Monday, 30 April 2012

April Blog

Sir Tom Finney

After the disappointment of March we all hoped for a better April but before a ball was even kicked we got bad news.
James Tavernier had been recalled by his parent club Newcastle United with immediate effect and Robert Hall was sent back to West Ham leaving us with an even smaller than normal squad and with injuries to Dean Bowditch and Mathias Doumbe both with groin injuries they were reportedly sidelined for the Preston game while Luke Chadwick remained a doubt with his knee, Gary MacKenzie was rated 50/50 for the clash.

Tavernier had made seven appearances with the team but with the Magpies short of defensive cover he was recalled ,this is always the danger of loan signings but looking at other clubs in our league its a problem we all have ,at least he was on the bench for the Magpies and not just recalled to be sent somewhere else like Adam Smith who was then unwanted by Warnock when he took over at Leeds.

The only option is to have our own players but that adds to the wage bill as we would need a bigger squad or in our case means we'd have to play the young up and coming players like George Williams and George Baldock and with Chicksen Flanagan and Powell already featuring I think that would be a risk and playing too many games at such a young age is not ideal. In fact the youngsters with squad numbers are Stefan Powell, Joel Gyasi, Leon Lobjoit ,Bamidele Alli, Brendon Galloway and Keeper Louis Bragg Some of whom are either not old enough to play legally or ready.

But back to Preston and it was Preston in the news with the BBC broadcasting Preston's got Passion and Fern Britton leading the live broadcast which included a choir, scenes on the concourse and three films inspired by real tales of Prestonians’ lives, every time I turned on the TV it was Preston ! but the footballing world was more interested in Sir Tom Finney's 90th birthday .Preston manager Graham Westley wanted the focus to be on Sir Tom Finney's 90th birthday celebrations ahead of their home game against MK Dons but worryingly for Graham chairman Peter Ridsdale gave Westley his "100% support" earlier in the week despite the former Stevenage boss overseeing just two wins in his first 15 matches since joining the club in January which is always the kiss of death.

At the start of the season I would have bitten your hand off for a draw at Preston but as the season has gone on and Preston have not performed as well as most expected I suppose I thought we could get the three points and it was looking that way till the last kick of the ball it seemed when we again throw away two points. In a fitting way the goal time for Preston was ninety minute's so Sir Tom was probably looking down smiling but it was a kick in the teeth for us and the worry about play offs was still there.
A crowd of 13,941 watched the game and we lined up Martin, Chicksen, Williams, MacKenzie, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; O'Shea (Slane 82), Chadwick (Ibehre 54), Powell; Smith (MacDonald 76). Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan. and Chicksen, Chadwick got themselves booked our goal was a cracker by Potter on 26mins.

Ronnie Moore arrive's

Tranmere players arrive

On the fifth of April we heard that local legend Jim Marshall died I remember his shop down in Bletchley town and worked for his son Terry in his shop in Duncombe Street and at his Amp factory over at Bleak Hall but never knew Jim although I knew his first wife as she lived with Terry and his family. Marshall's was and is used by some of the biggest bands in the world and Jim has given millions of pounds over the years to good causes and was instrumental (pun intended) in helping the Dons establish themselves in Milton Keynes and it was fitting that the club paid tribute to Jim and us fans wore our Marshall tops in tribute to the legend that was Jim Marshall for the Tranmere game.

The Tranmere game was a special one for me as well as I was invited to the directors boardroom and balcony for the game as guest of the Mayor Alan Richards ! those of you who know me will know I am not a politician or local businessman but merely an ordinary fan and it was through the Dons I met the Mayor a Dons fan I used to sit next to Alan before he was Mayor and Alan kindly invited a few of us he sat with to accompany him to selected game's and Tranmere was my game.

