By Jon Harries
I’d like to start off this preview differently being the last game of the season. Firstly I’d like to congratulate Hull City and Peterborough United on their promotion to the Championship. Also commiserations to Saturday’s opponents Rochdale, Northampton Town, Swindon Town, and Bristol Rovers on their relegation to League Two. Finally I would like to welcome Cheltenham Town to League One, every other promotion spot and playoff spot in League Two is up for grabs on Saturday afternoon (including the title) it makes for an intriguing watch.
Last Saturday was the final away day for the Dons and a visit to Highbury to play Fleetwood. There was still a slim chance of the play offs for Martin’s men if we collected three points. Josh McEachran came in for Ethan Laird due to illness, with Matt O’Riley filling in at RWB. Fleetwood started brightly with a succession of corners and hit the post from one early on. The Dons rode out the pressure and were unlucky when Sorinola played through Scott Fraser one on one, Fraser put the ball in the net, but the flag went up in a very tight decision. O’Riley then had to leave the field due to injury, Lasse Sorenson replaced him before half time. Grigg then skewed an effort wide of the far post. Half time and all to play for.
Martin then made another substitution at the break, Kasumu booked earlier was on his final warning, Louis Thompson the replacement. Fleetwood took the lead on the hour mark after a throw in from the Dons led to an unfortunate slip by Thompson that allowed Fleetwood to counterattack with Barrie McKay slipping in Ged Garner to curl the ball brilliantly into the far corner, cue the Captain Pugwash music. Charlie Brown was then introduced to find an equaliser and he obliged with seven minutes to go, reacting quickest when Fraser played the ball across to Sorinola, his shot palmed into the path of Brown who poked the ball into the net. Full time and the correct result given the performance, MK not at their fluid best but a point earned. The play off dream extinguished but if after 8 games of the season when we were bottom to be even in consideration for the top six is a massive achievement.
Rochdale’s relegation was confirmed with a 2-1 home defeat to an out of sorts Doncaster. Taylor Richards with the brace to condemn Dale to the drop, Matt Done scoring a late consolation for the hosts. In fairness their form recently has been better with wins over Lincoln and Blackpool but conceding 78 goals in a season and only scoring 58 shows where the problems lie. Losing Ian Henderson and Callum Camps in the summer, it was always going to be a difficult season for manager Brian Barry-Murphy who isn’t afraid of playing the right way, with possession based football the main aim.
Jay Lynch has been between the sticks in preparation for next season, the experienced Paul McShane marshals the defence and Jimmy Keohane chips in with goals recently from LB. Aaron Morley, Kwadwo Baah (linked with a move to Manchester City) and Ollie Rathbone have enjoyed solid seasons and I expect there will be bids for them in the summer alongside strikers Jay Beesley and Stephen Humphrys, the latter linked with a move to Stadium MK in January from Southend before his subsequent move to Rochdale. It remains to be seen if this squad is kept together in League Two, or because of their reported financial issues they will be forced to sell key assets, I fully expect a promotion push for them next season.
Predicted Line Up
Laird – Lewington – Darling – Jules – Sorinola
Surman – Kasumu
O’Riley – Fraser
It remains to be seen if this will be the line-up. There has been no injury updates at the time of writing but if fit I would end the season strongly giving the team the belief going into pre-season that the Play offs is more than possible next season.
I predict a 4-0 home win. Rochdale will want to end the season on a high, but I fully expect a dominant home display with chances a plenty. Grigg x2, Darling and Brown with the goals.
I’d like to end this piece by thanking everyone connected with the MKDSA, my sponsors and most importantly everyone that has read my previews throughout this very different season. Also a massive shout out to Martin, Alfie, and Reece for their reports post-match throughout the season. I hope to see you all from the 7th of August.
Stay safe, enjoy your summer and COYD!!
EDITOR – Many thanks to Jon for his superb previews and analysis on games throughout the season. His knowledge on the EFL is remarkable and we really appreciate having him onboard as part of our writing team, and it was this level of reporting that encouraged Charles Rayner Limited to have his previews sponsored by them this season, and for that we are very grateful. We also echo his comments regarding Martin, Alfie & Reece who have provided us with some superb match reports. Finally many thanks to Lee Scriven and the club for allowing us access to photos taken during the game, they’ve come up with some excellent photos all season for us to use.
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