MK Dons turn on the style against Bradford as Williamson earns his first three points


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MK Dons put managerless Bradford City to the sword on Tuesday night, running 4-1 victors to give Mike Williamson his first three points as head coach.

It was the side from Buckinghamshire’s most potent display of the season to date and will lift fans spirits greatly.

Mike Williamson’s arrival at Stadium MK and his first foray in front of the home supporters was like a breath of fresh air, as his side gave arguably one of the best displays in the last three seasons.

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The side look rejuvenated, unshackled, and eager to get onto the front foot, somewhat in stark contrast to what was on display under the previous managerial regime of Graham Alexander.

Goals from Joe Tomlinson, Jack Payne, Max Dean and Alex Gilbey sealed the three points and gave the Bantams little chances in the 90 minutes.

If the game versus Bradford City can provide anything to read in to, the days of lethargic and monotonous route one football have been abandoned, opening the door for playing through the phases and seemingly passing with purpose.

Off the ball the intensity of defence has increased and there appears a determination to win back the ball, energetically pressing and harrying the opposing defenders.

Having only had three days on the training field with his new players, you would be hard-pressed to expect a complete turnaround in style and pattern so quickly, after all it is just the second game in after just seven days in the role, but it is obvious to all in attendance that the hard work is beginning to sprout roots and that is all Williamson could wish for.

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For those recruited to the football club in the last twelve months, it will spell positives for most players, but for a select few, question how often they will take to the field at Stadium MK.

Whilst Williamson’s arrival will see players such as Conor Grant and Ethan Robson breathe a huge sigh of relief, Anthony Stewart and Ellis Harrison may not share the same level of enthusiasm.

Players spend their careers on the football pitch, yet  off the field every performance gets dissected, and under the microscope the method, or style which they are more suited to individually is a tag which tends to stick.

Taking Anthony Stewart for example, having been a stalwart for Wycombe Wanderers under Gareth Ainsworth, whose Chairboys were never a team that attempted to play on the floor, work the ball around the pitch, carving opportunities.

They built their success and consistency on being a more pragmatic, robust outfit that were happy to concede possession and not worry about having 400 passes a match, simply put, just making the result the most important.

“Winning ugly” became a mantra for Alexander and Stewart was a perfect player to fit and operate in his mould.

Having left Wycombe and moved over the border to Aberdeen, who operate a similar style to the Milton Keynes, Stewart just could not break the mould and was quickly shipped out after just 20 displays.

Having found himself in MK, he must now either reinvent himself or find that he could be in the cold.

Striker Ellis Harrison, recruited for his ability to put the ball in the back of the net, after a prolific spell for League One Port Vale, dropped down a division as he moved south to the Dons.

Having scored just once since joining, it was not the return the powerful forward had wished for, and as a player not known for his possession-retention ability, his days as a number nine in a Williamson-led Dons outfit could be sparse to say the least.

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Under a new leadership team no place in the side is guaranteed and for those who stepped in for their first starts in recent weeks, they took the opportunity to showcase what they can add, giving Williamson a positive selection headache.

Upon taking the job and looking at what the previous three head coaches had selected, he may have questioned why all of those did not see Conor Grant as a player they could rely on.

Yet, after being brought back in from the cold to make only his second appearance and first start of the campaign, the Irishman did not let his new coach down.

Winning seven of his 9 duels he competed for and making numerous key passes in the first half, Grant let his football do the talking.

He and his new head coach will be hoping that this was more than just a one time display.

The Dons will not have to wait long for their next chance to play to keep the momentum building and confidence growing as they host Swindon Town on Saturday.

If they pick up at the weekend exactly where they ended against Bradford, that can only spell good things for the supporters of Milton Keynes.

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About Author

Covering Milton Keynes Dons football, Northants Steelbacks Cricket and the England International side also.

1 Comment

  1. Always enjoy reading these match summaries. This author always gives a well balanced view.