Dons show The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Benik Afobe celebrates his hat-trick against Colchester
Benik Afobe celebrates his hat-trick against Colchester

Seven goals, six points, three days, two games, one word the players are still too scared to utter within ear-shot of their manager.

A little over a week ago, Dons’ 2-2 draw with Rochdale appeared to be a decent marker against a side battling to get into the play-off spots.

Two games later, Dons have shaken off the underlying disappointment of the result at stadium:mk, and are now firmly in position to mount arguably their best assault at promotion since 2008.

There was a feeling of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ about what Dons had to do in the games against Colchester and Sheffield United, but it has been effective, with back-to-back wins sending them into third in League 1.

First the good: the 6-0 demolition of Colchester on Saturday proved what Dons are capable of when they have the bit between their teeth.

Dons were relentless, epitomised by Lee Hodson’s 90th minute sixth.

At long last, Dons put a team to the sword at stadium:mk, and were high and dry by half time - not often something that can be said of Karl Robinson’s side over the years. And it continued into the second half too, with no remorse.

Benik Afobe looked in scary form though could have had at least another two to go alongside his hat-trick. Ben Reeves looked more like the Player of the Year again, and Dele Alli was, well, Dele Alli.

The Bad and the Ugly: the teenager was branded ‘rubbish’ by his manager after Tuesday night’s performance against Sheffield United though, despite scoring the winner three minutes from time to escape Bramall Lane with a smash-and-grab victory. Granted, he wasn’t at his best, but no-one on the field was.

It was far from a pretty performance from either side. Dons approached the game in a different manner, almost as though they were ready to settle for a draw from the off.

Will Grigg’s relentless running earned him nothing but plaudits off the field, though on it, his rewards were scant, nonexistent in fact.

Dons defended in great number, with both Daniel Powell and Carl Baker dropping deep in support of their full backs, before racing forwards to try and catch the Blades on the counter attack.

The hostile home support were far from happy about decisions they felt went against their side, but their anger towards the man in the middle was quickly translated into anger at their own players, as crosses were over hit, shots were tame and when they did have the ball in the net, it was chalked off for offside. They looked the more likely side to score though, if anyone was to ever break the deadlock.

Alli’s late strike, his ninth of the season, was gifted to him on a plate.

Substitute Danny Green fired in a hard, low free kick goalwards, marking up Dons’ first attempt on target in the 87th minute. Mark Howard got down low to keep it out, but could only pop it up to Afobe, who then slid in Alli to smash home from close range.

It was an ugly end to the game. Dons, hell-bent on escaping the Steel City with stolen property, did everything they could to disrupt play during five minutes of stoppage time.

Green’s petulance earned him a rapid-fire sending off for two bookings, while Afobe used his physical prowess to bring down every player with the ball on half way.

But it worked. And though they were booed and jeered as fans left the stadium into the cold night, you could see what the win meant to everyone on the bench as they piled onto the pitch in celebration.

It has been a good week.