By Martin Atherton
Despite an almost totally dominant performant for 80 minutes, Russell Martin’s men fell to a 1-0 defeat against a strong Coventry City side in their first competitive outing since March.
The Dons went for a mixture of youth and experience in their team selection, keeping the vast majority of regular players in whilst also finding room for young duo Matty Sorinola and John Freeman – the latter of which reported to have now signed a professional contract. There was also a place in the starting XI for new loanee Lasse Sørensen having joined on loan from Stoke City yesterday.
Martin’s side found themselves immediately on the front foot with Carlton Morris rising to meet a Callum Brittain cross, but the Norwich loanee squandered the opportunity by putting his effort straight at Marko Marosi in the City net. Though the Dons would continue to dominate opening proceedings, it was Callum O’Hare who fashioned the next real chance – but the former Aston Villa man was deemed offside by assistant referee Darren Blunde.
MK then upped their pressing, pushing the opposition further into their own half and forcing errors at the back. This nearly paid off with Morris dispossessing Marosi on the edge of his own box, but Sam Nombe failed to capitalise – instead, sticking his effort wide of the post.
The away side then made their first proper venture forward on the 18-minute mark, Ryan Giles breaking into the penalty area with John Freeman nowhere to be seen – but Brittain tracked back well to put the ball out of play. Giles then replicated the exact same move just minutes later; Baily Cargill was there to meet the Wolves loanee and put his cross out of play, however.
It was young Matty Sorinola that finally made a breakthrough prior to the half hour mark, latching onto an excellent Jordan Houghton through-ball before being hacked down by Declan Drysdale – a straight red for the Coventry man and a penalty for the home side. Morris, however, failed to convert, sticking his initial effort straight at Marosi before then putting the rebound into row Z.The Dons continued to run the show until the interval, but it was Giles that once again fashioned the best opportunity of the period – this time sticking an effort wide of the post after leaving Freeman for dead. HT 0-0.
More of the same continued into the second half with the home side dominating proceedings, but these became fewer and further between as six months without competitive football seemingly caught up with both sides.
Immediately after the restart the Dons once again found themselves with an excellent opportunity – this seemingly fell too early for Sorinola, however, whose touch got away from him at the crucial moment. Minutes later Coventry played a quick free-kick up the other end to beat Brittain, but Nicholls comfortably gathered former Don Kyle McFadzean’s weak effort.
Nombe then saw a one-on-one effort saved by Marosi while Sorinola beat the City defence to surely fire home – but an excellent last-ditch tackle by Josh Pask denied the Dons’ academy graduate a first professional goal. Sorinola, just 19, began to cause havoc down the left in what proved to be an excellent showing on just his fourth career outing.
But despite all of the Dons’ domination, it was the away side who finally broke the deadlock on 82 minutes. Tyler Walker – who Russell Martin had chased all summer before signing for the Sky Blues – aptly fired home after a mix up in the box to give his side the lead, one from which Martin’s side would not recover. From then on, the hosts look dead and buried and failed to create anything – bar a wayward shot by Kasumu into the top of the Cowshed. FT 0-1.
In retrospect it was frustrating to lose in such a manner – but this was still a very, very positive showing by the Dons. With plenty of first-teamers unavailable and many of that side having never played together in a professional setting, there were certainly many positives to take. But don’t get complacent – we need to be far better than that in front of goal to stay up this season.
A special mention to Matty Sorinola, the academy graduate putting in a sensational display on his first professional appearance outside of the EFL Trophy. Young Sørensen also did a fantastic job of running things from central midfield – I have never seen a player ping the ball around like that. Both Kasumu and Lewington performed magnificently in managing that transition between defence and midfield, something I am sure will be crucial this season.