League 1 is there for the taking

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DONS were so good at Tranmere on Friday night that it was actually a little bit scary, and the rest of League 1 will have been hiding behind their sofas, writes Simon Downes.

Although Saturday’s results saw Dons drop from second down to fourth place in the table, their 1-0 thrashing of the league leaders at Prenton Park has taught them that there really is nothing to fear this season.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the division though. It’s hard to summarise Dons’ victory against Tranmere without sounding arrogant or disrespectful, but oh well.

Dons were immense, yet Karl Robinson was – by his standards – fairly modest after the game. If he had come out and described his side as the Barcelona of League 1, few could have disagreed. It was a complete performance.

But of course, the difference between Dons and Barcelona is that the Spanish giants are able to turn possession and forward dominance into plenty of goals – 37 in 12 La Liga games if you’re counting – whereas Robinson’s men almost let another three points slip agonisingly through their fingers on Friday night.

Fortunately, on this occasion, they got the single goal they needed to make Tranmere look more like relegation candidates than promotion rivals. Dons have lost to Swindon, Walsall, Crawley and Stevenage for a reason.

But 19 hours in second place should have done Dons’ confidence a world of good, and now surely the only way is up. Luke Chadwick was different class at Tranmere – looking like he’d still fit into the Manchester United team, the way he dominated the midfield and provided chance after chance for his attacking team-mates, and himself.

His swagger around the middle of the park seemed to epitomise a growing belief at stadium:mk. Belief that this could seriously be Dons’ year to miss out on the play-offs and win the right to play such beauty football in the Championship. This is why Stephen Gleeson stayed at the club, and it’s starting to look like a good decision.

League 1 is there for the taking if Dons can remain consistent enough. Maybe they need another striker to come in and finish some of the 20 odd chances they created at Tranmere, or maybe Charlie MacDonald or Ryan Lowe will come good. Whatever the case, it’s the 23 other teams in the division that should be afraid.