Sunday, 1 April 2012

March Blog

Steve Perryman MBE Director at Exeter arrives at S:MK.

With eight games this month I'll start with news from around the club then do the match summaries together.

During the first week of March I spoke to Karl about the sacking of Megson at Sheffield Wednesday and how I was surprised that he was sacked while the team were still in with a shout at Auto, Robbo said he was not surprised as Megson had been given a lot of money and had a big squad and he had heard Jones had the job this was days before the appointment of Jones.
Robbo said he was surprised at the Allen sacking as he had not had the money and had done well with what he had, I said knowing Allen it was more likely something he'd done around the club rather than what he had done on the field, Notts county then appointed Keith Curle and Notts put a run together and as I write sit in a play off spot so maybe the county chairman got it right !
I found out that the two trialists who played in the Wycombe game were from Argentina. Paul Slane told me he was knackered after that Wycombe "development " game as he hadnt played a full game for a while so I figured he would only have a small part at Hartlepool.

Towards the third week of March we had four keepers training with us, some of you might remember Laurie Walker a former keeper here from 07 to 09 who was shipped out to Cambridge Unt where he stayed a year before going to Morecambe for a year he only made one appearance for each club before going to Kettering in June 11 where he has made thirty four appearances and as far as I know he is stil with them and at twenty two he is still relatively young for a keeper. The other keeper was Staurt Searle who has been here before training and is still with Chelmsford.

Before the Orient game I spoke to Karl about the striker rumour and he said he was looking and that the striker he was after was better than Jordan Rhodes who Id said would be great but we'd never afford him, Karl had a different view point to me and the striker he named was not in my opinion better than Rhodes but I guess everyone has a viewpoint and mine was based purely on the fact Rhodes scores tons of goals and Karl's was probably based on the complete package !
We did have a striker though Robert Hall was also here training the West Ham loanee had spoken to Sam Baldock before coming here and Sam gave him the heads up on the club.

Robert said "It was an easy decision to come here because I hadn't been at home for a while because I have been at Oxford. It is nice to be living at home and having a big club just up the road". Robert is from Aylesbury.
Ahead of the Wycombe game I said to Karl that the Orient game had me nervous at 2-1 and as he said in the local paper I also could see the O's getting a equaliser and thought they were a pretty good team certainly better than other teams we have failed to beat. Karl said he was treating the game as a real local derby and was playing a strong team the expression he used was simular to no feline type players but a bit ruder if you get my meaning ! I took from that he was prepared for a battle and I worried about the discipline and could see us replicating the famous nine men performance of a few seasons back but hoped we would get more than a draw this time.

We also heard George Baldock and Charlie Collins had joined Tamworth FC on loan until the end of the season this happened just before the emergency loan window closed the young Dons duo will spend the rest of the season with the Blue Square Premier League team and hopefully gain some first team action. Both Baldock and Collins have already enjoyed loan spells away from Milton Keynes this season. Baldock spent a month in League 2 with Northampton Town and featured in five games with the Cobblers Collins loan spells have been less successful but he has gained experiance.

On the Monday before the rescheduled Carlisle game I was surprised to see the team Robbo would play training at Woughton with O'Shea Slane Alan Smith on the bench team with Hall and it looked like we were going to pack the midfield and have no pace on the wings with Potter Gleeson Chadwick Bowditch looking to be behind Jabo and Powell I asked Karl if everyone was fit and he said he was putting Smith on the bench I was cheeky enough to suggest it looked like we were lined up to stifle Carlisle in midfield as that was how it looked to me. Karl was still moaning at the officials but he was not in a good mood as he was off to the dentist later.

On the Thursday before the Brentford game we had four players injured and not training Bowditch MacKenzie Doumbe and Chadwick were all missing but Baldock and Collins were here just to train and I thought how we could do with Baldock at least on the bench but he was going back to Tamworth.George said he was still feeling the effect of playing two games in a week and had been voted M.O.T.M in the Saturday game for Tamworth which he was happy about.

