By Martin Atherton
The Dons claimed their first away in in 14 months after Martin’s side fought back from 1-0 down to win at the Stadium of Light.
Goals from Jerome and Fraser were enough in a 2-1 victory, Martin’s side seeing the lesser of possession for the first time this season.
The opening minutes proved hectic to say the least, both sides seeing an array of close chances flash wide. Will Grigg came closest, charging down O’Hora and winning possession – but ultimately failing to find a red and white shirt with his final ball.
But, in typically MK fashion, their hosts then did find the net early on – Max Power taking advantage of some poor defending to fire home from just outside the box. 1-0.
Not all was lost, however, as Martin’s side quickly found themselves back in the game – Jerome connecting with a pin-point Gladwin cross to send an unstoppable header past Remi Matthews in the Sunderland net. 1-1.
The goal proved enough to see the boys from MK1 find and lay out their expansive, passing style – Walker nearly giving his side the advantage after some great play from Jerome; Matthews, however, fast off of his line to close down the ‘Boro loanee. HT 1-1.
Immediately after the interval, though, the Dons found that elusive goal to put them in front – Fraser doing so well to win a clear penalty, before neatly dispatching from the spot. 1-2!
It was then backs to the wall as the thought of Dons’ first away win in 14 months became apparent. The trio of Keogh, O’Hora, and Lewington all stepped up, marshalling the midfield, and pushing the forwards to press.
Chasing down a loose ball, midfielder Thompson pulled up with what seemed a nasty hamstring injury. Luke O’Nien, in the spirit of the game, put the ball out of play; this greeted by angry, expletive-filled shouts by Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson – but his outbursts only seemed to spur the Dons on, Martin’s side digging ever deeper for that win.
Former Don Grigg had the chance to level things late on, but Sunderland’s £4m man failed to tap into an empty net from a yard out – how on earth, we’ll never know. Fisher was forced into one late outstanding save, keeping things level moving into five minutes of added time.
Eventually, after what felt like an age, referee Stephen Martin blew his whistle for the final time – this met by incredible scenes on the touchline as the gaffer celebrated his first league away win in charge. FT 1-2! GET IN!
The Dons showed a far different approach to their game today, sitting back and relying on the attacking talents of Fraser and Jerome to secure the three points. Whilst it wasn’t always comfortable, and it certainly wasn’t pretty, it got the job done, and that’s what mattered.
Keogh proved to be an excellent last line of defence to thwart the Black Cats’ many attacks; Fisher in the net, when required, was nothing short of outstanding. Gladwin, sitting in at left wing-back, proved to be a constant menace down the Dons’ right-hand side.
But it wasn’t just individual performances that made this happen; it was a collective team effort. The desire, drive, and comradery were all there to see. It was simply sublime, and I cannot put into words just how happy I am for Russ after the last 14 months.
So, after fourteen months of misery on the road, the voodoo is finally broken – but it doesn’t stop there. Another tough game comes in the form of Hull at home on Saturday, Martin’s side looking to build on today’s success and climb further up the table. It won’t be easy, but they will certainly go into it full of confidence.
Come on You Dons!