By Martin Atherton
MK Dons fell to defeat at the hands of table-topping Hull City, their first in the league in just under a month.
Two Josh Magennis goals either side of a Ste Walker equaliser had given the away side the lead at the break, but James Scott’s header ensured all three points would be heading back up North.
Whilst the Dons had dominated the opening exchanges – Walker narrowly firing wide after some good work from Scott Fraser to pickpocket a Hull defender – it was the former Premier League outfit who took the lead against the run of play, Magennis neatly tapping home first time after some lackadaisical defending from Richard Keogh. 0-1.
But Walker did then get his goal immediately after, however, as the ‘Boro loanee neatly snatched home from a loose ball in the area to bring his side level on 11 minutes. 1-1.
Parity was short lived, though, and Keogh was once again at fault as the former Derby County man was turned far too easily by Magennis for the Northern Ireland international to fire home his second of the afternoon on 12 minutes. 1-2.
After a frantic opening, the game began to settle – however, neither side was able to fully stamp their superiority onto it. Wilks looked a constant threat down the right-hand side but was marshalled well by Lewington; at the other end, both Walker and Jerome continued to be a nuisance.
The Dons began to grow far more into the game after half-time with Scott Fraser – as always – at the heart of everything. Andrew Surman came on for his Dons bow, adding a level of solidity to midfield – though the former Bournemouth man was clearly lacking the match sharpness to fully influence the game.
But despite Martin’s side’s dominance in possession, they fall back to their old ways as Scott increased his side’s lead on 76 minutes, nodding home from a corner to ensure all three points would be going back to Yorkshire. 1-3.
Numerous late changes were made, but McCann’s men looked far more likely to find an extra goal than the Dons ever did to get one back – though, thankfully, the home side were spared their blushes. Play came to close with a difficult defeat for the Dons to stomach, their first in the league in five. 1-3.
Simple mistakes, yet again…
The Dons were, once again, victim of their own downfall this afternoon.
Errors from Keogh in both initial goals gave Magennis a brace far too early on, instilling confidence into McCann’s side that they could score from every opportunity. Martin’s outfit failed to switch on at the back despite seeing most of the ball in the opening exchanges, falling victim to the City counter twice.
Elsewhere, the Dons were wasteful in the final third, failing to capitalise on possessional dominance and make their superiority count. Whilst comfortable knocking the ball about in the centre of the park, their final ball lacked the culture to worry McCann’s men and put their opposition under pressure.
Sharp Ste Walker…
But on a more positive note, young loanee Ste Walker looked an absolute handful at times this afternoon.
Whilst the 20-year-old struggled in his first loan spell at MK1, he looks a completely different player this time round – and could be a key man moving forward.
His goal was well taken far beyond his years, anticipating the loose ball before coolly latching on and firing past Matt Ingram in the Tigers’ net. Elsewhere, the ‘Boro man looked energetic, keen, and linked up well with his attacking partner Jerome. He got in behind the City defence on numerous occasions, beating his opposite numbers for pace – though did ultimately fail to convert his chances into a second goal.
Walker does still more often than not lack that clinical, predatory edge in the final moment – but that will develop with time. One to look at sticking a bid in for in future…… Who knows?
Trusting the process…
Whilst this afternoon’s game may leave a somewhat bitter taste in the mouth, there is far much more to come from this MK Dons team over time.
Hull City are, quite comfortably, one of the best sides in this division. A year ago, as the Dons sat towards the bottom of League One and the Tigers were flying high in the Championship, almost two whole leagues separated the sides.
Twelve months on, the Dons have given their opponents a good game – but the difference in quality was certainly apparent. There is certainly no shame in Martin’s side losing to a team with a far superior budget; instead, they fought well, played openly and expansively, but conclusively fell to defeat owing to a handful of individual errors.
Certainly, by no means an afternoon to forget, but instead one from which the Dons can learn from and build on.