By Martin Atherton
After a very positive week in the transfer market, MK Dons were somewhat brought down back to earth by a clinical Peterborough United side.
Goals from Sammie Szmodics (2) and former Dons loanee Jonson Clarke-Harris were enough to sweep away Russell Martin’s men, who in turn offered very little at the other end.
The Dons poor performance could largely be attributed to the lack of veteran defender Richard Keogh – currently in negotiations with an unknown Championship club – whose absence caused the Dons to lose almost all sense of composure and organisation.
As was far too often the case during the earlier stages of the season, the MK1 boys fell behind far too early on and left themselves with a mountain to climb – Clarke-Harris latching onto the end of a Joe Ward cross to poke past Andrew Fisher. 1-0.
Things went from bad to worse quickly as star man Andrew Surman – who had renewed his contract with the club midweek – limped off with an injury after just 12 minutes, the midfielder replaced by a striker in Joe Mason.
Ben Gladwin came close to levelling things up completely against the run of play, but the midfielder saw his free-kick deflect just wide of Christie Pym’s goal.
But Posh rightfully got the next goal, Siriki Dembele winning the ball in midfield and threading the ball through for Szmodics who comfortably rounded Fisher and fired into an empty net. 2-0.
With Peterborough defender Frankie Kent in the treatment room for stitches – and the home side subsequently down to ten men for a period of ten minutes – the Dons then managed to finally get themselves properly into the game for the first time, Poole rattling the crossbar in the best of a string of chances for the away side.
But they failed to find a way back into the game before the halfway mark and went in at the break two down, Posh re-finding their feet somewhat after Kent’s re-entrance. HT 2-0.
Martin’s side came out in the second half full of far more enthusiasm and took the game to their opponents. Joe Mason saw a good shot saved, whilst debutant Ethan Laird was unlucky to be fouled after having danced his way through the home defence.
But it really just wasn’t meant to be for the Dons who then went three down, Szmodics tapping home his third afternoon after some great work from Dembele down the left-hand side. 3-0.
From there, the game played out more like a training match than anything else – Russ rightfully keen to get minutes into the Dons’ younger prospects after the match was lost.
Lewis Johnson (16), Jack Davies (18), and new recruit Charlie Brown (21) were all introduced, though none were able to perform the heroics to bring the game back – not that they were ever expected to, of course.
The full-time whistle came in what was a disappointing afternoon for the Dons, but not one that should be allowed to mar what has been an excellent week for the Buckinghamshire outfit. FT 3-0.
Two great young players signed, Surman on a deal to the end of the season – and a whole lot of optimism back in the system. It’s not been too bad a week.
The key point to take from this for me is how important a settled back three is to our system. The whole team appeared to fall apart today with the changes at the back; let’s hope that it’s the only time this season that happens.
As I write this, news has just broken that a Championship club are in for Keogh – very confusing at his age, I must admit! Let’s hope Russ is able to find an able replacement for his position, whether that be within the current squad or bringing someone in externally.
As disappointing as it is to lose a player like Keogh, it makes perfect sense to let him go if there’s a fee offered to him. Our recruitment team are clearly on fire at the moment, and I fully trust that they can bring in a younger alternative who, in the long-term, can provide us far more value.
Onto Tuesday. Come on You Dons!