By Martin Atherton
MK Dons were comfortably seen off 2-0 at Gresty Road this afternoon despite yet again seeing the lion’s share of possession.
Mikael Mandron and Oliver Finney both came up trumps for the hosts who, while certainly not clinical in the box nor dominated the game possession wise, perfectly executed their game plan and walked away with those all-important three points.
In stark contrast Martin’s outfit were disjointed, anxious, and seemingly completely unprepared to deal with the threats that their opposite numbers would pose. With very little pattern to their play, nor any real idea on how to progress through the thirds other than making as many sideways and backwards passes as possible, questions must be asked of the direction in which this MK Dons side are travelling.
The visitors started the better – Callum Brittain and Lasse Sørensen combing well to create to first opening of the game – but it was the hosts that far too easily broke the deadlock on 13 minutes, Mandron glancing a header past Lee Nicholls after a neat Ryan Wintle cross from the right.
One then became two very shortly after as the Dons’ afternoon quickly began to hit rock bottom, Finney making up for a glaring miss just minutes before by firing an Owen Dale cross into the top corner on the volley.
Lethargic would then be the word to describe the rest of the Dons’ first half performance, the men from MK1 failing to create any real chances nor leaving any sort of impact on the game. Carlton Morris became increasingly anonymous up front whilst Warren O’Hora struggled to keep hold of Charlie Kirk, the Alex academy graduate constantly finding himself in acres of space down the left-hand side to create chances for the hosts.
Sørensen, who had looked like a rabbit in headlights for the whole of the first half, was pulled for Scott Fraser by Martin at the end of the first 45, the Dons boss rightfully entering panic mode and trying to slow the game down before Crewe began to embarrass his side.
Fraser’s introduction at the interval did reassure his side somewhat as Joe Mason fashioned his first real chance, seeing an effort put behind after finding a way through the hosts’ back line. Young Matty Sorinola then began to make more advances down the left-hand side, linking well with Ben Gladwin to find pockets of space, but these came to nothing and the visitors became ever more frustrated as the clock ticked on.
The Dons began to finally run out of steam and Lee Nicholls was forced into an excellent save to deny Finney a second, Crewe breaking the offside trap with Lewington seemingly fast asleep in the centre circle. Mandron then had the ball in the net once again but was deemed to have reached the ball from an offside position.
Richard Keogh was introduced for his debut in the dying minutes as MK changed formation to find a way back into the tie, but little could be done as they fell to a third league game without victory leaving them third bottom in the table.
Though there will be calls to ‘trust the process’, this simply was not good enough from an MK Dons side looking desperate just three games in. Dominating possession is all good and well when you have a striker capable of regularly finding the net, but neither Morris, Mason nor Nombe look up to the task in the opposition penalty area. There is a massive, gaping Rhys Healey-shaped hole in this side with no replacement having been brought in.
Wholesale changes will be required to avoid embarrassment next weekend as Martin’s side face league leaders Ipswich Town at Stadium MK.