By Martin Atherton
Whilst continuing to play their expansive, attractive style of football, Russell Martin’s side further showed themselves as walkovers at the back in a narrow defeat to Oxford United.
Karl Robinson showed his maturity developed as manager since leaving Stadium MK in 2016, his outfit forcing the Dons into a nitty gritty game that hindered their progressive style.
The Dons started once again in a horrible fashion going behind early doors, Baily Cargill failing to deal with a cross as Matty Taylor was left to tap home for Karl Robinson’s men against his former employers. 1-0.But United’s lead was short lived as Martin’s side quickly found their groove again, some excellent work down the left-hand side from Daniel Harvie leading to Jerome tapping home into an empty net from yards out. 1-1.
The Dons then kicked on from their goal and immediately put their opposite numbers under pressure, Regan Poole given the freedom of Oxford down the right-hand side as his team looked to find themselves another opening.
Carlton Morris went close to giving his team the lead, but Harvie’s cross was this time met by an Oxford defender as Robinson’s men worked their way back into the game. HT 1-1.
The Dons started the second half the better, but it was the hosts who fashioned the first real opening – Ruffels’ shot being met comfortably by Lee Nicholls in the MK net.
But Robinson’s side did then re-find their lead, and it was the Dons once again being a victim of their own downfall – Nicholls caught in no man’s land after misjudging a cross from out wide; Sam Long there to fire past the away ‘keeper after being found unmarked in the box. 2-1.
Marcus McGuane soon after nearly made it three for the hosts after being left in acres of space through on goal – the former Barcelona and Arsenal player, however, sending his effort wide of Nicholls’ goal.
The Dons’ ‘keeper started to look shaky at the back as his side began to splutter, MK’s passing style for which they have become renowned this season being shut down by an effective Yellows midfield.
Agyei should have added another for Robinson’s side as the game drew to a close, the forward seemingly having an empty net to fire into – but delaying his effort allowed George Williams to make an excellent stop on the line.
However, substitute Shodipo did then wrap up the game for the home side almost immediately after, firing an excellent ranged effort past Nicholls to seemingly seal all three points. 3-1.
Ben Gladwin pulled one back in stoppage time after coming off the bench to create what should have been a tense finish, but the Dons struggled to build on the former Swindon man’s outstanding effort in the dying embers and slumped to yet another defeat. FT 3-2.
MK once again allowed themselves to fall short in a game in which they saw large periods of the ball. Credit to them, Oxford’s game plan was executed to perfection and perfectly nullified their opponents’ threats.
The Dons travel up to Blackpool on Saturday in another bottom-of-the-table clash as Martin looks to again pull his side out of the bottom four.
Oxford United: Eastwood; Clare, Moore, Atkinson (Long 54’), Ruffels; Sykes, Gorrin, Forde (Agyei 78’); Henry, Taylor (Shodipo 86’), McGuane.
MK Dons: Nicholls; Poole, Williams, Lewington, Cargill, Harvie (Gladwin 82’); Houghton, Kasumu (Thompson 67’, Fraser; Jerome (Mason 67’), Morris.
MOTM: Daniel Harvie.