By Jon Harries
How many emotions can one football fan go through in ninety minutes. Well I don’t know about you, but I went through several. Going into the game on Saturday I was confident of a comfortable win against Northampton but 79 seconds into the game that went out of the window. Fraser Horsfall volleying in a free kick from a Mark Marshall assist. Another early goal conceded, and it took Martin’s men a good 15 minutes to get back into the game, and after a bit of pinball following an O’Riley free kick the ball was played back in and cleared as far as Surman who struck an absolute Thunder B*****d into the top corner. Northampton should have been ahead when Hoskins missed an open goal after a Fisher mistake and that was punished before half time when Will Grigg was played in and calmly finished for his first goal since his return on loan from Sunderland. Ignition started. 2- 1 up at HT. Now time to push on, or so we thought.
49 seconds into the half substitute and ex Don Ryan Watson was given the freedom of Stadium MK and fired in the equaliser. In fairness the pressing all game was impressive by Northampton and with 12 minutes left they took the lead for the second time. Peter Kioso with the flicked header from another Marshall free kick. The shock was on the cards, by now though our front line was refreshed with Jerome and Brown on the pitch and indeed it was Jerome who equalised lashing in after seeing off the defender, then with 2 minutes of the 90 left a quick free kick was played to Daniel Harvie who put in a peach of a cross and Brown gambled at the near post for his first professional goal, full time and breathe. Sometimes you win ugly and don’t deserve anything and in truth the result is harsh on a Cobblers side who on the day were more than a match and should stay up if they match those performance levels.
Tuesday night sees a trip to Shrewsbury for the Dons. Currently 17th in the table, their form, and results since the appointment of Steve Cotterill before Christmas they have improved immensely, with the former manager Sam Ricketts sacked after a 2-2 draw at Stadium MK. Standout results include beating all of the current top 4 (Lincoln, Peterborough, Hull, and Doncaster) and impressive results against Sunderland, Accrington, Charlton, and Oxford. They continued their quietly impressive form with a hard earned point away at Accrington at the weekend, Seamus Conneely scoring just after half time before Shaun Whalley equalised with ten minutes to go to secure a point for Salop. The majority of this form has actually been done without Cotterill being present, having contracted Covid 19 and a few weeks in hospital there was some positive news this week when he was allowed to go home to continue his recovery. Everyone at the MKDSA and all connected with MK Dons wish Steve a very safe and speedy recovery and hopefully we will see him on the bench before the end of the season.
Former Don and current Shrewsbury assistant manager Aaron Wilbraham will be on the opposition bench. Currently only second to Izale McLeod in the all-time goal scoring charts (57), he spent 6 seasons at Stadium MK and still has legendary status amongst the Dons fans, all that though will be forgotten for a couple of hours on Tuesday night. Matija Sarkic is their number 1 goalkeeper currently playing behind a familiar figure of Ethan Ebanks Landell. Ro Shaun Williams is his current defensive partner and with Aaron Pierre currently out, Donald Love has got a second chance in the team. The midfield three of Josh Vela, Sean Goss, and Oliver Norburn have grit and creativity in abundance with the experienced Dave Edwards a very capable option off the bench. Whalley is a nuisance up top alongside Curtis Main who was signed in January after their attempts to sign Grigg on loan were scuppered on Deadline Day after Grigg’s desire to return to MK1. The Shrewsbury owner released a statement saying all the paperwork was in place and agreed but one teams loss is another teams gain.
In January you are looking for players to make an impact and improve your squad. Proof is in the pudding with Harry Darling, Matt O’Riley and Zak Jules all being consistent performers since joining MK Dons, for Shrewsbury look no further than Harry Chapman. The Blackburn loanee has certainly given Salop a different dimension with 4 goals in 6 from the right hand side. The 23 year old is able to ghost into space and has a venomous shot on him. This is what Shrewsbury fans have been crying out for as beforehand it could be argued there was no spark to a defensively sound side. It’s a shame fans can’t be present as it sounds like he’s their version of Fraser able to create or make something happen when the team need it. Definitely one to watch and certainly Lewington will have to be on top of his game to prevent anything untoward happening.
Predicted Line Up
O’Hora – Darling – Lewington
Laird – Surman – Gladwin – Fraser – Jules
Grigg – Jerome
The back three / five picks itself although we will not want a repeat of Saturday’s performance, Gladwin will provide different creativity with his passing range and Jerome gives a physical presence up top that neither Mason or Grigg can provide. Physicality is certainly going to be what I expect from this game and concentration from set pieces is going to be key to any success.
I am predicting a narrow 1-0 away win. Shrewsbury are better than their current position suggests, and this won’t be easy. I feel though player for player we have a stronger squad currently and are in better form. Patience and composure will be key IMO, but in this sort of form there is no reason to fear anyone.
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