By Fan of the Year – Jon Harries
Last Saturday saw the Dons looking to end October on a positive note away at bogey side Crewe Alexandra. After winning the September Manager of the Month, Liam Manning had endured quite a tough month on the pitch with defeats against Doncaster, Shrewsbury, and Rotherham respectively in League 1, so it was important not to end the month negatively.
Crewe had the first chance of the game, Rio Adebisi hitting the post but within minutes the Dons took the lead. A sweeping move involving Twine, O’Riley and Kioso eventually ended with the latter firing the ball across for the easiest tap in for Mo Eisa, his first goal since August. Crewe didn’t really get anything going after that and halftime came with the bottom side struggling.
Whatever Artell said at halftime worked with the Alex coming out with more spirit and fight and equalised after good play down the left found former Don Chris Long at the back post who converted from a tight angle. The away side had to see this pressure out and in fairness we did, the substitutions of Boateng and Watters was key.
Firstly, Matt O’Riley calmly slotted the ball away after some sustained pressure, then Kasumu won the ball back high up feeding Boateng who then played in Kioso who was accredited with the goal after initially going down as a Daniels Own Goal. Watters then put the icing on cake, breaking the offside trap after a ball over the top from Kioso and calmly slotting away for his second goal in four days.
Full Time and the away end was bouncing. Our second 4-1 away win of the season and a fantastic atmosphere all day. One of the best away days that will live long in the memory for everyone that was there.
The result kept the Dons at the top of the chasing pack for the play offs ahead of 3 home games in a row.
The FA Cup is such a special tournament that holds a special place in the calendar. The incentive of facing possible Premier League opposition in two games time is not to be sniffed at financially. First hurdle though is a local affair against League 2 strugglers Stevenage. Former Dons striker (and GK) Alex Revell took charge of Boro last season and after a slow start had Stevenage in promotion form come the end of the season.
The start of this season started with 3 straight wins and cause for optimism in the Stevenage fanbase, results recently though particularly away from home have been very bad with no wins or goals in their last 4 away from the Lamex.
Michael Smith was signed last week to redeem the goalkeeping issue with on loan keeper Joseph Anang making some costly mistakes. Scott Cuthbert is a very experienced defender alongside full back Ben Coker who possess a long throw in his armoury. Luther Wildin plays on the other side and is very attack minded. Bruno Andrade clinched promotion for Lincoln at Stadium MK in the 2018/19 season and Jake Taylor signed from Exeter and is a very good number 10. Up top Jamie Reid was prolific for Torquay in the National League and Luke Norris is the experienced head.
Elliott List is the next League 2 star IMHO. The 24-year-old has found a home in Stevenage and is a player I’ve always rated. He has similar attributes to Sam Nombe (now at Exeter) with his work rate, direct running, and pace. 5 goals in 14 games (13 starts) is very good going for this time of the season with a particular highlight being his superb individual goal against Hartlepool where he picked the ball up from a goal kick, beat three defenders and slotted past the GK. Much of the attacking play is set around him playing on the shoulder of the last defender, generally being a nuisance. I expect him to give Baldwin some serious questions on Saturday
Watson – O’Hora – Baldwin – Jules – Ilunga
Boateng – O’Riley – Robson (if fit)
Watters – Parrott
EDITOR – Jon picked his team selections ahead of the news from Liam Manning on Friday morning that 2 players had tested postive for Covid 19 and several others were having to self isolate.
Similar line-up to the game against Aston Villa with the fringe players getting a run out. Watters and Parrott worked well in that game, and both have scored recently. At the time of writing Ethan Robson was not confirmed fit. This was off the timescale that Liam Manning gave in one of his pre-match press conferences a few weeks ago so it could be Kasumu instead. Also, wouldn’t surprise me if Charlie Brown maybe got a start.
I’m going to predict a 3-1 home win, Watters x 2 and Parrott with the goals. Stevenage though have a habit of Cup upsets, so this won’t be a walkover. Just ask Newcastle who lost 3-1 in 2011 to Stevenage, and in case anyone is interested if we get to R3 I wouldn’t mind Everton H or A or even a visit to South Wales 😜
For those that like to look at the historical stats, we have played Stevenage a total of 14 times since 2010 with a record of Won 6, Drawn 3, Lost 5, GF 23 & GA 17.
One of those defeats was our only ever meeting in the FA Cup back in 2010, the first game at Stevenage was a 0-0 draw and the resulting replay at SMK ended in a 1-1 draw. Lewis Guy put the Dons ahead in the 49th minute and it all looked done and dusted until deep into injury time Darius Charles levelled. The resulting extra time could not separate the two teams. Peter Leven had the chance to win it for the Dons in the penalty shoot-out but saw his shot saved, and it took until the 14th spot kick when Mathias Doumbe blazed the ball over the bar to give Boro victory.
The last league fixture between the two sides was a League 2 clash in 2019 at SMK where again it finished all square at 1-1, Chuks Aneke rescuing a point for the Dons 7 minutes from time after Ilias Chair had put Boro in front, the result moving the Dons up to third place in the table.
That’s it …have a good weekend.