Monday, 29 October 2012

October Blog

Sad to see the Back of Jimmy Bullard ! Picture was taken as Jimmy arrived for Blackburn game watched by Karl Robinson sadly Jimmy did not make many appearances in the Players entrance.

The month of October started with the sad but not unexpected news that Jimmy Bullard had been forced to retire due to a recurring knee injury I met and spoke to Jimmy a few times but not as many times as Id have liked and like many fans I would have liked to see him play a lot more here at MK Dons.

Jimmy's career has included stints with West Ham Peterborough Wigan Athletic, Fulham Ipswich and Hull City the midfielder has had a 14-year playing career but has been plagued with injury in later years.

Jimmy ruptured the cruciate ligaments in his knee twice in three years once at Fulham and again on his debut for Hull in 2009 and three years on the pain and playing restrictions forced Bullard to visit a consultant the last week of September after the news broke Jimmy said “My old knee injury has never allowed me to get back to where I want to be as a football player; it’s always hindered me. There are a lot of games in this League and I now know my knee won’t allow me to play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday, it’s not built for that now.I want to be out there playing but at the same time I know my knee won’t allow me to play at my best and to keep my place in the team. I’m hindering myself more than I am helping myself for the future.” This ended his career just four weeks after Jimmy signed a short-term deal with the Dons.
Jimmy added “I honestly think MK Dons can do something special with the manager and the group of players they have here. I wish them all the best and I hope they realise how lucky they are to be at a Club like this and to play for a manager like Karl, because he’s going to achieve great things for this Club. I believe he is going to become a top manager.

Good Luck Jimmy and I am sure whatever you do in the future it will be with a smile on your face.

Our next game and first of the month was against Coventry a team that not so long ago were top flight , like us they have a 32 thousand seater stadium although theirs is complete.
The attendance's this season have been about the same as ours no doubt boosted by away fans wanting to see the once Prem boys ground..
Sadly the fixture was on a Tuesday night which meant a lot of our away regulars could not attend but 697 of the MK Army did make the trip.

Coventry have had a rubbish start to the season and sat in the relegation zone but under new manager Mark Robins had just picked up a win the Saturday before.

The game followed a now familiar patten with the Dons starting slowly and under pressure and even conceded an early'ish goal.

Gleeson got a goal from a deflected shot after we had a free kick and we were then back in the game but Charlie again missed a sitter when he seemed to get tangled up in his own feet and Powell missed a chance as well the rest of the team seemed frightened to shoot and the game played out to a frustrating one all draw with the whole second half a nail-biting frustrating affair.

I don't think Coventry will be in the relegation zone for long but at the time it was on paper a game we perhaps should have won. I consoled myself with the fact it was a point on the road which I am usually happy with but this pattern of being the stronger team and missing chances is now getting boring.
The teams lined up
Coventry: Murphy, Baker, McSheffrey (Fleck 68) , Barton (Ball 78), Christie, Wood, Edjenguele (Cameron 68), McGoldrick, Moussa, Reckord, Bailey. Unused subs: Dunn, Hussey, Willis, Henderson.Goal was by Wood on 34
Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Lewington, Williams, Gleeson, Potter, Bowditch, MacDonald (Smith 79), Powell, Kay, Chadwick (O'Shea 73) Unused subs: McLoughlin, Doumbe, Chicksen (why is he not starting ?), Lowe, O'Shea, Allan.
The goal by Gleeson was on 42
Attendance was 9,948 and 697 were Dons fans where have all Coventry's fans gone ?
The draw meant we slipped down to fifth from third going into the Portsmouth game.

On Thursday I spoke to Karl at Woughton and mentioned the missed chances and the fact Id seen the strikers and wingers working on shooting with Wrighty that morning.

Karl said we work on it all the time and that it was frustrating for him watching the players not shooting or missing chances, Id said that it was the tap in's we seem to be missing and Karl then mentioned the players he had wanted to bring in and that he had been told he cant have them.

Karl also said later when myself and another fan asked about Portsmouth that although they are on one month contract's a few are on a lot more than any of our players including Izale ! I got the impression Karl is feeling some pressure although we are fifth in the league and still well placed to push on.

I thought at the start of the season that as a club we seem to be expecting to get Automatic and that this does put a hell of a lot of pressure on the manager and players !

