72) – looked bright with his movement in from the left channel and, had his teammates executed counter-attacks with more incision, he could have had one or two chances. One looping effort nearly caught out Pym. 7
Ousseynou Cisse (on 81) – the 27-year-old has recently been moved into a more attacking role with various forwards sidelined. Although he is capable of pressing effectively, his slow decision-making – which is to be expected from a midfield ball-winner by trade – sometimes hindered MK on the break. 5
Lawson D’Ath (on 87) – the former Northampton man appeared to pick up a knock very quickly after coming on, which limited what he was able to contribute in the closing stages. 5

Exeter City

Christy Pym – the academy graduate has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in League Two over the last five years or so and proved it again here. He did brilliantly to stop Lewington’s free-kick, then managed to save Agard’s first penalty. Unlucky to be on the losing side. 8

Pierce Sweeney – the Irishman didn’t get a look-in at Reading but he looked solid enough defensively here. Due to the nature of the match he wasn’t able to show what he can do in an attacking sense, at least until the closing stages. 6
Aaron Martin – the ex-Birmingham defender had a reasonable game, although he might have been disappointed to head off-target in the closing stages. With Troy Brown only just recovering from injury, Martin has an opportunity to nail down a regular place. 7
Dean Moxey – the former Bolton man has the versatility to switch to centre-back due to Troy Deeney’s injury, even though he’s more comfortable at left-back. Here though he was often forced back by Agard and, already on a yellow card, foolishly handled Williams’ cross into the box to get concede a penalty, get sent off and give his teammates a mountain to climb. 4
Craig Woodman – the veteran showed enough commitment here, but he lacks pace and imagination in possession, which can be problematic for a full-back. He has divided opinion among Grecians fans for some time, so in future Taylor may look for a more forward-thinking left-back who can fill in when Moxey is forced to centre-back. 5

Lee Holmes – the tricky wide man has not had the easiest time with injuries in recent years, but he was Exeter’s brightest attacking player in the second half and caused a lot of problems for Lewington. In many ways, he was unlucky that the circumstances of the match dictated that he needed to be sent off in favour of a defender following the red card. 7
Nicky Law – although the ex-Bradford man wasn’t quite able to dominate the midfield in the manner he is capable of, there were spells during which we saw why he is normally able to do so. The busy midfielder might not be especially quick, but he uses the energy he does have selflessly and intelligently, dragging opposing players back with his clever runs to create space for others. Came to the fore after moving to the right following Moxey’s red card and looks potentially one of the signings of the summer in League Two. 7
Hiram Boateng – the midfielder showed last season that he can be a dynamic, all-action player but here, he wasn’t able to impose himself on the contest quite as much as he normally can. Improved in the closing stages, however. 5
Jake Taylor – the Reading academy graduate is seen as a strong enough influence on this side to have been named captain in the summer. It is impressive enough that Taylor can play just as effectively on either flank, but he showed further adaptability here by filling in central midfield after Holmes went off and Law moved out to the right. Battled admirably in tough circumstances. 6

Jayden Stockley – the target man benefited from the transition to a slightly more direct style of play last season but here, he was often outnumbered and while he normally got his head to the ball, he wasn’t able to bring others into play. A frustrating afternoon. 5
Jonathan Forte – the experienced striker went off with an injury on 10 minutes but, in his short time on the pitch, he was sometimes too far away from Stockley to link-up effectively. 4

Lee Martin (on 10) – the former Ipswich man stretched play with good movement in the second half and did well to find space, considering for much of the game he was playing in a side with a numerical disadvantage. 6
Luke Croll (on 56) – the defender, back from injury, did reasonably well when he came on after Moxey’s sending off, but could only nod wide when given a late chance. 7
Tristan Abrahams (on 86) – the Norwich loanee offers pace and power up top and he added raw energy here. 6