There was a TV crew at Woughton filming and Luke Ashmead from three counties was also there doing an interview with Tom Flanagan, in fact it was like a Friday press day with Simone and her trainee present even Lee Scriven turned up with his camera for a club interview. Sean Williams made me laugh when he said to Luke shouldn't you have a hat on(in reference to his shaven head )at the end of training on what was a lovely day. The mood amongst the players was good and no sign of any gloom setting in following the defeat to Carlisle.
On the Friday we heard Tav was on his way from Newcastle by train and rumour was he would go straight into the team which I thought was harsh on Chicksen but Robbo knows best!

So the long haul to Hartlepool was upon us and the team left Friday well all except George Williams who had to go to school and travelled up Saturday with Paul Heald our Keeper coach the team had five players missing with suspensions and injuries and Potter's illness. The game to and froed with no side really dominating, so the one one draw was probably the right result Chadders hit the post twice and Martin made a match winning save and a draw away is never a bad thing for me I thought before the game it was winnable but then I expected a draw at Bournemouth so I guess it evened itself out with four points from two away games!

The results that weekend meant our draw was not as bad as first thought with United losing Wednesday and Huddersfield both drawing( and we still have a game in hand on Wednesday),Stevenage sliped out of the play off's to be replaced by Notts who seem to be doing well without Allen but with our game in hand and providing we win it we would be ten points clear of them. The team for the day was Dons (4-3-2-1) Martin, Tavernier, Doumbe, Flanagan, Lewington (c); Smith, S Williams; Powell (Slane 85), Chadwick (G Williams 70), O'Shea; Ibehre. Subs not used: McLoughlin, Chicksen.Booked: Smith the goal came by O'Shea on 51. Attendance was 4,955 with 145 Dons fans.

The next game was against Yeovil on the following Tuesday and I think most of us thought we would win although I thought it wouldn't be a walk over I was pretty sure we would get a home win by one goal. Yeovil arrived early and I watched them come in Gary Johnson spoke to some of the Yeovil supporters and almost seemed to be resigned to defeat as he said " there a good team (Dons)but we'll give it a go " a fan shouted got to win this and Gary said "we'll try" to which I replied " but not too hard though" ! which got a smile from the Yeovil manager and a laugh from couple of our fans.

But that was the last of the laughs for me as the game started it was clear Yeovil had come for a draw and parked the proverbial bus in front of goal and despite the Dons clearly being the better team we lacked any cutting edge and could not hit the net something Yeovil managed against the run of play . Andy Williams picked up a stray pass and ran down the wing to get in a cross or shot not really sure if he meant to shoot but somehow it managed to go in I thought off Chicksen but the goal was credited as Gavin Williams.

Just on half time Parrett got sent off for a second yellow and like most fans I thought Robbo would give the players a rollicking half time and we would eventually break down the stubborn defence but the ten men held on as we got more and more frustrated on and off the pitch and just to make the night even worse Gleeson again showed his immaturity by getting sent off for kicking out Martin had saved us from further humiliation earlier but the rest of the team could not . The team lined up 4-2-3-1 Martin; Chicksen (G Williams 75), Kouo-Doumbe, S Williams, Lewington (c), Smith, Gleeson, Powell (Slane 86), Chadwick (Ibehre 54), O'Shea; Bowditch. Subs not used were McLoughlin, Flanagan. O'Shea got booked with Lewington and Gleeson will serve a ban for his red to add to Karls selection problems in a month that will define the season.
Exeter players arrive