Portsmouth manager Micheal Appleton signs autographs as he arrives at StadiumMK

I got to the stadium about one o'clock and there were already a lot of Pompey fans about with one coach arriving about half twelve I was told.

I got chatting to a couple of Pompey fans and they informed me of the current situation regarding the administration and likely buyers but did not think that the fan trust option could work but it might be the only one ! they also said they still could not believe they were in third division and said that the Championship was the league they enjoyed most as the Prem seemed to be about survival and they thought it was quite boring knowing they would finish on forty points and just survive.

The game itself started very badly for the Dons and within 4 minutes the Dons all time leading scorer Izale McLeod did what returning players often do and scored against his old club, and this was after a missed pen by captain Brian Howard that Izale had earned Pompey.

And the pressure was on and continued until Gabor Gyepes put us under even more re on 20 minutes when he made it two nil.

The Dons seemed to get over the shock of the mad first half hour of pressure and slowly got back into the game then Webster managed to get the ball in his own net after a cross from Lewie was knocked on from Kay and it was game on.

Second half was altogether a more even affair and Potter slotted the ball in after Powell missed his chance and it was honours even, we kept pressing but again miss having a striker that can actually score even Chadders missed a chance.

I thought Mustapha Dumbuya and Wesley Thomas were the pick of the Pompey players and keeper Andersen incidentaly all are on loan Thomas from Bournemouth the other two from Reading.
The teams lined up Dons: Martin; Otsemobor (Smith 33), Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Powell, Chadwick, Bowditch; MacDonald (Allan 69)
Goals were by: Webster (og) 40 and Potter 72
We had two booked: Kay and Smith
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Chicksen, Kouo-Doumbe, O’Shea

Pompey: Andersen; Dumbuya, Michalik, Gyepes, Webster; Williamson, Ertl, Howard (c) (Buzasaky 81), Harley; Thomas (Obita 81), McLeod
Goals by McLeod 4 and Gyepes 20
Booked just McLeod old habits and all that.
Subs not used: Eastwood, Walker, Compton, Harris, Rodgers

The Referee was David Coote who I did not think was as bad as some thought I probably give him a seven out of ten.

Attendance was 10,409 helped by an excellent 2,552 very noisy Pompey fans.
But it was really all about Izale that day.

Izale McLeod Still MK Dons all time leading goalscorer and likely to remain so on our current strikers form.

Before the Preston game there was a behind closed door match against Brighton, as it was at the Stadium we did not get to see it but reading the two clubs reports it seems both clubs were happy with the performances and no injuries were sustained.

We had two trialists playing but neither have been named one came on and set up Alli and then scored himself I often hear who the trialists are but most of the time nothing comes of it so I don't bother and really think its not fair to name them unless Im told it does not matter.

Dons played a mixture of returning from injury players, trialists and players who haven't had a game for a while along with some of the academy players.
McLoughlin had a good game by all accounts and the teams lined up
Dons in the usaul first team 4-2-3-1 formation: McLoughlin; Osae (Trialist 46), Hickford, Doumbe, Chicksen, Galloway, Alli; Osei-Addo (Summerfield 77), Allan, Trialist; Lowe.

Subs not used keeper Charlie Burns.
Goals: Alli 47, Trialist 58

Albion used a 4-3-3 formation East, Sampayo, Dunk, Jones (Akubuine 66), Painter; Richards (Peake 83), March, Gray (Wiltshire 60); Barker, Goodwin, Agdestein. Subs not used: Keeper Smith .

There was good and bad news later in the week when we heard Gary MacKenzie would be out for three months but that Doumbe was unscathed from his run out against Brighton and was fit to play on Sunday against Preston North End.
Our next game was against Preston and we have never beaten them so expectation's were not really high.
The game was on Sky but it probably was not the best game for the viewing public as the teams cancelled each other out for the better part of the game.

It was a typical Dons performance in many ways and we again lacked the killer blow in the final third I commented on twitter through the game that we seem to have a player missing ! by that I mean we get those crosses in the box and there is no one there to tap in usually because we are not playing 4-4-2 or in the second half at Deepdale because when we do we have no fox in the box.

Sodje missed a couple of sitters and if truth were told Preston had the better of the chances although I thought we were slightly the better team..but I think we have heard that a few too many times this season.

