By Martin Atherton

MK Dons fell to yet another disappointing defeat at the hands of a struggling Blackpool side, registering just one shot on target despite seeing 61% of possession.

One major change to the side came in the form of Lee Nicholls dropping to the bench, Andrew Fisher coming in to make his debut for the club. Cameron Jerome was also rested in favour of Joe Mason – the veteran having completed just shy of 140 minutes over the previous seven days.

The sides played out a lethargic first half with opportunities far and few between, the Dons as always controlling possession but failing to make it count. The weather may have hindered proceedings at Bloomfield Road, but a lack of quality in certain areas of the pitch was evident to see for both teams.

Former Mansfield man CJ Hamilton – out to avenge after being part of the Stags side pipped to promotion in May 2019 – created the first real chance, but his cross took a deflection off of David Kasumu before being comfortably gathered by debutant Fisher.

Kasumu then shortly after found himself in trouble with the referee (who would have expected that?), picking up a fifth booking in seven games to rule himself out of Tuesday’s fixture after a rash challenge on Liverpool loanee Ben Woodburn.

Much of the rest of the first period was played out without much of note happening, the Dons seeing much of the ball but failing to trouble their hosts in the final third owing to a lifeless Mason. Carlton Morris also struggled to get himself into the game, the Canaries loanee looking a shadow of himself during performances in recent weeks. HT 0-0.

Ben Gladwin was then introduced shortly after the interval to provide some form of spark to Martin’s men, the former Swindon man looking to build on his excellent finish in the midweek tie at Oxford United. Ste Walker and Jerome were then also brought on shortly after, Martin looking to capitalise on the Dons’ high level of possession.

But, as the story seems to go far too often, the Dons’ dominance failing to yield dividends came back to bite them – this time Sully Kaikai sticking the Seasiders ahead with a swift finish after Hamilton had cut the ball back for him. Another disappointing goal to concede, making that away win seem ever more elusive. 1-0.

Heads then once again fell immediately after conceding, Martin’s men never looking like bringing the tie back into contest and far too content to sit and play out the remaining minutes.

Instead it was the hosts who pushed to further punish their opposition, Hamilton continuing to cause havoc down the right-hand side. Dan Kemp went close to doubling the Tangerines’ advantage were it not for an excellent save from Fisher – a fair debut from the 22-year-old and a shining light in the darkness of an overall extremely poor team performance.

Gladwin had one final chance to earn a point for his side in the dying embers with a free kick on the edge of the box, but the midfielder fluffed his lines and sent the effort into the stands. FT 1-0.

Whilst there will be calls to ‘trust the process’, the Dons now find themselves nearly a fifth of the way through the season with just one win to their name. The positivity of that Gills win now seems a very distant memory; an inadequate performance at Oxford coupled with today’s dismal showing served up a harsh reminder as to just how poor MK’s start to the season has been.

Will things turn round? Hopefully, but the situation is beginning to look rather bleak. A huge week now for Russell Martin and Luke Williams, the Dons facing a Wigan outfit on Tuesday currently far exceeding expectations before then taking on AFC in the derby on Saturday. 

Blackpool: Maxwell; Turton, Ekpiteta, Ballard, Mitchell; Williams, Woodburn (Sarkic 69’), Ward; Kaikai (Kemp 80’), Yates (Madine 87’), Hamilton.

MK Dons: Fisher; Poole, Williams, Keogh, Lewington, Harvie; Kasumu, Thompson (Gladwin ’54), Fraser; Mason (Jerome 62’), Morris (Walker 62’).

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