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This time, Dons columnist Dominic Damesick warns not to write off Dons’ promotion ambitious just yet.
The league season is in danger of unravelling – back-to-back defeats against Yeovil and Bournemouth, coupled with red cards in the respective games for Antony Kay and Ryan Lowe, have left the Dons languishing in 11th place, low on numbers and with their confidence having taken quite a knock.
Yet, there are still plenty of points to play for, and League 1 this season is as unpredictable as it has ever been. Perhaps I am clutching at straws, but I would rather straws than a noose. The fat lady is yet to sing.
Ryan Lowe’s red card on Saturday was a disgraceful display of premeditated malice. Having clashed with Tommy Elphick a few minutes earlier Lowe had clearly lost his composure, and flung himself into a two-footed, studs-up challenge on Elphick with the intent of causing real damage.
It was pure luck that Elphick was able to walk off the pitch, rather than leaving on a stretcher with his leg in pieces. It was a vile, vindictive tackle from Lowe, and I was ashamed to call him ‘one of ours’ on Saturday afternoon.
In Lowe’s defence, not that he necessarily deserves one, he was extremely apologetic and remorseful after the game, and faced up to the irresponsible nature of his actions. He had not at any point this season, prior to Saturday, looked a dirty player, and so should probably be afforded the benefit of the doubt on this occasion. Still, he let the side down on Saturday, and will have some making up to do upon his return to the side.
Karl Robinson, meanwhile, will no doubt be feeling aggrieved. For the first 44 minutes of the game his side matched the league’s in-form team, and yet handed their opponents two significant advantages, courtesy of an awful back-pass from Jon Otsemobor and borderline GBH from Ryan Lowe. T
hese two moments aside, the Dons had looked fairly comfortable at the back, had retained possession well and had every chance of taking something from the game. Yet, once Lowe was dismissed, and Bournemouth bagged a second goal just a minute later, the uphill struggle became near vertical.
Izale McLeod appeared off the bench for the second half, and will surely be the starting striker in the next two league games, with Lowe suspended and returning loanee Patrick Bamford still a couple of weeks away from being match-fit.
McLeod had a frustrating 45 minutes on Saturday, and in turn cut a frustrated figure. He looked a handful for the Bournemouth defence at times, and caused the south coast club a few headaches with his movement and turn of pace. Yet, his finishing was almost comically poor, as he missed an open goal from two yards – only to have his blushes somewhat spared by a flag for offside – before scuffing the ball harmlessly wide on two occasions from good positions.
McLeod has looked to be snatching at shots when openings have emerged, which is perhaps indicative of a current lack of sharpness and confidence. It may be that once he re-opens his goal-scoring account for the Dons, McLeod will regain some of his trademark swagger and clinical edge in and around the penalty box, and in the meantime he should be spared the heckling from the stands.
Some fans, in my book, were guilty of being all too willing to drill the nails into the coffin of Charlie MacDonald’s MK Dons career, and it would be a travesty to see McLeod sentenced to the same fate just three games into his return to a club he holds very close to his heart. Do not write him, or the Dons, off just yet.