WITH the bitter pill of Tuesday night’s draw at Coventry still passing through the system, MK Dons welcome a rejuvenated Portsmouth to stadium:mk on Saturday looking to take out their goal-scoring frustration, and pick up three points.
A 1-1 draw at the Ricoh Arena was hard to swallow for a Dons side struggling to turn dominance into shots that hit the back of their opponent’s net. But Pompey certainly won’t be a pushover, coming to Milton Keynes with potentially season-turning back-to-back wins against Scunthorpe and Yeovil under their belts.
Those consecutive 2-1 victories have lifted the south coast outfit to the dizzy heights of 14th place in League 1 after a predictably nightmarish start to the campaign which included home defeats to Oldham and Walsall.
But with boss Michael Appleton continuing to strengthen his squad following their early-season restraints, albeit with several loan players, Portsmouth look set for a rise up the table – former Dons striker Izale McLeod taking his account for the campaign to four with a goal at Huish Park on Tuesday night.
Former QPR midfielder Akos Buzsaky is their latest acquisition, although he was an unused substitute at Yeovil where defender Gabor Gyepes bagged the winner, three days after also scoring against Scunthorpe.
Ironically, given the week Dons have had, Appleton has called for his side to be more ruthless in front of goal, with his future as manager still in some doubt in light of Balram Chainrai and the Pompey Supporters’ Trust vying for control of the financially-troubled club, who have been in administration since February.
Karl Robinson’s frustrations are not quite as complicated – he just wants his players to shoot when they get the chance – but the two managers are clearly going into the game with the same mindset of wanting to score more goals. Get your bets on a 0-0 draw then.
This has been arguably Robinson’s most difficult week in the job. Not because he’s under pressure as such, but because he is forced to accept that a draw away to a former Premier League side is not good enough for his Dons team this season.
It isn’t good enough because the aim, we have all been told, is automatic promotion. And with 10 games now played, you could say the table is starting to take shape – and Dons aren’t yet where they want to be. Seeing Tranmere, Stevenage and Crawley above his side in the table at this stage was clearly not part of the plan for Robinson.
So with all that in mind, three points against another former Premier League club, Portsmouth, are a must this Saturday.