It is hard to identify which moment seemed the most surreal on Saturday afternoon: the Dons finally scoring, and ending a run of over three hundred minutes without a goal; the hail storm during the first half, which made for quite a racket against the corrugated iron roof of the away stand; the realisation at the final whistle that the Dons had managed to score three, despite missing a penalty; or the fact that one of those three goals was an absolutely stunning strike from none other than Luke Chadwick!
It was with a mixture of joy and relief that the travelling ‘MK Army’ celebrated, as the MK Dons returned to winning ways on Saturday, dispatching on Scunthorpe in comprehensive fashion. The Dons should not, however, be getting carried away on account of beating a weak Scunthorpe side. Not that I mean to detract from Saturday’s well-earned victory: regardless of the opposition the game still has to be won, and the Dons looked imperious against their struggling counterparts, with three goals a modest return given the Dons’ domination.
Such superiority was especially pleasing given that the Dons have been suffering from a well-documented crisis of confidence in front of goal of late, and so it was most welcome to see some flair and creativity (and goals!) return to the Dons’ side on Saturday afternoon.
The Dons were given a helping hand, or two, in their victory by Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe, who had an afternoon he will be keen to put behind him, bar a good penalty save, as he was guilty of some painful indecision and serial flapping.
Slocombe’s opposite number David Martin had a far more enjoyable afternoon, and will have been happy to have kept a clean sheet away from home. Yet, much like Slocombe, Martin looked suspect against crosses into his box, and allowed himself to be blocked off too easily by the opposition at set pieces. When compared with a goalkeeper like Willy Gueret, Martin seems somewhat lacking in authority and stature, and while it did not cost the Dons on Saturday it continues to be of some concern.
Saturday’s game was also notable for being the first game of the season to date to be numbingly cold. Having seen the forecast for Arctic weather, my winter gear was brought out of its summer hibernation, as hats, gloves and scarves were all donned –no pun intended – for the trip to Lincolnshire. I also took the precaution of wearing my thermal long-johns, although this caused some discomfort on the way back, as I sat on a train with the heating ramped up to sub-Saharan temperatures. This forms part of the traditional winter challenge for a football fan of trying to maintain a healthy body temperature, while being faced with the stark contrast of an icy, wind-swept football stadium and a sauna on wheels. Yes, the life of a football fan is a perilous one.