There were a few surprised looks on the faces of the Directors when I strolled in to the Directors box as most know me and knew I wasn't a visiting dignitary or local businessman lol,but I was made to feel welcome and it wasn't at all snobby and I got to chat with Pete about the casino bid and talked to Peter Cork who some will remember I have mentioned in a previous blog.
As I was guest of the Mayor I sat with the Mayor of Wirral - Councillor Moira McLaughlin and her Daughter The Mayor’s Consort Anna McLaughlin who is Mayoress of Wirral.

Moira was not a huge football fan and Anna though she grew up a few streets from Tranmere's ground had only seen them play a few times this season so I did my best to give them a short history of our club and the team. Moia said she had been looking forward to coming here but when she mentioned it to Friends back home she was told the subject was controversial ! as she confessed to me like most fans she didn't know much about the move so I attempted to give an unbiased opinion. Moira didn't know Wimbledon played at Crystal Palace for over twelve years before the move here and I told her she wasn't alone! while I hoped I was making my point well I was well aware Peter Cork was sitting behind me and I'm sure as a former director of Wimbledon he would have told me if I got anything too wrong.

As the politico's chatted at half time I was joined by Peter Cork and we talked about past owners of Wimbledon and who was good and who was bad and I gave my opinions first and Peter mainly nodded as he gave me more background and told me some things I didn't know.
As I said before if any of you get the chance to chat with Peter do so he is a lovely bloke, Reg Davis also said hello and he is another of the old Wimbledon directors who has some good stories to tell probably not all of you are interested but I have always found the subject quite intriguing but realise some like to just think of the Dons in MK and are not interested in the way it came to be.

Anyway I have been boring you long enough with my glimpse into the world of the directors balcony back to the game I thought Tranmere would give us a scare and before the game I thought we could lose this as Ronnie Moore seems to have had a positive effect and they have had some good results but as Ronnie said after the game they seemed to have started their holidays early !

I thought we did play some nice football but also thought the penalty Martin saved was a turning point a thought echoed by Gleeson in his M.O.T.M acceptance speech. Williams and Gleeson had good games and Potter was many fans choice but I thought Jabo played his socks off and much as he frustrated me through the game(as the Mayor or Wirrall informed me "you've been calling him all sorts" )I thought Jabo deserved it and we do seem better when he starts.
I apologised for the result to Moira and Anna (of course I didn't mean it) and wished them a safe journey home they were good company and took defeat well and the ref and lino did let them off a goal else it would have been four lol
We lined up 4-2-3-1 Martin, Chicksen, MacKenzie (Flanagan 79), Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Bowditch (O'Shea 70), Ibehre (Chadwick 81), Powell; MacDonald
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Chicksen, MacKenzie (Flanagan 79), Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Bowditch (O'Shea 70), Ibehre (Chadwick 81), Powell; MacDonald.
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Smith.
MacKenzie got booked but at least he didnt headbutt anyone Goals were by Williams two penalties on 10 and 74, Gleeson twisted and turned and scared us all but got the goal on 42 the attendance was 7,355 with 280 away fans.

In club news gaming operator Aspers will run the casino in the Xscape complex the application beat rival bids from the Leisure Plaza near the railway station and Stadium MK when I spoke to Pete about the failed bid he did not seem too bothered and said it kept us in the news and let other business know the land was now available and has therefore raised the price of the land I was told by someone else it wasn't really the image Pete was after but if the money had been right he would have gone for it.

