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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MK Dons Preview

All those unimpressed by our draw with the Daggers need only take a brief look at the bottom of the league table to get even more irritated. This, despite Parky's assertions that our first half performance was our best this season, will serve to remind you that apart from giving the Daggers their first away league goals after 315 scoreless minutes, we've now managed two draws against the bottom two in our last two games.
And we have to thank our young goalie Ross Wormer for even that, after making 3 excellent saves in the second half.

But there's no rest for the wicked as after the youngsters from Dagenham come another club with next to no history being been born in their present guise in June 2004 after having absonded from SE25. Leading out the Dons these days is the youngest manager in the Football League, 30 year old Karl Robinson, and he is also the youngest person to ever acquire a UEFA Pro Licence at the age of 29. If you are impressed enough to read more, its here.
But if you think the apparent inexperience of their manager in any way implies a pushover and perhaps another 5-1 like last season then it's probably best to think again as they are currently 9th in the table and with a home record thats the best in Tier Three. In fact Robinson is in that select group of managers who were either useless at playing or had to retire early because of injury - he's in the second group - and he started in a coaching role at Liverpool in his early twenties before following Paul Ince around at MK Dons and then Blackburn where he also experienced life working for Sam Allardyce.
And don't expect to see the same style of play from the Dons this season. Robinson was in charge for the last four games of last season and although they drew one and lost three of those four fixtures, "Robinson's attempt to introduce a less direct and physical style of play was appreciated by a large section of supporters." In fact, they like to pass it around and play possession football.

So top of the table, in home form, with 10 points from 4 games so its fortunate that they're coming to the Valley because away from home its been quite the reverse with only one win from the 4 games with a 2-1 win at Walsall on opening day being their best result, followed by a bit of a pasting at Carlisle by 1-4, another defeat, 0-2, at Brighton and then another reverse 1-2 last weekend at Peterborough.
So we can only hope that we won't see them at their best and perhaps we can take encouragement from the fact that all of their 4 wins have been against teams below us in the league and the fact that this will be their third away game in a week, after Birmingham last week in the League Cup where they lost 1-3 and then Peterborough at the weekend.

The Opposition
Top scorer is number 10, 21 year old Sam Baldock with 4 and he looks to be a rising star having being been chosen for the England U-20 team to play at the FIFA World Cup last year in Egypt. He missed the Rochdale game with an ankle knock and was an unused sub against Peterborough where up front were Jabo Ibehre and Jermaine Easter, both with two goals each this season.
Meanwhile, our Christian is not the only old boy around these parts as the Dons have Dietmar Hamann, currently 37, of Liverpool fame. He it was who scored the last ever goal at the old Wembley in a game that Germany won 1-0 and forced the resignation of Kevin Keegan. Hamann was on the bench against Rochdale but started against Peterborough.
And Luke Chadwick and Lee Martin may have a few memories to discuss after their similar playing experiences. Both, obviously guilty of sinning in a previous life, started their career at Man U ( OK, Martin was at Wimbledon before that) and both were then loaned out to Belgian side Royal Antwerp. Although 6 years older Chadwick hasn't travelled so far or as much as Martin with 8 club stickers on his luggage whilst our Lee has already seen the inside of 9. And both Martin and Jermaine Easter know each other from Plymouth in 2007.

What Are They Saying?
Dons chairman Pete Winkelman said: "Karl (Robinson) is a young man with enormous ambition who has the talent to build on the momentum our club is building."
Daggers boss John Still on why Paul Benson is still not finding the net, "You have to cross it early. The wide players here come inside too much. As soon as you don't cross it, defenders get tight to him."

Following on from the Daggers an even shorter history if you conveniently forget the confusion with Wimbledon. Only two games played, both last year of course, and we won both. A pulsating 5-1 home win in November followed by a 1-0 win in April.

Whats Their Secret?
After our two goals on Saturday we have at least reached double figures with 10 goals scored even though in doing so we have slumped to 19th in the most generous league table having gifted 6 points now after having gone in front. This can be explained, partly, by our early game prominence, because we've scored first in 6 of our 8 league games. Only Bournemouth have more first-to-score games that us and we are one of eleven teams who have all failed to score just once.
And perhaps we should ask the League if we can play shorter games. Say 35 minutes which would suit us fine. We haven't conceded a single goal in that time in 9 games played whilst scoring 8 times. And its our second half performances that perhaps should be worrying Parky far more.
As for the Dons we face a team that are more ruthless than we are. They have only scored first in three games but have won them all whereas the generous Addicks have won three and drawn three of our 6 score first games.
The Team
Parky has some injury worries for todays game with both Anyinsah and Reid picking up hamstring injuries on Saturday while Abbott and Solly were both already in the treatment room.
But will he learn from last weekends failures. Perhaps stealing frequent goalscorer Tosan Popo from the U18's, especially since he turned 18 on Sunday, might serve to shake up the strikers even more and while we'll at it why not partner him with Tamer Tuna, unused sub on Saturday, who'll be 19 next month.
Meanwhile, bearing in mind we have so much trouble with our strikers who have once scored once (Anyinsah) in our last 8 games, he'll be very surprised to learn that we have the most scorers in Tier Three (including cup games). Yes, no less than eleven addicks have found the back of the net this season although close behind come the Dons with 10 scorers. Shame that Paul Benson is not among our eleven.

Wormer; Francis, Doherty, Fortune, Fry; Martin, Semedo, Racon, Jackson; Benson, Sodje.

This will be a tough game and I can't really see a win here unless you manage to take heart from the Dons fragile away record. Their 1-4 defeat at Carlisle, where they also lost 0-5 last year, was because of the agressive Carlisle tactics where the Dons were hurried and hassled and never given time to settle on the ball. This is the only approach that may unsettle them and prevent them enjoying possession for long periods. Perhaps a return for MacCormack would improve matters here.
But unless the team continues its first half performance from last weekend, a 1-1 draw is probably the best we can hope for.

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