Milton Keynes are feeling the ‘Christmas spirit’ after two wins in two so far


Embed from Getty Images

Milton Keynes Dons are having a stellar festive period and show no signs of slowly down as they saw off Colchester United in a laboured-yet-determined fashion, running out 1-0 victors.

Having put Morecambe to the sword on their own ground with a ruthless 1-3 away win, the Dons then turned their attention to Colchester, under the management of Matthew Etherington and the visitor’s performance belied their lowly position toward the foot of the League table, showing glimpses of real quality, offering up a more than stern test.

It took to the second half and the dying embers of the match for the pressure to finally tell.

Coming out of the interval the game flowed better than the opening salvo’s and having survived a couple of scares along the path, MK unleased a barrage of chances, carving open one chance after another but found themselves facing Owen Goodman in goal for the U’s, making a hatful of wondrous saves to deny the attacking frontline.

Despite the final onslaught more resembling a training ground scenario of attack vs defence, Colchester managed to withstand and repel until the 89th minute when substitute Ellis Harrison bundled home from close range to earn the spoils.

The match also marked Dean Lewington’s 771st club appearance, breaking a 43-year-old record held by John Trollope, and one which come to the time the legendary defender does hang up his boots, given the lack of permanency in modern-day football, may never be broken.

At kick off, the fans revealed a banner saying “Then. Now. Forever.” In honour of the captain and club stalwart.

771 games for one team, across 20 years shows incredible fitness, determination, and drive to maintain the skill required to play at one of the highest levels in the English football pyramid.

Credit: DonsAction

With two hard-fought victories from the two games of the bumper Christmas football calendar completed, Mike Williamson, will be hoping to continue the momentum as they face Crawley Town and Doncaster Rovers within the next six days.

Williamson, in his first football league managerial stint since cutting his teeth at Gateshead, has hit the ground running, and is looking to carry on game-after-game.

They are not only limiting the chances the opposition are having per game, dropping from an average of 8.6 shots on target, to 4.7.

This even takes into consideration two matches which were real thrillers, ending 3-2 and 4-2 against Swindon Town and Salford City respectively.

With the 40-year-old able to call upon his Premier League experience, alongside his coaching pedigree, he and his backroom staff have seen an immediate affect as they have improved the abilities of his defenders, raised the cohesion and the defensive structure of his squad each week.

If you are not conceding as many shots, you are not conceding as many goals.

One of the other contributary factors of this has been that because the Dons are controlling more possession than before it means that the production levels have increased too.

Under the previous leadership of Graham Alexander, the Dons failed to produce anything of substance, threw away several positive positions and fundamentally looked weak in terms of the level of play.

Using Alexander’s last game in charge, at home to Barrow, the Dons were winning 2-0 in the 93rd minute and somehow contrived to draw, 2-2.

They only mustered 38% possession throughout the match and managed just five attempts to score also.

Conceding 62% of the ball, at home, allowing a whopping 18 chances in the game and then capitulating in the final seconds emphasised the lack of structure, leadership and understanding at what was being asked of them under the previous regime.

Fast forward 11 weeks, and the picture paints a different story.

Having to face just three attempts, controlling 66% of the possession and unleashing a season-high 27 shots, it is to no surprise that the Dons came out on top.

Under Alexander, it may well have been a different result, with the hosts not coming out on top, possibly succumbing at the very death.

It is clear the fundamental areas in which the change of leadership at Stadium MK has born fruit.

Embed from Getty Images

Looking ahead to the new year, the recruitment team within Stadium MK will know the areas they need to look at improving and which players to look at shipping out.

Strengthening the squad depth, as apposed to recruiting players to the starting eleven will be the number one priority.

Using the strike force as an example, the Dons have Max Dean, Mo Eisa, Matthew Dennis, and Ellis Harrison.

Whilst it is one which a lot of other sides would be envious for, the system that Williamson chooses to operate with may negatively affect that selection of player.

Playing just one up top in a 4-2-3-1 formation, you could argue that the depth may be bloated.

However, Harrison and Dennis are more used to playing a differing style, one that is less possession orientated and more direct.

Whilst it is a good issue to have, there a several players throughout the ranks that are more accustomed to playing less-possessive system.

It is likely that Liam Sweeting, the Technical Director, will be looking to move on the likes of Tommy Smith and Anthony Stewart from their central defensive options and look to offer an avenue for their Irish midfield contingent in Dawson Devoy and Darragh Burns a chance to get minutes into their legs, which is currently not available given their head coach’s desire to play others ahead.

Embed from Getty Images

With the Christmas fixture list halfway through and six points collected from a possible six, it would have been the perfect present for Williamson to unwrap.

If his troops can make it 12 out of 12, his New Years’ wishes will have come true too!

Follow us on Twitter @ProstInt


About Author

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

Comments are closed.