The most controversial decision of the game I thought was the blatant penalty that was not seen by either the referee or the ideally placed Linesman, or assistant referee as they like to be called but in reality they rarely assist.

MacDonald was clearly brought down by Stuckmann but the referee bizarrely awarded a goal kick and more surprisingly not booking McDonald who he obviously thought dived.

The pundits Ronnie Moore and Peter Beagrie in the Sky studio both agreed it was a stonewall penalty as did many Preston fans, in fact it was hard to find anyone who thought otherwise.

Another draw and although almost always welcome on the road at this quarter way through the season stage one has to wonder if the Auto spots are a realistic target !

Yes we are playing at times some nice football no hoofball and no dirty tactics but we are not getting those results that are the difference between the teams that get promoted and the also rans.

The teams lined up Preston North End: Stuckmann, Keane, Laird, Wroe, Huntington (Robertson, 35), Wright, Monakana, Welsh, Beavon, Sodje (Cummins, 82), Hayhurst (Mousinho, 46). Subs not used: Simonsen, Amoo, Cummins, Procter, King.

Dons Lined up: Martin, Otsemobor, Lewington, Doumbe, Williams, Gleeson, Potter, Bowditch, Smith (Lowe, 64), Chadwick, Allan (McDonald, 64). Subs not used: Chicksen, McLoughlin, O’Shea.

Attendance was 8,327 with 177 annoyed Dons fans.

The referee was Craig Pawson who up till the penalty appeal was not too bad well for what we are used to in League one anyway.

We stay seventh for the second week and next up we have a local Derby with Wesley's former team high flying Stevenage

Stevenage Manager Gary Smith

Next up was a home game against Stevenage who have had a great start to the season with just a minor blip the week before.
In fact they have had the sort of start we wish we had.

Stevenage also get my newly created award for the friendliest players and manager to come to Milton Keynes, all the players stopped and chatted and Robin Shroot even got a couple of tickets for one of the fans.

I was chatting to one of the fans and his mum and they said they are always like that and couple of players even knew them by name and said hello as they arrived.

As for the game well it was same old same old we probably deserved a draw but the headers and shots we did have were weak and the keeper made good saves and held on to the ball to deny any tap in we could have got.
To make things worse Gleeson will be out for up to three months after a foot injury.
Robin Shroot
Mark Roberts

We now moved down the table into eighth place as other results helped us not slip down any further, few boo's at the end and even odd shout of Robbo out which is a bit over the top considering we were playing a good side.
But the frustration of a toothless strike force and a loss at home and the high expectation of fans this season seemed to boil over.
As a crowd we were the quietest I have (not) heard all season made worse by the as always noisy Stevenage lot.
Teams lined up
Dons the not working 4-2-3-1: Martin, Otsemobor (Chicksen 62), Kouo-Doumbe, Williams, Lewington (c), Potter, Gleeson, Chadwick, Allan, O’Shea (MacDonald 62), Smith (Lowe 62).
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Kay.

Booked just Chicksen according to OS but Otsemobor got a yellow as I remember.

Stevenage also lined up 4-2-3-1 but got a goal: Arnold, Gray, N’Gala, Roberts (c), Charles; Tansey, Dunne; Akins, Morais (Rogers82), Freeman (Risser 72), Haber.

Subs not used: Day, Ball, Iro, Lopez, Shroot.

Booked Charles according to OS but I thought there was another but couldn't find record of it on BBC match report and can not be bothered to look elsewhere.

Referee: Andrew Madley from West Yorkshire who was okay seven out of ten.

Attendance: 9,190 1,019 noisy away fans.

The FA Cup first round draw saw us get an away draw at Cambridge City which has gone down well with everyone including City fans who are buzzing about the draw the only downside was the amount of tickets we were allocated due to the size of the Milton Road ground.

So after the home loss it was back on the road to newly promoted Crawley for the Tuesday night game.
But just before the game came the news that Angelo Balanta the QPR winger had signed up for his third spell at the Dons by agreeing a one-month loan move.

The 22-year-old, whose last senior appearance was for the Dons last December ,Angelo was available for the trip to Crawley.

However he will not be allowed to play in the FA Cup first round tie at Cambridge City on 2 November.

Balanta played 49 games during his two previous loan stints at Stadium MK and scored 12 goals.

