By Martin Atherton
MK Dons comfortably swept aside Wigan Athletic 2-0 at Stadium MK as captain Dean Lewington made his 800th career appearance.
A Ste Walker goal and a Scott Fraser penalty were enough for all three points against a Tics side who seldom looked up to the fight.
Amidst EFL-wide iFollow issues and BBC Three Counties commentary somewhat reminiscent of a certain Doctor Who villain, Cam Jerome was the first to come close to opening the scoring – the in-form striker, however, narrowly heading wide of Jones’ post.
Fraser was then next to try his luck, the Dons’ #10 parading forward into the opposition half before only just being stopped in his path by a Wigan defender. His side then began to move up the gears, seeing 71% of possession and – for once! – creating some shots to go with that.
Praise must go out to the wonderful Fraser who, quite rightfully so, was serenaded by the faithful on Twitter throughout the first half. Described in one case as ‘the best player in League One’, almost all of the Dons’ attacking play went through the Scot as he began to show exactly why so many clubs chased his signature over the summer.
Lasse Sørensen – back from a spell on the bench after a first-half horror show at Crewe – was next to edge himself further into the game, flaunting his exceptional long ball ability from a corner to see Richard Keogh narrowly head wide of the Latics’ goal. Jordan Houghton looked oh-so-composed at the base of midfield, his opposite numbers scarcely getting past him and into Fisher’s area.
Though, as has far too often been the case this season, the Dons’ dominance failed to produce a goal – both sides going in at the interval level thanks to some excellent last-ditch efforts from the away side. HT 0-0.
But Wigan’s dogged defending lasted just minutes into the second half, some excellent hold up play from Jerome leading to Matty Sorinola being pulled to the ground. Up stepped the superb Fraser who proceeded to coolly slot past Jones. 1-0!
And in no time at all one became two as Sorinola’s cross was smeared into the feet of second-time debutant Ste Walker, the Middlesbrough loanee stroking home to double his side’s advantage. 2-0!
With the wind in their sales, the Dons began to grow even further into the game and their confidence was evident to see for all on iFollow – many of whom still enjoying a Dalek-sounding Toby Lock, though perhaps now with more pleasure given the score line. The clinical edge that had been lacked on occasions over recent weeks suddenly came alive; Jerome’s experience vital to that whilst Keogh kept things tidy at the back.
The away side did manage to bring themselves back into the game and create a handful of chances, but the Dons’ organised defending and the odd vital tackle made sure nothing came of it. The gaffer could be heard screaming on the side for his team to retain their composure; Keogh and Lewington reciprocating that from the back line.
A late league debut was handed to 18-year-old John Freeman – celebrating his 19th next week with a trip to Sixfields – as the Dons strolled into the final five minutes, comfortably holding out their opposition and seeing out the win. FT 2-0!
An excellent victory against a side who have taken maximum points from both Doncaster and Portsmouth in recent weeks, and one from which to build on heading into Saturday’s derby.
Though I could wax lyrical about a lot of that team tonight, words simply cannot describe how good Jerome was. It’s not just goals that the former Norwich man brings to this side; his all-round play was nothing short of superb, holding the ball up for his teammates, bringing others into the game, and also nearly earning himself a few assists.
I tweeted on Sunday that, with either Jerome and Keogh in the team, we were very good at their respective end of the pitch expected goals-wise – and now with both of them in the side we’re getting the results to back up that data (tonight + Gills, for those wondering!).
Provided we can get through this difficult back-to-back, every Saturday and Tuesday period and out into the light of the New Year, I’m very confident we will rapidly climb the table and that good times are calling. Come on You Dons!
MK Dons: Fisher; Poole, O’Hora, Keogh, Lewington, Sorinola; Sørensen, Houghton, Fraser (Gladwin 71’); Walker (Mason 69’), Jerome.
Wigan Athletic: Jones, Tilt (Perry 69’), James, Long, Massey (Aasgaard 64’), Palmer, Merrie, Gardner, Pearce, Keane (Crankshaw 9’), Garner.