The Dons kept their PJT hopes alive in not the most convincing fashion against the West Ham kids at Stadium MK tonight despite fielding what has to be said as a fairly strong team and bench. The win puts them in with a chance of qualifying with just an away game versus bottom placed Walsall to come.
Cumming surprisingly took the keepers jersey with last round keeper Franco on bench warming duties and most notably in came Lewie and Grant, with Dennis, Holland and Burns all returning to the bench.
The first half was nothing much to write about with both teams having spells of possession and even in the early minutes you felt it was heading to penalties with little quality in the final thirds of the pitch, our best chance coming from Grant, but his effort was off target, for West Ham a carved opening down the left but the cross eluded everyone and ended up as a throw for the Dons.
The second half pretty much started as the first finished with both having decent possession and if anything, the West Ham youngsters were taking it to the Dons, by the way I must mention the West Ham lowest shirt number was 46, hopefully that shows you the level of the task in front of Manning’s men.
On 55 minutes the game changed as Matt Dennis entered the field of play and he looked a class above anything we had seen in almost an hour, and it took him just 8 minutes to break the deadlock and give a subdued SMK crowd of less than 1,000 something to shout about.
Bradley (I’m going to get red carded sooner or later) Johnson delivered a cross in for Matt Dennis to get slightly in front of his man to place a downward header past the Hammers keeper 1-0.
Not down hearted the visitors conjured up a prolonged spell of pressure testing the makeshift back three with Lewie in the right back position, but they stood firm and almost scored on the counter, but Dennis could only find a grateful keeper from close range.
With about 20 minutes to go Dennis doubled his tally from the spot after Lawrence was bought down in the box and from a stuttering run up Dennis fired home 2-0.
There were one or two half chances to see the game out, but this was job done, but make no mistake this was not a commanding or convincing display against largely teenagers finding their way in the game, and if I was Manning I would find this deeply concerning that an experienced Dons team made heavy weather of it and were lucky to finish with 11 men on the pitch as O’Hora looked to be the last man when committing a professional foul.
On to Shrewsbury on Saturday, who knows what will happen.