Dons' defence dominates on derby day

Robbie Neilson and Scott Wootton share a hug
Robbie Neilson and Scott Wootton share a hug

Ten days is a long time in football, and for MK Dons, it has gone from languishing in the bottom half to nestled in the top.

A little more than a week ago, Dons were left licking their wounds after a 2-0 defeat to Peterborough at the Abax Stadium, and the defence were in the firing line. Robbie Neilson wasn't just angry with his back line - he was ready to name and shame, pointing the finger at Scott Wootton and George Williams. But since, the pair have answered back.

Scott Wootton and George Williams have looked more assured in defence, but Ethan Ebanks-Landell is fit again

Scott Wootton and George Williams have looked more assured in defence, but Ethan Ebanks-Landell is fit again

After a shaky start against Rochdale, conceding early, the pair firmed up. Dons picked up three points thanks to a late Ryan Seager goal.

And after two first half goals at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, it was their chance to shine again. Wootton and Williams formed a fierce partnership, winning everything in the air, strong tackling, no nonsense. It was a display worthy of praise from their manager, and expelled the ghosts of Peterborough. They are off the hook with the manager, even if most people pointed their fingers at the midfield instead.

Scott Golbourne and Callum Brittain have slotted on either flank as full back seamlessly. Brittain looks reliable and unfazed, even in the fiercest of atmospheres, he didn't wilt.

Meanwhile, Lee Nicholls continues to be the reliable final line of defence and is already, barely two months into the season, a contender to be player of the season such has been his impact.

Lee Nicholls was excellent against AFC

Lee Nicholls was excellent against AFC

Ethan Ebanks-Landell's return to fitness too leaves Neilson with something to contemplate - whether to keep his defence as is or whether to restore the defender he fought to get in during the summer. It's a nice problem to have - options.

At the other end of the pitch, Dons are looking potent too. Five goals in two games, Gboly Ariyibi firing three of them, Seager in form, Osman Sow getting better and fitter with every appearance, things are on the up.

Speaking before the game, all talk was of going to London to win, trying to ignore the pantomime that follows this fixture. Speaking afterwards, both Neilson and Nicholls tried to play down the impact of beating AFC in their own back yard. Both said the result ultimately meant three points - nothing more. But with it making back-to-back wins and laying to rest the ghosts of Peterborough a week earlier, it means a lot more to them than just points on the board.

And for the fans? A win in Kingston is all that matters.