What a win that was!!! It wasn’t the prettiest of performances but three points was all that mattered today. I said before the game I had an unusual amount of optimism surrounding the fixture, don’t ask me why, I’m not even sure myself. After last weeks result I felt gutted, but there was plenty of positives to take. When Pressley was relieved of his duties we were hoping for a reaction, and that’s exactly what we had…
MK Dons started the game fairly brightly but the City back line looked fairly competent in keeping them out early on. The Sky Blues then broke away and won a corner in the 9th minute. Luke Williams took it and played a beautiful floated ball in and Chris Stokes nodded home emphatically after leaping above his marker. Just 3 minutes later and us fans were in dream land, John Fleck stole the ball in the centre of the park and shimmied before playing the ball through to Dominic Samuel, the Striker then bagged his fourth goal for the club and made it 2-0.
For the remainder of the half, MK Dons were trying to claw a goal back before the interval. To be honest, they looked very threatening going forward but without really testing Lee Burge. Carl Baker seemed to have fire in his belly as he searched for a goal, and good play from him out wide lead to a few decent chances for the away side. Despite this, we remained to look promising on the counter though with Dominic Samuel looking very dangerous. The midfield also had a good first period, with Jim O’Brien showing his usual passion and grit along with John Fleck and Adam Barton who looked very assured in possession. So overall, it was a very good first half display against one of the divisions leading teams and we looked fairly comfortable.
The second half however was a different matter, I can honestly say I have no fingernails left… The away side came out and battered us. Whatever Karl Robinson said in that dressing room seemed to spark the ‘Dons’ in to life. With just 4 minutes played in the second half Marcus Tudgay had to make a superb block to deny an effort from six yards. The resulting corner was then whipped in and was met by an attacker, the shot then bounced off the post and fell gratefully in to Lee Burge’s arms… Big relief!
The away team continued to press for a goal however, and they got one on 56 minutes. Carl Baker skipped past Aaron Phillips with his typical chop inside and out and squared to Daniel Powell who slotted home. At this moment I started to doubt us again, it was a poor goal to concede and I think throwing away a two goal lead last week was playing on my mind, and no doubt, the players’.
What I witnessed after this was refreshing though… The away side still controlled the game and looked likely to score, but they didn’t. It was the first time this season that we managed to hold on to a lead under such extreme pressure. We seemed to have learnt from last weeks ineptitude and dug in deep, something we need to do every week if we are to beat the drop. We dealt with the pressure excellently too, it was very pleasing.
I think we perhaps could of been a lot stronger in midfield for example, but when the ball came in to the final third the defence stood up to everything and frustrated the MK forwards. Lee Burge also had a very confident game too as he commanded his penalty area with real authority, along with making a very good flying save to deny Powell on the hour mark. Luck was also on our side for once, and everything the away side did in front of goal seemed to be in vain, as nothing would go in! Great blocks, tough tackles and last ditch defending were all on show, highlighting we have what it takes to shut teams out.
Whether a new manager is appointed before Tuesday or not, we have to go to Oakwell and leave with three points. If we show the fight and passion that was on display today, then I fully believe we can get a result. That’s one thing that has been missing all season really, a bit of guts, but today we showed them! We can’t get carried away though, the season is a marathon not a sprint. Only a consistent set of results in the last fourteen games will keep us up… Let’s just hope we can combine this dogged defending with good attacking play and prove we are better then relegation candidates! There’s still a lot to improve on, but it’s slowly getting better.
Roll on Tuesday!
Lee Burge 8.5 – made a few good stops and commanded area very well.
Chris Stokes 8 – built on a good debut and looked solid again, as well as scoring our first.
Aaron Martin 8 – solid again, hard to beat.
Matthew Pennington 8.5 – had an excellent game, superb all round performance.
Aaron Phillips 8 – defended the flanks well and dug in deep.
Jim O’Brien 7 – work rate excellent at always and was defensively brilliant, looked promising going forward too.
John Fleck 7 – kept possession well and looked assured.
Adam Barton 7.5 – ever improving, didn’t give the ball away once and was strong in the challenge.
Luke Williams 6 – didn’t do anything to note, was replaced at half time.
Marcus Tudgay 6.5 – held ball up well but was isolated in large parts.
Dominic Samuel 7.5 – looked a threat on the counter and took his goal well.
George Thomas 6 – didn’t really effect the game too much, but worked hard.
Nick Proschwitz 6 – didn’t get ball much and didn’t do a lot with it when he did.
Jack Finch 6 – helped see the game out.