I went along to the under 15's match with my lad and his mate to watch the future Dons and although we lost 4-1 there were some bright spots but we got caught on the break a bit and the defence let us down .Dons old schoolboy Seyi Ojo scored and set up another of the goals but apart from that did not trouble us too much. Jay Taylor made a great run down the wing and squared the ball for central midfielder Kyran Wiltshire who slotted home our only goal.
Dan Micciche's young Dons had their best chance to get one back when captain Giorgio Rasulo's left-footed shot went just wide of the left hand post. Liverpool had some big lads and the substitutes disrupted the second half with us bringing on younger smaller lads and Liverpool seeming to have an endless supply of big older lads and really that was the difference ,second half Liverpools finishing improved as the game went on whereas we never got many chance's the team lined up King, Taylor (Logan 61), Tingey, Walsh (Lloyd 58), Tilney: Daffern, Wiltshire (Foster 65), Weston, Rasulo (c) (Danso 78): Tshimanga (Vaughan 73), Palmeiro.Subs not used: Van Der Schoot, Adorno, Okito. Attendance was listed as 2,162 on the OS but announced as 2,186 I thought ,either way it was more than turned out for Spurs and slightly less than for Chelsea so a very successful night and an attendance a lot of clubs would love to have for a reserve game let alone an under 15's and all the money will go to the academy.

Ahead of the Scunthorpe game we got some great news and that was that Darren Potter had signed a new contract till June 2014 Potts as he is known was my player of the year in the recent Official site poll although I gave Williams a close second. I went to Woughton with my daughter on the Friday before the game but never got a chance to speak with him but we were joined by Jabo who is now my daughter's favourite player as he sat next to her and was well just Jabo really, smiley happy and chatty he was telling us about where he comes from in Islington and how he loves London but now lives in Milton Keynes which he is very happy with but that he still keeps a place in London. Arsenal is his team from childhood and the first ground he ever went to my daughter's mum comes from Kentish Town and was born in Islington so she was fascinated Jabo came from same place as her mum John Gorman also came and chatted to us and my daughter thought he was lovely and wanted his autograph John always speaks to any fans at Woughton and has so much knowledge of the game he also spends a lot of time with the younger players and Im always pleased he gets recognition by the fans during matches after they sing Robbo's name.

The team left Friday afternoon for the trip to Scunthorpe and most of us were thinking a draw up there would be a good result and not many thought we would win let only by three goals. Alan Smith has at last started showing some Premiership quality and had a good game instrumental in most of the play the Dons were having a very good day and though passes went astray and it was not perfect it was good enough to end the Iron 10 game unbeaten run and after repeatedly trying to bully his way through the match Robertson decided to have a go at MacKenzie in what I would guess was an attempt to get the king of the headbutt to react but Gary didn't and Robertson himself walked..justice.
Martin again made a good one on one save to add to his clean sheet tally and although he is criticised by some his record is what managers look at, Williams Potter MaDonald and Smith could all have been M.O.T.M but it was a team performance and MacKenzie deserves a mention for not reacting to an elbow in the face the team lined up 4-2-3-1 Martin who limped off at the end to be replaced for a minute by McLoughlin, Chicksen, MacKenzie, Williams, Lewington (c) Potter, Gleeson, Powell, Smith (Ibehre 74), Bowditch (O'Shea 66); MacDonald. Subs not used: Flanagan, Chadwick the only booking was Williams which was surprising baring in mind the referee was Carl Berry goals were by Bowditch on 11, Powell 54, Williams 85 attendance was 4,111 with 238 Dons fans.

As if our sqaud was not small enough the week of the United game we were told Paul Slane had gone back to Celtic with an ankle injury quite how he picked that up or whether it was the injury he had when he came here is unclear.
Spoke to Robbo ahead of the Sheffield United game and all players were fit accept Doumbe who is still a couple of weeks away from selection and has been swimming at the gym to keep fit MacKenzie was still suffering with his neck and was not sure whether he would be playing but mainly we spoke about the budget for next season and players who would be staying and indeed staff ! none of which I can mention but as some of it will be subject to change depending on what division we are in or other forces at work Id probably report something that never happened anyway ! suffice to say some news was good but one bit made me sad and another bit surprised me.

