Robbery but a great comeback

I must admit that past visits to MK Dons have not been productive in the way of points gained for us and I had the feeling that if we were going to come unstuck then this was the game where it would happen. MK Dons with no home win this season bur a very experienced and capable attacking team and us a team who seem to like to give the opposition a goal start as I believe I am right in saying we have done in the last 8 games which surely must be some sort of record!
Anyway it was a good night for football weather wise although there was a chill in the air in the open concourse in a brilliant Stadium that we have been told our new Stadium could be based upon. If that is the case bring it on because it certainly is a bit special with seats designed for comfort -ample leg space and a football luxury and toilets that are in a different world to the Mem and even with 1000 away fans no need to queue. The view was also excellent from all parts as far as I could see and it is only a myth that the new Stadiums are soulless bowls as we made plenty of noise despite all parts of the Stadium being about a fifth full.

Anyway on to the game and it was no surprise although in my opinion absolutely stupid that after Saturdays win there should be 5 changes with both selection and formation changes in the defence. Roberts replacing the struggling Leadbitter was no real surprise and Clarke-Salter in for Peter Harley with Ollie Clarke coming in from the cold giving us an extra midfielder in place of James Clarke. Bodin came in and Ellis replaced Gaffney. I really don’t like all these changes each game but how can you argue with the boss based on the results we have been achieving.

There is nothing good that can be written on a first half display that must go down as the worst 45 by a Rovers side this season as we struggled to get the ball in any shape or form. Our defenders looked like they had not met each other before (which was pretty well the truth in game time together as a unit) and the midfield (Sinclair apart) was not in the game and as a result our forwards were left without service although Ollie Clarke should really have put us ahead early on. The rest of the first half was really a damage limitation which really was more down to the opposition than good defensive work as thankfully the peppering of our goal with long shots was mainly off target. I was thankful to come in at half time only two down.

The second half as is often the case was far better in that Taylor scored a great goal very early and the fight back looked on. I have to say that when they made it 3-1 I really thought that even with our history of coming back in games it was all over and my feeling was that we were going to be dealt a drubbing as their spirits had been lifted as much by our performance as their own good football. It has to be said that they did look far better than their results showed. Taylors second after a classy back heel from Colkett looked a mere consolation although as we then went forward there was something about us that suggested that we were going to equalise and we duly did in injury time as Matty claimed the Match ball. Even then it looked like the referee who was awful all night gave them a free kick just outside of the area and very central but thankfully they cleared the bar. It was that sort of night where you thought that nothing would go our way. My own feeling at the end was that this was a point gained undeservedly for the one lost at Sheffield United where a draw was the least we deserved.

Roos 5 Had a bad night and never really recovered from an uncharacteristic handling error that gifted MK Dons a lead from what should have been an easily collected long shot. His kicking and general distribution was generally good after an early kick into touch but he looked visibly shaken and stayed rooted to his line for the rest of the game. He could also possibly have made a better effort for the third goal but it was gifted by Browns failure to get in a tackle.

Roberts 5.5 Left exposed far too often by the inept Bodin who is very poor defensively to say the least. Have to say he dealt with his winger generally better than Brown on the night and looks a reasonable full back at this level.

Lockyer 5.5 Locks seems to be struggling for form this season and I wonder how much of this is down to the constant changing of his partners in the centre of defence. Even the best players suffer from not having a good understanding with those alongside them and not for the first time this season we looked pretty awful first half in defence who were not at all helped by our midfield allowing their opponents to run at us.

Clarke-Salter 5 He did not look comfortable in a central two. He does look calm and good in possession but personally would have stuck with Hartley assuming he was not injured. He showed great ability for a centre half in setting up the second goal with a perfect set up for Matty Taylor. IMO it is not fair on a youngster to put him in and out of the team especially away from home.

Brown 5 Ollie Clarke left him totally exposed on the night but he should really have managed to close things down a bit better. Far too often especially in the first half he was caught out of position with his winger having far too much room to deliver crosses and to be honest he looked unusually lost playing as a full back rather than a wingback and I would blame him for both the second and third goal as he failed to get off the ground for the cross on the second and allowed his winger to leave him for dead on the second and come inside and fire home off Roos outstretched leg and inside the near post. Failed also to get a decently positioned free kick over the wall.

O. Clarke 4 Should have scored early on but apart from a couple of passes and a tackle he was completely lost to the first half and looked totally out of sorts and did nothing to make me think he is anything other than a squad player and possibly not even that with the players we now have available. Is it really fair on him to keep starting him having left him out of the squad completely? I don’t think so.

