By Jon Harries
So here we go. 46 games of blood, sweat and tears now extends our season to two, hopefully 3 games. Most of the Dons fanbase would have ripped your arm off after that game at Premier League Bournemouth. What Liam Manning has done cannot be underestimated with the calmness and meticulous detail he’s got into the second youngest squad in L1. Different players have stepped up throughout the season, none more so than Scott Twine on Saturday.
Needing a win at play off chasing Plymouth, who hadn’t conceded a goal at home since February the stakes were high. Twine smacked a free kick against the crossbar then Luke Jephcott wasted two glorious opportunities to open the scoring. Twine would have a second opportunity from a free kick which he buried to send the Dons temporarily second with Rotherham only drawing at Gillingham at the time. Twine then doubled the lead, dancing through the Pilgrims defence before smashing into the far corner, Harry Darling then scored his 10th goal from CB, making him the highest scoring defender in a single season for MK Dons. Former Don Jordan Houghton was then sent off for a second yellow card just before HT to end an enjoyable but eventful first half.
The second half was all about Twine, smartly finishing a Kasumu cross, then curling a delicious ball into the goal becoming the second person after Will Grigg to score 4 goals in a game. Simply sensational numbers of 33 goal contributions in 44 games, only Mo Salah and Andreiss Weimann can better that this season. Unfortunately Rotherham got the points needed for automatic promotion, whilst Wycombe wandered into the playoffs with a narrow 2-1 win away at Burton to setup a Buckinghamshire Derby in the semi-finals of the Play offs. The other tie sees heavyweights Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday go head-to-head, a David v Goliath tie at Wembley awaits.
1,800 Dons fans are making the small pilgrimage to Adams Park no doubt “Loud and Proud” hoping to take an advantage back to Milton Keynes on Sunday. Having won 3 times against them (yes, I’ve included the PJT win 😂) this season. The play offs are a different animal though. Form goes out of the window at this stage of the season. Gareth Ainsworth has done the minimum required after a last day relegation from the Championship and they still harbour hopes of returning at the first time of asking. David Stockdale was one of many smart pickups to improve the squad. Joe Jacobsen loves a set piece goal, be it a free kick or corner and Jack Grimmer on the other side has a dangerous cross on him. Anthony Stewart has been there and done it, and in midfield Jordan Obita has found his goalscoring groove. Josh Scowen and Lewis Wing have added flair and grit and we will be hoping Tequila doesn’t strike if David Wheeler plays well. Up front Sam Vokes and Brandon Hanlan have the physicality and pace to trouble any defence.
Gareth McCleary is the Man in Focus. He was the bright spark in a otherwise limp Wanderers performance in our most recent meeting, his movement causing issues with our defence and his ability to find pockets of space to either score or assist has been a key asset this season. Keeping him relatively quiet will not be easy and having played higher up in the pyramid, this wiley veteran will know every trick in the book.
Predicted Line Up
Kesler – O’Hora – Darling – Lewington – Harvie
Kasumu – McEachran – Coventry
Twine – Parrott.
This line-up was harder to predict. On the one hand that side against Plymouth played exceptionally. Freedom, purpose and ruthless, on the other Theo Corbeanu absolutely destroyed Jacobsen at Adams Park that maybe he could do the same. You can’t drop Kasumu though and his energy could be vital in the midfield battle. I’m predicting another narrow 1-0 away win. Parrott with the goal. This is going to come down to fine margins in a hostile atmosphere and we’ve shown we can battle with the best in L1. Time to finish what we started.