Mikael Mandron at the double as the Railwaymen knock the Dons off their tracks


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A five-minute brace from Mikael Mandron was enough to derail a lethargic performance from MK Dons as Crewe Alexandra ran out 2-0 winners at Stadium MK.

The result could and probably should have been closer, were it not for heroics from Crewe goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen, who made two excellent saves at the death to earn his clean sheet well and truly. Both sides sit on equal points, eight points outside the Play-Off places.

Mikael Mandron, when he was in the fledgeling stages of his career was seen as a prodigy-in-the-making. Despite being only 26 years old, he has become a rather nomadic striker to date after playing for nine clubs in as many years.

Coming through the youth setup at Sunderland, his years in the Tyne and Wear rather, unfortunately, happened to coincide with the Mackem’s catastrophic fall down the Football League pyramid. Not quite to the same extent but the Frenchman’s career path slipped from the highs of the Championship into the National League, turning out for Hartlepool and Eastleigh.

Continuing his rise back through the leagues saw Mandron undertake numerous trials in an attempt to find a new club to continue his profession, especially after a failed spell with Wigan Athletic where he only featured three times, eventually Colchester United came calling.

Two seasons with the U’s followed by a solitary year at Gillingham, he now finds himself approaching another crossroads in his progression pathway. Having a history of only being at a side for a single season and with his contract set to expire this summer, will he remain with the Railwaymen come August, or will the forward potentially notch up club number 10?

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Being a combative striker in the modern era can also be as much of a hindrance as a blessing. As a player known for his power and use of his physical attributes, it can at times encourage referees to believe that fouls are being committed when in fact they are outmuscling their opponents, similar to how Chuks Aneke at Charlton Athletic and Andy Carroll at Newcastle United.

For all their physical prowess, the craftsmanship needed of the modern striker to be able to run in behind the backline of the opposition defence and be adept with their technical attributes also has seen Mandron change his game in the last couple of seasons.

Less of a target man, he now tries to utilise his “strikers’ instinct” to earn his rewards, and he did so with full effect to earn his teammates and David Artell all three points away in Buckinghamshire on a sunny-yet-blustery Easter Monday.

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His first goal came after only 15 minutes of the first-half, and it was courtesy of sloppy defending from the Dons. MK Dons defender Zak Jules was caught in possession in the centre of defence, leading a 2-on-1 break with Owen Dale and Charlie Kirk pouncing.

As Dale sold the defender it gave Kirk the chance to square the ball across the face of goal, where Mandron had used his reading of the play to create the space. Upon receiving the ball, he swivelled and duly slotted home giving a sprawling Andrew Fisher no chance in goal.

Only five minutes later and Crewe had a second, thanks to exactly the same route. With Charlie Kirk finding space behind the hosts’ right wing-back Daniel Harvie, the ball was centred aerially and controlled well by Mandron, who spun, and whilst outmuscling his marker, fired home from the inside the area.

The powerful manner in which the French forward was able to fend off the defender and strike in one movement was impressive and well taken, giving delight to manager Artell for recalling Mandron to the starting line up, having been used fleetingly off the bench in Alexandra’s previous two matches, the win away at Northampton Town and a home loss to Hull City.

For all of Mandron’s good work offensively, Artell will also be thankful for the good form of goalkeeper Will Jaaskelainen, who made two excellent saves at the very death of the match to keep his clean sheet intact.

Jaaskelainen, the son of former Premier League goalkeeper Jussi, produced two magnificent saves late on in the match. When Dons substitute Charlie Brown leapt and guided his headed effort on target, he must have thought he had got on the scoreboard but the Crewe goalkeeper somehow managed to reach the ball, preventing an almost-certain goal from going in and tipping it over the bar to safety.

The 22-year-old then made another magnificent parry keeping out a last-minute effort from Matt O’Riley. His wonderful handling meant MK could not unpick the lock and end the Easter period pointless.

This result means MK Dons fall to 13th with 54 points after 39 games, whilst Crewe Alexandra to 14th with 54 points also to their name, having played 38 matches this season.

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Covering Milton Keynes Dons football, Northants Steelbacks Cricket and the England International side also. https://twitter.com/themalicat

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