Sinclair 7 The only player in the first half who performed to his usual standard but with no assistance whatsoever from the other midfielders he had no chance of containing the rampaging opposition as they often walked past unopposed and he was the only one who at least showed some resistance and kept plugging away and trying hard to keep the ball for at least a period of time.

Lines 6 Terrible in the first half but thankfully improved in the second half. I still don’t know why we persist with allowing him to take the dead ball kicks when Colkett takes a far better corner and surely could have done better from a free kick in an excellent position where he cleared the bar by some distance. It was only really the last 15 minutes when he started to run at defenders with the ball and we then see what a great player he is.

Bodin 4 A mere shadow of the player from last season and in all honesty I could not understand why he was selected at all as his form this season has not generally warranted a place on the bench let alone in the starting line up. For me so far he has been the biggest disappointment after his brilliant form last season. His defensive work makes him a real liability if he is not on his top form at the other end of the pitch and he hit one shot well over in the first half when well placed.

Harrison 5 Looked better out wide in the first half but had very limited opportunity to do anything as we struggled both to get the ball and when we did get it to actually pass the ball to a player in yellow in the first 45. Unlucky with a header in the second half where he improved as did the team.

Taylor 8 MOM How long will DC persist in playing him in a wide position? Until his first goal he struggled to get into the game due to both poor control of the ball but also lack of quality service and being out of position. He then showed what a fantastic striker he is with the superbly hit individual goal as he controlled the ball ,ran at retreating defenders and curled a superb shot from 25 yards into the net. Pure class. The other two goals were true poachers goal taken perfectly,the second he couldn’t have missed having been put on a plate by an excellent cross from Clarke Salter and the third precisely put into the corner of the het to the great delight of us fans. At the game I thought the last goal had a look of offside about it but on looking at the replay the full back came out just too late to play him onside from a mishit shot.

Subs:

Colkett 7 head and shoulders better than what he replaced

Montano 6 Came on again but very late. Worked hard and was a mixed bag but far better than Bodin and should be given a run in the side. Brown looks far happier when he is on the pitch and at least he attempts to beat opposition players. Was beaten on the third goal but had he got in a tackle when Brown was turned inside out he would certainly have given a penalty away.

Gaffney 6 Showed good touches on the ground and worked hard. Certainly more threat than Harrison but by the time he came on at least the team were playing better.

Crowd 9 Has to be a 9 for the sheer numbers. Over 1000 on a school night was exceptional but the entertainment until the last 10 minutes hardly warranted much cheering. This was the worst display we have put on this season and for long periods it looked like DC would receive his comeuppance for his tinkering but would we have it any other way. Really got behind the lads when Taylor scored early second half but their third killed off the game for many until those fantastic closing minutes. The most amazing thing for me was the presence of our owner in the crowd and even queuing for half time beverages with supporters. We are very lucky to have such a fine man at the helm and a real football supporter. Well done Wael.

Ref 0 Dire all night!

MK Dons 6 Attacking wise one of the best sides we have played but thankfully their defending showed why they have dropped a lot of points and I am sure they must have felt like they had lost at the end.

DC Not one of his best nights and although results have been excellent are his constant changes with selection really working? My feeling is they are not as we rarely start a game well and thankfully the Manager does see the same game as us and usually makes the right changes which result in us getting the right result. I would rather he gets it right at the beginning more often and I blame his constant changes for the reason we have been behind for the last nine matches. Defence in particular needs understanding and last night was the worst example we have seen of a defence just looking like they didn’t know each others game. Ollie Clarke and Bodin both proved poor decisions and I think it must be said that DC was lucky to get away with his mistakes in selection last night. At some stage he must select his best team and stick with it as most teams do as keeping the majority of players happy will inevitably lead to more first half performances like last night and we wont always make these great escapes. The consolation is that you know these players will never accept defeat and that DC will always go for a win rather than hold out for a draw. The fact that we drew last night was just how it turned out because even after the third goal we were still going for another and DC deserves great praise for this.

So we move on to what I thought would be the easier of these two away games but then last night Oldham beat Scunthorpe 2-0 so it is going to be another difficult game and at this time maybe I would accept two points from these two games as OK but 4 would be much better and really set us up for the next home game against improving Peterborough.
Personally I would go for a much more attacking team from the start and stick with 4-4-2. It will be a tough decision as to whether to bring Easter back but I would go with

Roos

Roberts Lockyer Hartley Brown

Lines Sinclair Colkett

Montano

Taylor Gaffney

Subs Mildenhall Clarke-Salter Easter Harrison Moore Mansell Boetang

UTG

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