By Jon Harries
Six points better off than last week, although if we could make it a bit more comfortable that would be nice. Following MK Dons though, you know that’s “the MK Way”. Tuesday night saw the visit of Plymouth to Stadium MK in a 15th v 16th battle. It was a very dominant start by the home side with possession and intensity in buckets. Plymouth though had the first chance of the game when a back pass from Lewington was picked up by the lively Ennis, he squared it to Luke Jephcott who had his first attempt blocked on the line by Darling then nodded the rebound over the top of the bar.
Jerome then had a chance when played clean through on goal, but his first touch meant he had to backtrack but played it to Fraser who fired over. Then the breakthrough and a familiar combination. A 31 pass move that ended with a Sorinola cross finding the head of Jerome for his 15th goal of the season.
Fraser created himself another chance before the break, twisting and turning on the edge of the box and firing a shot straight at the keeper. The second half started, and Plymouth came out much better, with high pressing, intensity and aggression and it made for a great game. Plymouth equalised through a Connor Grant rocket and then you could see the fatigue kick in.
The treble substitution was the key move. Grigg forcing a good save from Cooper. The introduction of Gladwin and Harvie though proved pivotal with Gladwin providing the ball that was handled in the area in the 89th minute, let’s be honest though was Fraser ever going to miss from 12 yards. The “Scottish Wizard” has ice in his veins. Another late vital win, two on the bounce and confidence growing once again in the squad.
Burton continued their astonishing form under the second spell of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. When he joined at the end of January Burton were cut adrift of the rest of the league, leaking goals, not scoring many, an ageing squad, and it looked like preparing for L2 was the aim.
The Brewers though have come out fighting with just 2 defeats in 11 with impressive results against Hull, Peterborough, Charlton, and Gillingham respectively, all of a sudden they are out of the relegation zone and looking up.
They have won over 60% of their games under the two spells of the former Northampton and Queens Park Rangers manager. Sometimes everything happens for a reason. A point at Blackpool on Tuesday night was another positive. Hayden Carter and Luke Garbutt with the goals in a game where both sides were stronger in separate halves.
Looking at the Albion side closer Ben Garratt has occupied the number one spot since his arrival. As part of the restructure Burton have a much younger squad. Hayden Carter and Sean Clare have been brought into the defence for their mobility and forward thinking and Michael Bostwick provides the steel and experience. Joe Edwards has stepped up and Ryan Broom provides the balance in midfield they were lacking. Lucas Akins is “Mr Utility” and Mike Fondop is a physical presence up top.
Kane Hemmings is going through a purple patch like never before. The Scottish born striker has been reinvigorated under Hasselbaink. He scored his first ever EFL hattrick against Crewe last Saturday and is similar to Jerome in terms of physicality and pace. With 13 goals in 24 matches his record needs respect and his ability to bring others into play should not be overlooked. He is a useful weapon on set pieces whether it’s striking or being a nuisance.
Predicted Line Up
Sorinola – O’Hora – Darling – Lewington – Harvie
Thompson – Surman – Fraser – O’Riley
At the time of writing Ethan Laird and Josh McEachran were being assessed after injuries on Tuesday but my predicted replacements are more than capable of filling in. Louis Thompson is exceptional in regards of breaking up and starting moves. I expect Charlie Brown back on the bench after injury also.
I predict a 1-1 draw. If this preview was a few months back I’d have been more confident. Burton are a different animal now, determined, hard to beat and confident. The only advantage is the Pirelli Stadium pitch is reportedly better than Stadium MK. Do not take Burton lightly.
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