Dons' progress does not out-weigh their late game heartaches
A truly awful 0-0 draw with AFC Wimbledon one year ago today puts into perspective a gut-wrenching 4-3 defeat to Bury on Saturday - but seeing how far MK Dons have come since then is not an excuse to overlook the manner of the defeat at Gigg Lane.
Leading 3-1 with 17 minutes to go, Dons conspired to lost 4-3 to the Shakers letting slip with it second spot in League 2. In their final game of 2018, Dons similarly threw away a two-goal lead at Northampton in the final 12 minutes to draw 2-2. The unfortunate trend has reared it's head throughout the season - losing 3-2 to Stevenage having led 2-1 into the final six minutes; a stoppage time equaliser conceded against Swindon; Yeovil equalising in the 88th minute; losing to Lincoln after leading with 18 minutes to go.
Rewind a year though, and few could have predicted the catastrophic four months Dons would have ahead of them after the dire AFC draw, culminating in relegation and the club's worst season on record. As bad as Dons were last season though, there was one team worse: Bury.
There was no doubt the second vs third clash on Saturday was a blockbuster. Both sides have made huge strides this season to right the significant wrongs, but as far as both have come, football is a game of short memories, with expectations changing even faster. Reflecting on how far both have come in the last 12 months is little more than nostalgic - the only thing that matters is the here and now.
From the off, the game was end-to-end. Dons' clinical finishing saw them net early, but two silly fouls in the penalty area could have cost them dearly as they conceded two penalties. Lee Nicholls denied Jay O'Shea's first attempt but was well beaten for the second, though Dean Lewington's free kick was enough to send Dons in ahead at the break.
An own goal threatened to put the game to bed early in the second period as Dons took a 3-1 lead. But Bury's comeback with 17 minutes remaining, sparked by Dominic Telford's goal sparked Dons' meltdown. Level three minutes later when the excellent Danny Mayor found the net, it was almost inevitable when Nicky Adams whipped one goalwards in stoppage time - whether Nicky Maynard got the final touch or not is irrelevant - to win it for the home side.
Having experienced a similar reversal in fortunes two weeks ago at Northampton, it was another blow for the travelling Dons fans who were quick to take to social media to voice their displeasure. Losing by the odd goal in seven against promotion rivals could well have been a tolerable result given no back story, but throwing it away *again* late in the day made it all the more sickening for the long drive home.
It's not Paul Tisdale's first rodeo though. What he reveals in the media will barely scratch the surface of how he actually feels after a game. Against Northampton, he said he was happy to stop their losing streak, when really he was furious his side were going home with only a point having controlled the game. At Gigg Lane, while outwardly disappointed, inwardly he would have been at boiling point. He hates losing, but more than that, he hates the repetition of mistakes and failures. Doing all of those things to promotion rivals will have made for a dismal coach-ride home.
Ultimately, Dons have thrown away enough points this season which would have seen them high and dry at the top of the table. Realistically, every team will have made similar mistakes, made as many costly errors and lost points when more seemed in the bag. Letting these games slip is a trend Tisdale is not happy with - stopping it must now be the priority.