Milton Keynes Dons 1-0 Northampton Town Player Ratings: Moore-Taylor immense

 

Paul Tisdale – bbc.co.uk

Milton Keynes Dons moved up to third in League Two thanks to a 1-0 home win over Northampton Town; they could have scored more goals but Kieran Agard’s 44th-minute strike sufficed. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Milton Keynes Dons

Lee Nicholls – the former Wigan stopper has now kept eight clean sheets so far this season in all competitions, even if he hasn’t been overly stretched for some of them. The 26-year-old did, at least tip Williams’ tight-angled effort away midway through the opening period, even if seconds later he was forced to concede a corner due to a moment of indecision. 7

Joe Walsh – the defender, who reached 200 career starts in last week’s win at Cambridge, has been a key part of MK Dons’ defensive record, which is currently the best in the division with just eight conceded in 13. His distribution here was at times of the no-nonsense variety, but he played his part. 7
Baily Cargill – the Bournemouth academy graduate has the potential to play at a much higher level than League Two and showed that here. His first half distribution was perhaps not quite at his usual level, but the 23-year-old certainly did the basics well. 7
Jordan Moore-Taylor – the defender, who followed Paul Tisdale from Exeter, looks one of the signings of the League Two season due to his passing accuracy and organizational qualities. He reads situations superbly and that was a big part of why MK were rarely opened up centrally; when called upon, he was always in Position A to make a last-ditch clearance. 9

George Williams – in a right wing-back role, Williams doesn’t attack the flank quite as directly as Callum Brittain does; rather, he appears to wait for opportunities to cut inside and combine intelligently with his teammates. While that can work in some games, it is not ideal when MK need a player to push further up and stretch things down the flank, which suggests there could be a role for Callum Brittain as the season progresses. 6
Alex Gilbey – the midfielder’s 2017-18 campaign was hindered by injury, but he is making a big contribution this year with his energetic pressing in support of Aneke and Healey. He still had the inclination to do that here with reasonable effect, although the presence of an extra forward in Agard meant on one or two second half occasions when he pushed up, Houghton was left isolated. 6
Jordan Houghton – ending a 15-year association with Chelsea looks a wise decision for the midfielder, whose technical ability is not quite at the level required to get any games at an elite club. Houghton does, however, showed here that he does the simple things very effectively: he picks and times his challenges well before laying the ball off quickly for others. 7
Dean Lewington – it seems curious that, for a wing-back role which is so readily associated with requiring pace and stamina, Tisdale has opted for 34-year-old Lewington over the more energetic Mitch Hancox. The stalwart was caught out defensively on occasions and he does not offer too much width, but his set pieces were productive in the first half and, as this battling performance showed, he will never lose his determination to do well for his club. 6

Kieran Agard – the striker, who has scored goals for fun in the division above with Rotherham and Bristol City, looked lively here and deserved his goal, tapping home from close-range. 7
Chuks Aneke – the enigmatic forward’s attitude has at times been questioned by the MK faithful, but this performance did not suggest a player going by half-measures. He reacted very quickly to losing the ball and willingly engaged in physical tussles with the likes of Pierre; the former Arsenal man had enough chances, too, to add to his seasonal tally of seven goals. 8

Rhys Healey – the young striker’s decision-making was at times questionable when he wasn’t given much space to attack, but as his second half performance showed, his mobility can make him an excellent weapon on the counter-attack. The Cardiff loanee, who netted in the previous home game, was denied one-on-one by Cornell after the break, but this was a lively performance. 7

Ryan Watson (on 90) – the former Leicester man has started to show his technical proficiency in a more possession-based side this year and might have considered himself unfortunate to be on the bench. 5

Northampton Town

David Cornell – the Welsh goalkeeper hasn’t always been flavour of the month at Sixfields, but has won some plaudits for recent performances with just three goals conceded in his last four games. He made some good stops here, denying Healey one-on-one after the break and Aneke on a couple of occasions. 7

Hakeem Odoffin – after signing from Wolves in the summer, Odoffin had lost his place in the eleven but regained it here due to Shay Facey’s unavailability. The 20-year-old, a right-back by trade, suffered the occasional lapse in concentration but he did produce one excellent block to deny Healey. 5
Jordan Turnbull – the defender put in an excellent performance against Forest Green last week, but he had a tougher afternoon here. He sometimes he had the intelligence to support Waters on the overlap and made one or two goal-saving challenges, but was shown a yellow card on 70 minutes for a foul on Healey. 5
Aaron Pierre – the powerful centre-back proved one of the best in League Two while at Wycombe but he had better protection at Adams Park, limiting his remit to heading balls away from the box. Tasked with more pieces of one-on-one defending has made his job more difficult, although he was still able to make a few blocks. 6

Billy Waters – one of the downsides to Keith Curle implementing his favoured 3-5-2 system so quickly is the shortage of suited personnel, with Waters – a withdrawn forward by trade – acting as an auxiliary wing-back. Although the former Cheltenham man is a willing runner, he isn’t especially quick and thus always took the simple option from wide positions. 4
John-Joe O’Toole – the midfielder has scored 67 goals in his career since starting out at Watford in 2007, but he wasn’t quite given the freedom here to break into the box. Equally, he lacked the defensive nous to fulfil a holding role effectively, thus what he could offer the team was limited. 4
Sam Foley – the experienced ball-winner, a key part of Yeovil’s promotion in 2012-13, didn’t quite embrace the physical aspect of proceedings as one might have hoped and that is partly why the Cobblers looked so vulnerable in transition. 4
David Buchanan – the left-back, who has an affinity with supporters, was a dependable performer at this level three seasons ago. Whether he is still as good at 32 and whether he possesses the pace required for a wing-back role, which is even more demanding than playing as a standard left-back, are two major questions. 4

Sam Hoskins – along with Buchanan, Hoskins is one of the last remaining members of Northampton’s 2015-16 League Two title win. He normally operates as a second striker in Curle’s system, but we arguably saw the best of him in the latter stages, when he moved into a more natural wide right role which gave him the opportunity to run at Lewington with some success. Unfortunately, Curle’s allegiance to three at the back means he is unlikely to be given the opportunity to play there from the start of games. 5
Kevin Van Veen – the withdrawn forward was rewarded for his role from the bench in last week’s winner, but he had a tough afternoon here, spending more time blocking shots in his defensive third than getting on the ball in forward areas. He did though play an accurately-weighted ball to set up Powell for Northampton’s best chance of the game. 5

Andy Williams – the predatory poacher has proved a capable goalscorer in the division above with Swindon and Doncaster; he had perhaps struggled for confidence early in his current campaign with Northampton, so last week’s injury-time winner against Forest Green was a much-needed boost. Here though, he endured a quiet afternoon, despite seeing a tight-angled counter-attacking effort stopped by Nicholls midway through the first half. 4

Jack Bridge (on 58) – the young winger stretched the play by hugging the touchline, something the Cobblers didn’t have before he came on. 6
Shaun McWilliams (on 59) – the highly-rated academy graduate, who has recently recovered from injury, offered some composure in possession. 6
Daniel Powell (on 75) – the MK Dons academy graduate got a mixed reception after coming off the bench – to add to the drama, he could have grabbed an equalizer 60 seconds later but was denied one-on-one by Nicholls. 7