The next game couldnt come quickly enough for me and I suspect most of the fans and controversy struck before the players had even got changed as Exeter informed us they had travelled to the game with only their red and white home strip which would have clashed with the all white strip of the Dons. This meant we were as the home side forced to play in our all black third kit, something which angered Robbo and till I found out why puzzled me.
Karl commented “They forgot their kit. They came with their home kit. John Gorman said ‘they can’t see us, we’re blending in with the empty seats!’ he went on to add“I don’t know if it was deliberate, or whether it was a mistake, but we had to deal with it. I wasn’t happy about it at the beginning. It’s not good. I don’t agree that we’ve had to change our kit on our home pitch.” After looking at the Exeter OS and the shop online page they dont seem to have a third kit and the second kit is white so I don't know what they could have done other than play in their underwear !
We got back to winning ways and Doumbe got a nice deflection on his shot to grab the first while Charlie Mac got lucky when he missed the first touch and the ball hit his trailing leg, Jabo's goal was well taken and needed a cool head as he rounded the keeper and slotted home we looked comfortable and never in danger of and it was an all round convincing performance,the team lined up 4-2-3-1 Martin,Doumbe, Flanagan, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Smith; Powell (Ibehre 70), O'Shea, Bowditch (Chadwick 70); MacDonald (Slane 82) Subs not used: McLoughlin and Chicksen.Goals by Doumbe 17, MacDonald 27, Ibehre 78. Attendance was 9,016 with 377 away fans.

Next up was Chesterfield the team travelled up on the day so no overnighter for the players. The game started in the worse possible way when the team were caught cold by the relegation struggles and conceded inside five minutes, this gave Chesterfield the confidence they needed and after a run of three wins and the addition the day before of Mousa the Dons struggled to get into the game with Chesterfield looking dangerous on the break and although we were not out of the game we couldn't find an equaliser first half and Chesterfield went into second half a goal to the good. Despite peppering the goal a few times we still couldn't find a way through and had to settle for the draw the keeper Tommy Lee having the game of his life. Dons lined up 4-2-3-1 Martin,Doumbe, Flanagan, Williams, Lewington (c) Potter, Smith, Chadwick (Hall 70), Ibehre (Powell 46), O'Shea, MacDonald.Subs not used: McLoughlin, Chicksen, Slane. to mark his debut Hall was booked and O'Shea got our goal on 55.Attendance: 6,444 (433 away)
Orient arrive Russell Slade first off coach.
Orient Keeper

Tuesday night saw the game with Orient and a return to MK for an old player Ben Chorley who I managed to say hello to as he arrived. The game started in the best way with an early goal from Charlie Mac but we were pegged back ten minutes later when Lisbie scored after a corner seemed to confuse our once again shuffled about defence. The changes in defence saw Lewie moving inside to partner Tom Flanagan and Chicksen took up the left back spot and I wondered if that was a sign of things to come ! Sean Williams got a goal on with a brilliantly taken header and we were back on top and went in to half time 2-1 up.
Second half saw us step up a gear and with the introduction of Jabo and Bowditch we looked more threatening and Jabo was in the right place to put us three one up with ten minutes to go. Orient battled on and caused a couple of scary moments but there was only going to be one winner on the night and with Powell's late strike we had beaten the O's again by three clear goals same as at Brisbane Rd we again lined up 4-2-3-1 although at times it looked like three at the back as Chicksen got so far forward the team was Martin, Doumbe, Flanagan, Lewington (c), Chicksen; Williams, Potter; Chadwick (Bowditch 69), O'Shea (Ibehre 67), Powell (Slane 87); MacDonald.Subs not used: McLoughlin, Hall.Booked: Williams Goals were MacDonald 3, Williams 22, Ibehre 80, Powell 84 Attendance was 6,842 with 436 away fans.

