Another game, another draw. Of course, the result hasn’t been met with much positivity, but for me, the value of the point is not lost.
I’ve not been at the Bank this evening – sadly, I’ve felt poorly all day and chose to sit at home and watch it on iFollow. I think that gives you a slightly different perspective on the game. For instance, you don’t have the adrenalin pumping as much, you get to see events again on a replay, and you can perhaps disassociate and be a little more objective. Don’t get me wrong, I’m disappointed we didn’t win a game in which we looked so comfortable early doors, but the outpouring of negativity, for me, is misplaced.
I’m not going g to break the game down incident by incident – I want to get to bed and shake whatever has laid me up before work tomorrow, and I don’t feel there’s a huge amount of value in going over everything again. Once again, we were depleted, three first-team defenders out, with both House and Shodipo rested with the weekend’s fixture in mind. It meant a second start for Harry Boyes at full-back, with Roughan and the impressive Eyoma on either side of our defensive rock, Paudie O’Connor.
MK Dons are a possession-based team; just because they’re in the bottom three doesn’t mean they’re going to come here looking ragged. They’ve picked up a little since Mark Jackson came in and have such a strong squad on paper. People seem to forget that when assessing – they look at the league table and think, ‘we should win that’, but that’s such a short-sighted view. Mo Eisa was what, a £1m striker? Will Grigg was £4m, then they’ve got Bradley Johnson with 90-odd Premier League outings and six solid seasons in good Championship sides. Their squad is laden with expensive-looking purchases like Leko, and big wages, and they’re not performing, but they’re not some sort of plucky underdog drowning, like Morecambe or Accrington for instance. They spend something like £112 for every £100 they earn, and that investment means they’re a decent side, even if they haven’t shown it all season.
There’s no denying we started at a good pace. They looked to hold on to the ball and play across the back, and that killed the first half. It reminded me of when you play FIFA, and your opponent passes from side to side to stop you from having the ball. Usually, that happens when you’re a goal down, but instead, we went a goal up. It was a superb strike as well, a lovely move between Bishop and Diamond setting up Mandroiu for an absolute wondergoal. You wait months for a decent goal, and suddenly you get two in the space of four days. I’m not sure which was better, Ben House’s on Saturday or Mandroiu’s thunderb@stard tonight.
I suspect that raises expectations in the ground, and you think that City are going on to win the game comfortably. The truth is, nothing else really happened in the first half. The possession stats said 28% to us, 72% for them. It wasn’t possession with a purpose at all; they held on to the ball, passed it from side to side and neither side had a chance at goal. There’s no doubt we looked like we could raise our game in the first half, but we weren’t poor. It wasn’t a great watch, but it was an easier watch than losing 2-0 to Gillingham a year ago.
I didn’t see a huge amount of difference between this MK team (first half at least) and the one we thrashed 4-0 a couple of seasons ago. They had good players then, but no purpose and no end product. I’m not saying we did have – we were blunt going forward, and after the goal, it was another very tough evening for Jack Diamond and Luke Plange. I thought both worked hard but looked isolated at times. I’ve read about certain players lacking effort, but that wasn’t evident to me at all. There’s no doubt Plange is a different type of striker to House, and had Ben been fit, he would have started. Would he have had much joy? I don’t know.
By the way, booing the team off at half time, when they’re 1-0 up? Wow. I despair sometimes, I really do. I understand booing the final whistle, I still think it’s ridiculous, but I understand it. But at 1-0 up with 45 minutes to play? Wow.