By Jon Harries
Tuesday night saw Cheltenham visit Stadium MK in what was the appetiser before the main event on Saturday. Three changes were made to the side, Kesler-Hayden, Smith, and Corbeanu in for Harvie, McEachran, and Twine. Cheltenham were happy to frustrate the Dons in the early stages, keeping possession between the back 5. Smith and Coventry were keeping things simple in midfield, and it wasn’t long before we took the lead.
A highly debated corner was played in by Smith and cleared as far as Darling who nodded it back to Kesler. He twisted and turned playing it back to Smith who floated the ball into the box for Troy Parrott to finally break his goal scoring drought, planting a header into the bottom corner. Jubilation on and off the pitch for a player that fully deserved that for his last 6 weeks on the pitch.
The lead was soon doubled, Harry Darling providing a ball on a plate for Mo Eisa to drill home one on one. Hitting form when it matters. Warren O’Hora then had a fantastic chance playing a clever one two with Corbeanu but he fired straight at the goalkeeper. Cheltenham then forced a save from Cumming at the near post after Watson was dispossessed on the touchline. So far so good at half time.
The second half saw Cheltenham coming out and being braver in possession, but the Dons were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure in front of them. Cumming was forced into another save, making himself big to block a shot an hour into the game.
The Dons went up the other end with 15 minutes to play, Corbeanu now playing RWB driving forward and finding Parrott who took a touch before firing into the net. It’s amazing what a goal will do for your confidence and hopefully this is the beginning of something very good from the Spurs loanee. Will Boyle pulled a goal back late on for Cheltenham and probably deserved given their attitude in the game. Full time, job done, now all eyes on Saturday.
Wigan Athletic have been up and around the top all season and no wonder with the squad at their disposal. Last year was a salvage job avoiding relegation and getting new investment in January 2021 was exactly what was needed. This season Leam Richardson has done a great job in his first management post and with games in hand over us and Rotherham, the L1 title is still a possibility. With 4 wins, a draw, and a solitary defeat last time out at home to Sunderland confidence is high but don’t forget the Dons have won their last 5 League 1 games.
Ben Amos and Jamie Jones are two very capable keepers, Jack Whatmough has impressed at CB and Max Power at RB has been a real find in the attacking sense. Tom Naylor and Graeme Shinnie are brilliant DM options allowing Gwion Edwards and the suspended James McLean to provide the ammunition for a formidable strike force that includes Will Keane, Josh Magennis and Charlie Wyke. The striker that always scores against MK Dons won’t be present on Saturday after suffering a cardiac arrest at the training ground and everyone at the Dons wishes Charlie a speedy recovery and hopes he’s back stronger next season. It was the actions of Richardson and their head of medical staff who saved Fabrice Muamba’s life at White Hart Lane several years ago after he collapsed on the pitch.
The Man in Focus is someone I would love at the Dons. Callum Lang had successful loan spells at both Oldham and Rochdale and has been given his chance under Richardson. Played predominantly on the right-hand side, the youth academy product has scored 12 goals and assisted 6 times already this season. Using his pace and trickery but also able to exploit space afforded to him, he is a dangerous opponent that will have to be always watched.
Predicted Line Up
Kesler – O’Hora – Darling – Lewington – Harvie
Coventry – Kasumu
Parrott – Eisa – Twine
With no news on Watson at the time of writing, Harvie coming straight back in makes sense. Kasumu performances recently have been phenomenal, the impact he made against Rotherham backs that up. The front three takes care of itself. Psychologically a win on Saturday could be huge in both camps and the momentum is with the home side. The pressure for me is on the away side, therefore I’m going for a narrow 1-0 win. Big Time Mo with the goal. Automatic promotion is within our grasp. Time to make a statement.