Next up was Wycombe and they had been on a good run and scoring plenty of goals but still sat at the wrong end of the table. I think most fans here thought we should win but a lot also thought a draw would be acceptable I was in the draw away is okay camp but as the game went on thought we should have won and but for Jay's penalty miss and couple of other half chances we would have Powell got a cracker of a goal and build up play for it was good and stats should we had most of the pocession but again we didn't kill the game off when we had the chance and were left to rue those wasted chances in the ninety first minute when Wanderers equalised. Karl said after the game Auto was a distant dream and to be fair it has been all season for me I never really thought we would get Auto which is why I predicted fifth ! a spot we seem to have occupied most of the season the game was not a thriller but we are still in with a mathematical chance of top two but not likely. Dons lined up 4-2-3-1) Martin,Doumbe, Flanagan, Williams, Lewington (c); Gleeson, Potter; Powell, Smith (Ibehre 78), O'Shea (Bowditch 64); MacDonald (Chadwick 90).Subs not used: McLoughlin, Hall.Booked as per Smith Attendance: 5,572 with 1243 Dons so just 4300 Wycombe fans watched the game which I thought was pretty poor.
The last Tuesday game of the month saw the return of Carlisle and the rescheduled game when the covers were not put on the whole pitch. As the Carlisle players arrived I said to Greg Abbott the manager the pitch is not frozen put it might be cracked from the sun he laughed and said something about the covers being on last night John Paul McGovern came of over for a chat with a couple of us waiting.
Greg Abbott moving so fast he's blurred !

The first half both sides had their spells but it was all square and I thought then it was going to be very close the second half had plenty of drama when MacDonald and Powell found a way through the defence to find Chadwick who hit the ball and it appeared to cross the line but Peter Murphy got the ball out somehow and fooled the slow west side lino who had not kept up with play, assistant referee Alexandra Ihringova ruled it out and as a result the score remained goalless again robbed by unfit officials (I know I sound like Robbo).

The game was for the neutral probably quite exciting to watch and overall it was a pretty even affair with both sides having there moments and I thought a draw would have been the right result but again we conceded through a penalty in 90th minute and again proved we lack the concentration to hold onto a result draw or Win. I thought when Abbott took off Zoko great he's taken the best player off but Cook seemed to be the right choice and scored both the goals for the Cumbrians so Abbott's tactics won the day with a little help from some iffy decisions. . Team lined up Dons (4-2-3-1) Martin; Kouo-Doumbe (O'Shea 68), Williams, Flanagan, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Powell, Chadwick (Smith 75), Bowditch; MacDonald (Ibehre 69).Subs not used: McLoughlin, Hall.Goal: Williams (pen) 79 Carlise's goals came on 83 and 90 both by Cook Attendance considering free tickets was disappointing at 8,608 and 594 away were away fans.

The final game of the month saw the family day against Brentford a team with a twenty seven man squad the same amount of players as us and with about five being loan players. Our squad is really twenty one but some of the kids have squad numbers and with our injuries and loans we have fourteen players to pick from for this game and I have to say I was not all that confident with the quality Brentford have available. Morrison is a player we all know and I could see him causing us problems. As it turned out the problems were our own making and apart from a bright ten minutes or so at the start and a more urgent ten minutes at the end we showed no quality or usual flowing football for the majority of the game, in fact if we had managed to get a draw it would have been harsh on the Bee's who were the better team with Donaldson and Douglas causing all sorts of problems on the wing and in midfield respectively.

Brentford deserved the win no doubt about it but the referee Gary Sutton was abysmal and booked seven players stopped play for petty things got loads of decisions wrong for both sides and I thought was the worst referee I had seen this season and there have been some bad one's.
We lined up 4-2-3-1 Martin, Tavernier (Ibehre 73), Flanagan, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Powell, Smith, O'Shea (Hall 62); MacDonald.Subs: McLoughlin, Chicksen, Slane
Booked: Smith, Flanagan, Potter, Lewington Goal: Williams 88 (pen)Attendance was 11,570 with 1,170 noisy Bee's.

March was a crucial month and from going from looking at the Auto spot we are now looking at holding on to a play off spot and have picked up nine points from twenty one in what was a relatively easy March fixture list. We had our biggest home league attendance and played perhaps our worst football of the season which wont help attendances for next few home games and the day trippers wont be rushing back all in all a very disappointing March lets hope April we can recapture some of the earlier form we showed or I fear like the Auto spot a play off spot might be beyond us.

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