Angelo's QPR appearances have been few and far between and last played in April 2010 but he has signed a new two-year contract in the summer.

But even the return of Angelo was not enough to change the fortune's of the team and we lost 2-0 Karl said after the game he was sounding like a broken record and I feel the same writing about the matches lately, better team missed chances etc etc we have now slipped down to tenth in the league and look more like a pretty football playing mid table team than a promotion chasing efficient one.

The fans are getting restless and more annoyed by the week and I think the reasons are clear for us all to see, the system is not working ! we have not got Keith Andrews or Lloyd Dyer or even Peter Leven to get goals from midfield and the strikers we have got are not capable of playing to any effect the lone striker role.

The teams lined up
Crawley Town: P Jones, Sadler, McFadzean, Akpan (Torres 86), Clarke (M Jones 90), Alexander (c), Simpson, Bulman (Connolly 86), Adams, Bryne, Davis.

Subs not used: M Kuipers, Connolly, Forte, Hunt.

Booked: Clarke, Davis

Goals: both by Clarke on 21 and 89

MK Dons: Martin; Otsemobor, Kouo-Doumbe, Kay, Lewington (c); Potter, Williams; Powell, Chadwick (Smith 74), Balanta (Chicksen 65); MacDonald (Lowe 46).

Subs not used: McLoughlin, Gleeson who's injury was not as bad as first thought, O’Shea, Allan who now return's to his parent club.

Booked: Just Williams

Referee was Simon Hooper the attendance was 2,853 with 249 Dons fans.

So it was off Scunthorpe a team that according to Karl have a third of the budget they had when in the Championship and judging by the attendance on the day about a fifth of the fans they had then.

Languishing at the bottom end of the table it was a good time to play them at their place the fans are unhappy and the manager under pressure and Scunthorpe's problems seem massive compared to ours going into the game.

But you still have to win the games and with our recent worries I was not that convinced when I saw the starting line up with Doumbe left out and Chicksen left on the bench again , we seemed to be relying on lone striker Alan Smith who has scored twice in five years to get us on the score sheet.

Apart from a few spells we bossed the game and for a change our recent and usual dominance resulted in goals with MOTM Luke Chadwick grabbing a brace and Smith getting a tap in (although it came off a centre back last). Luke's first was a bit on the lucky side with Slocombe fumbling his save and giving Luke the chance to bury the goal but we have not had that bit of luck of late so I'll take it, his second was featured on SSN as possible goal of the day but his hatrick alluded him as Slocombe guessed right and saved the penalty.

I think that game was quite a turning point and fully expect us to push on in the League where we climb from 10th to 8th and the Auto dream was alive again and definitely within reach of the Play Off's.

The teams lined up
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe, Ribeiro, Walker, Mirfin, Reid (c), Jennings (Ryan 71), Duffy, Collins, Newey, Hawley, Prutton (Grella 64).
Subs not used: Severn, Kennedy, Gibbons, Canavan, Keegan.

Dons lined up: Martin; Otsemobor, Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Powell (Chicksen 37), Chadwick (O’Shea 84), Balanta; Smith (Lowe 75).
Subs not used: McLoughlin, MacDonald, Alli.
Booked: The usaul suspects Kay and Smith
Goals by Chadwick were on 17 and 30, and Smith on 60
Referee was Dean Whitestone
Attendance was another low one of 2,737 with 164 very cold Don's fans.
Man of the Match Luke Chadwick

So one win in the whole of October and a frustrating time for many of us but such is the League this season with no real runaway leaders we are still up there.

Stevenage lost and Tranmere drew losing points, in fact point wise we are still up there with the pack chasing Automatic, and right there with the play off contenders.

Crawley are up to second which makes our loss there seem a bit more bearable in fact none of the League one teams won at home on Saturday 27th.

But at the end of last month I wrote that we were third and had seventeen points one behind Notts and just four away from Tranmere with nine games gone.
We are now eighth with twenty three points 15 games into the season.

We are 2 points behind Notts and are now 8 points behind leaders Tranmere and 6 points behind second and third place Crawley and Stevenage.

Next up the magic of the FA Cup and away to Cambridge City the game will be on ESPN on Friday night if you can not be there for any reason and it will be a nice pay day for City.

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