So the much anticipated game was upon us and the United team arrived in a very ordinary looking coach nowhere near as plush as Tranmere's the home game before when I commented on it a female blade's fan told me it belonged to Man Unt last season I think someone was pulling her leg as I saw the United coach last season and that wasn't it lol
In true big time charlie style the players and even Danny Wilson charged out of the coach and into the ground with barely a word for the supporters no autograph signing(well odd one or two) and they were early arriving the 6135 Blades that came were so loud during the warm up and early part of the game I couldn't hear our lot but after a cautious fifteen minutes we got a break. Bowditch took a corner that Lewington got his head to, I thought he tried to score but the ball found its way to Alan Smith who headed home and we were one up on sixteen minutes and the blades fans went silent and pretty much stayed that way considering the numbers for the rest of the game.

With the blades top scorer Evans found guilty the day before and in the custody of the prison service United didn't really look that threatening going forward the other in form striker Cresswell was also not playing and Porter and later an aging Beatie couldn't find a way through the Dons defence Martin seemed to position himself in the right place at the right time for any shots that came his way and the blades seemed to fluff any other chances they got.
Smith was unlucky later with a header that Doyle cleared off the line and Jabo hit the post after a nice little run down the left after earlier having a shot tipped over by Simonsen.

When Powell got a second yellow and an early bath we still looked comfortable and dare I say the better team although twenty five minutes with ten men is tense watching and it was not the pretty free flowing football we have seen but it was a good team performance and despite the size of some of the United players we won any individual battles on the pitch, a good solid performance and an unexpected three points for me . The team lined up 4-2-3-1 Martin,Chicksen, MacKenzie, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Bowditch (O'Shea 75), Smith (Ibehre 69), Powell; MacDonald (Chadwick 69).Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan.Booked: Lewington, Gleeson, Powell Goal by Smith on 16 Daniel was sent off on 66 as we might see them in play off's Sheffield United lined up Simonsen, Lowton, Hoskins (O'Halloran 61), Doyle (c), Williamson, Collins, Maguire, Porter (Beattie 77), McDonald, Quinn (Flynn 61), Hill. Subs not used: Howard, Taylor.Booked: Quinn, Williamson. referee was again quite poor and card happy Dean Whitestone from Northamptonshire Attendance: 15,938 with 6,135 away fans.

Ahead of the Rochdale game I spoke Robbo who said he would rest some players but still put out a strong team but would give Brendan Galloway from the academy a game I asked about George Williams but he has not signed a new contract yet so Robbo was not going to feature him I think he has probably had his head turned by the amount of scouts that have been looking at him but thats just my opinion.
The last away game saw a trip to Rochdale who were already relegated the Dons wanted to cement 4th spot although the chairman would probably prefer to finish 5th and get the Saturday play off game at home as Huddersfield will bring a lot more to MK on a Saturday than they will on a Tuesday night.
As Robbo told me Thursday Brendan Galloway started but there were no real surprises team wise we never seemed to get out of second gear and the result did not seem in any doubt after Jay scored after three minutes and when Bowditch got the second in the fifty eighth minute I was hoping we would get another clean sheet but it was not to be as Akpa Akpro spoilt the party with a goal on eighty five minutes, it was another professional performance and we always seemed to have a spare gear .

But its momentum we need and we have that going into the last game against Walsall and April has been a good month with four wins and one draw the team lined up 4-2-3-1 Martin; Chicksen, MacKenzie, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter (MacDonald 68), Galloway (Bowditch 57); Chadwick, Gleeson (Flanagan 72), O'Shea; Ibehre subs not used were McLoughlin, Smith and the goals came from O'Shea 3, Bowditch 58 attendance was just 2,212 but Dale were already relegated so to be expected I guess.
So play off's it is and we know we will play Huddersfield I think we can beat them then it comes down to Wembley and one of the Sheffield clubs to our advantage both Huddersfield and United are having a touch of the wobbles whereas we seem to have high confidence and momentum but as we know it is a lottery.

This will be the last blog of the season as I will not be able to get one out in June for various reasons I hope everyone has enjoyed my ramblings and since the blog went on its own I have had over two and half thousand views plus the views on football speak which was two thousand I think but I havent posted on there since month after the QPR game so not sure on exact figure.

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