By Martin Atherton

MK Dons fell to a frustrating 2-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley on Saturday, failing to build on Wednesday’s exceptional performance against Charlton. 

Carlton Morris had levelled from Dion Charles’ early opener shortly after the break, but the Stanley man later doubled his tally and condemned the Dons to defeat after yet more weak defending from the Buckinghamshire side. 

As is far too often the case, the Dons started the poorer and were dominated in the early exchanges. A poor long ball from Fisher eventually lead to a home side corner within thirty seconds, though Keogh remained on hand to deal with the danger. 

Despite his heroics, however, the Dons were eventually punished for their slow start. After Gladwin had switched off, Charles was on hand to neatly fire home from Chelsea loanee Tariq Uwakwe’s cross as Martin’s side conceded yet again within the opening 15 minutes of a game. 1-0

But Stanley’s early dominance was short-lived, and the Dons eventually grew into the game. Jerome should have levelled things up, finding himself clear on goal after a long ball up from the back, but MK’s top-scorer aimed his effort directly at the Stanley ‘keeper. 

Morris was next to come close, sending an effort narrowly past the post, before Kasumu picked up his customary booking for the game – a seventh of the season in the league. At the other end, Uwakwe sent a free kick wide as the hosts pushed for a second before the break. HT 1-0

But immediately after the restart, the Dons were rewarded for their dominance – and it came in the form of an excellent Morris solo effort. Picking the ball up on the halfway line, the Norwich City loanee glided through both Stanley’s midfield and defence before sending an unstoppable effort past Savin in the Reds net. An early Goal of the Season contender, and his side back on level terms. 1-1 – get in! 

The Dons then pushed further in search of a winner, Jerome narrowly failing to connect with a Gladwin cross to head into an empty net. Up the other end, Uwakwe once again came close for the hosts, narrowly firing wide of the mark and into the empty home end. 

But despite the Dons looking like it would be them who would next go ahead, it was Stanley who took the lead against the run of play – a cross from out wide getting the most fortunate of double touches off of Colby Bishop and falling into the path of Charles who tapped into an empty net. 2-1

The second goal appeared to demoralise a Dons side who, despite the introductions of Poole, Harvie and Sørensen, began to flag and look far from the outfit that took apart Charlton on Wednesday night. Fraser went close, twisting and turning past two home defenders to make space for a shot, but sent his effort directly at Savin with his weaker foot. 

Ste Walker, not long introduced himself late on, had a chance to earn an equaliser in the dying moments, but it wasn’t to be for the Dons as the ‘Boro loanee’s header flew well above the post. FT 2-1. 

Some perspective is probably needed over this result, the Dons having come up against a side currently sitting second in the league’s form table.

Stanley have far outperformed expectations this season and rightfully now sit just outside of the play-offs. Last season, despite results not always being the best, they stuck with Coleman knowing full well that he had a clear plan and long-term vision behind the team. They played some good stuff, but perhaps needed a bit more time to gel before becoming the team they are today. Sound familiar? 

Overall, it has been a good week for Martin’s side despite two tough away fixtures in four days. I, like many others, would have taken a point from each – we’ve surpassed that with three, though the defeat should of course still leave a bitter taste in the mouth. 

Next Saturday’s fixture against Burton – the first in the league at home after fans’ returns! – seems an excellent opportunity to get back on track and push further towards the top half of the table. Let’s get behind the boys. 

Come on You Dons!

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