Dream come true for Church after a special week

Simon Church heads home.
Simon Church heads home.

Simon Church capped an excellent week with a goal as he sets his sights on Euro 2016.

The Welsh international was part of Chris Coleman’s squad celebrating qualifying for the tournament in France next summer, and returned to the MK Dons starting line-up to score the second in the 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

Simon Church

Simon Church

And with the chance of playing in the competition next summer, Church says it would be a dream come true to be involved.

“It has been a very nice week,” said Church. “Qualifying for the Euros was a dream come true, and to come back, play well, score and get the win was great too. It has been a good start to the month!

“It’s amazing, the achievement. The team, the squad, it’s the best one I’ve ever been a part of. The fans got behind us and we’ve deserved it.

“For me to be part of it, I have to be playing well for MK Dons. My main focus now is to be part of the squad and go to the Euros.”

Church rose highest to power home Josh Murphy’s cross 19 minutes from the end to make things comfortable for Dons after Ben Reeves’ ninth minute penalty put the home side ahead.

Reeves slotted home a third late on to complete a fine week of his own, having also qualified alongside Lee Hodson for Euro 2016 with Northern Ireland.

And with Dons also turning a corner, picking up four points from the last six, Church says the dressing room is a great place to be at the moment.

“It’s perfect in the dressing room at the moment. For Lee and Reevesy to come back into the squad here after qualifying too, and off the back of the Bristol City result.

“We’ve got a great team spirit here, the manager wants us to be better than where we are, and we deserve to be higher too.

“As some stage, our good performances would have to turn into results. We were lucky, but we deserved the penalty and it was the turning point. We got the result we deserved.”

Despite getting his second half goal, manager Karl Robinson read the riot act to Church at half time for missing a great chance in the first 45. Having picked the pocket of Shane Duffy, Church raced through on goal, but with Rob Hall unmarked in support, opted to go for goal only to see his shot go wide.

“I probably should have squared it,” Church admitted afterwards. “I felt the manager’s wrath at half time! I made a mistake there, but I knew I’d get another chance. As a striker, obviously I’m going to go for goal. I’ll hold my hands up and say I should have scored or squared it.

“I’ll take the heat for that, it doesn’t bother me. I scored the next one!

“We knew it would be important to get another goal and put it to bed. The gaffer told us to be ruthless and that’s the first time in a while we’ve gone 1-0 up. It was good to open them up and get another at the end.”

And that third goal at the end saw Dons climb an extra place the Championship standings, from 17th to 16th.

Church added: “It’ll be really tight this season, it always is at this level. Every goal will be important, as will the clean sheets. It’s all about momentum and stringing results together.

“It’s crazy, this league. We have to focus on each game, and it will be quite robotic, not looking too far ahead of ourselves.”