Feet on the ground: Imps 2-1 MK Dons

Never too high when we win, never too low when we lose, right Danny? That’s the mantra isn’t it?

Stop winning in such bloody dramatic circumstances then. How can anyone wearing red and white not come home from that absolutely buzzing. I want to record a podcast right now. I want to talk up our performance, our desire and the size of that result. I want to scream ‘champions elect’ from a rooftop. However, quite rightly, we must keep our feet on the ground. It is one more game, three more points but nothing has been won and lost.

Is that entirely true though? We haven’t won the league this afternoon, but we have won some momentum, we’ve finally beaten MK Dons at the seventh time of asking and we’ve taken their unbeaten league record. There’s a lot to be said for breaking down barriers, smashing through other team’s records and simply ploughing on.

Anyway, whatever the result it was a superb afternoon of football. The big team news was Josh Vickers’ return, not entirely expected but still very welcome. Josh is a super keeper, a big presence and a comfortable pair of hands. he commands his box well and although I feel bad for Grant Smith, Josh is our number one. What is testament to our squad is a player who started the season as number one at Bristol Rovers can’t get on our bench.

Other than that is was pretty much business as usual. Freck is still suspended and I suspect Michael O’Connor is the player benefitting from that, with Tom Pett pretty much a staple of the first team. Shay McCartan, a wonderful footballer, got a start and sadly Matt Green is still on the bench. I can’t speak highly enough of Matt Green and the depth of our squad, having him on the bench, is incredible. Make no mistake, MK Dons would surely have started with Matt Green today, had he played for them.

Green – benched

I think the depth we’ve got is unparalleled this season. I dare say at no time in history have we had such a rich and varied squad. I know back in the seventies and eighties we had great teams, teams it would be hard to ever talk down, but have we ever had a squad with a bench packed full of players that would play for 90% of our rivals? I think not. There was some discontent at one point this summer that the squad might not be deep enough, that looks hilarious now, doesn’t it?

Anyway, on with the game, we all know what miracles we’ve achieved on what is a competitive budget, but not one unmatched at this level. I thought we came out of the blocks well, playing nice football on the ground, pressing where needed. It was obvious that our opponents knew their stuff though. As we switched play from one side to the other, their defence moved as if on rails, never leaving a gap. It was no less than I imagined Paul Tisdale would demand, but they still have to come and do it. We saw (you saw, I was laid up with my back) the same in the play off semi final last season. I thought it had 0-0 written all over it.

We had a decent chance in the opening few minutes, but then MK started to nudge their way into the game. They have some very good players and I perhaps shouldn’t have been surprised to see Dean Lewington looking as fit and agile as he did twelve years ago. I rarely come out and say this, but I admire him greatly. To play for one team for your entire career is commendable, but to still perform to an acceptable level deep into your thirties is impressive.

Longevity – Lewington

Mind you, Jason Shackell is still right up there despite being 34. I watched him closely in the first half and he’s such a massive influence in the back four. I think he’s what we’ve needed for a while, not just an organiser and a talker but a leader too. Bozzy is a player who leads by example, powering headers and throwing in tackles, but Shackell brings something different. it’s a knowledge, a know-how that maybe Bozzy has, but that Shackell delivers. Together, they’re quality and perhaps one might argue a better central defensive pairing than Luke and Raggs were.

The best chance of the first half fell to Mk Dons who proved they weren’t here to make up the numbers. A rasping drive from 20 yards looked to be going in, but for an excellent save by Josh. Instantly, you felt calm with him back in the side. That isn’t saying Grant Smith didn’t make you feel that way, but there’s something about Josh Vickers that makes me at ease. When he goes for a cross, he’s going to win it. His save justified Danny’s decision to put him back in the side.

If Flitcroft’s moaning means we get refs of his quality every week, then thank you very much indeed.

It wasn’t as if we weren’t creating chances, but nothing really clear-cut came our way. I’m beginning to think that centre forwards are always going to divide opinion, because I thought Akinde was excellent in the first half. His laying off of the ball was a joy at times and he’s clearly done a lot of work with the wide players. Time and again his little flick or his hold up play allowed us to advance and whilst he didn’t get a decent effort away, he was a real threat all game, certainly more so than Chucks Aneke. 

I thought MK Dons were robust, but on the acceptable side of the word. They definitely came wanting to get stuck in, but Stuart Attwell did superbly well. There were two early incidents, one a foul by MK Dons and another where Eardley smashed the ball with his fist after conceding a free kick. Attwell didn’t get a card out for either incident, had he done so we might have seen a shambles of a game. Instead, he pulled out the first card for a cynical trip and booked a couple more before half time, but it never threatened to boil over. If Flitcroft’s moaning means we get refs of his quality every week, then thank you very much indeed.

It does amuse me that we get labelled as a dirty side when once again, it was the opposition racking up the bookings. What we are is a dangerous side and one or two of the yellows they collected were for fouls intended purely to stop us going forward. Fair play to MK, it wasn’t a case of Mansfield-style thuggery, but a managed approach to discipline.

 Next Page – Second Half Action


  1. Couldn’t have been described any better!
    You were certainly at the same match as I was this afternoon and a great advert for league 2 football ably refereed by a premier division official which makes me think if the game had been refereed by a league 2 official it may have been spoilt through inexperience.
    MK are a good side no doubt and it could have gone either way if chances had been taken so credit to Tisdale for not shutting up shop.
    3 points is the result that takes us 9 in front of them so they are going to have to win 3 more than us in this long season which means coming out of their defensive set up.
    I am not sure they can do that, but are the 2nd best side I have seen this season.
    Andrade gets my old bones off the seat which has not happened since 75 and a certain Dave Smith and what a year we had then!

  2. Totally agree with Bruno as MOM,
    he is fast becoming my favourite player.I thought one run down the Coop stand in the first half was brilliant.

  3. Fantastic result for the Imps. BUT, they are still a work in progress, they are still getting used to each other and that shows in too many passes/crosses going astray or over hit. This will improve as the games mount up. The disappointment to date is the performances of Anderson, he has not improved since last season. He runs and huffs an puffs but the majority of the time it peters out with no end result or gifting the ball to the opposition. It was quite telling today that he wS replaced by Green and immediately we looked more fluid up front. For me Green should start and Anderson should either be used as an impact player or loaned out to sharpen his skills!!
    Great result, up the Imps!!!

  4. A great and entertaining game of football and it was great finally get one over Tisdale. Green is not getting into the first team for a reason,what that is I would love to know. Akindi for me is not looking like a 20 or 30 goal a season striker and I must say as a link player I still prefer Mr Rhead.

  5. I agree with Harrow about Anderson. He’s bullish but not clever, if I were an opposition fullback I’d relish playing against him, I could get stuck in without really being tested.
    For me he needs more facets to his game than he currently has, to be good enough for league 2 & beyond.

  6. An excellent piece of journalism! I’m an Imps supporter from way back, currently living in Asia & this forum is my best way of finding out how the team are really doing. Back at xmas to catch a few games πŸ™‚
    Great reporting Gary! UTI

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