Five talking points after Dons’ defeat to Sunderland

Liam Manning’s first game in charge may have ended in defeat to Sunderand on Saturday, but supporters leaving Stadium MK will have had a lot of positive things to consider.

By Toby Lock
Monday, 16th August 2021, 10:12 am
<p>Liam Manning</p>

Liam Manning

The 2-1 defeat to the Black Cats means Dons are still seeking their first win of the season. Here are a few of the talking points to come out of Stadium MK afterwards.

Fisher adds an air of calm

The confidence a goalkeeper can bring to a defence cannot be measured, but it was clear to see with Andrew Fisher back between the sticks. Missing out on the opening two games through injury, Fisher brought the best out of Warren O’Hora, Harry Darling and Zak Jules as they looked far more assured than they did at Bolton. Some of the more extreme ‘playing out from the back’ stuff was gone from his game, but within 30 seconds he’d beaten a Sunderland attacker with a chop back onto his left foot.

Not just an air of calm, he proved to be a top keeper too, saving Lynden Gooch’s late penalty.

Robson stands out in the midfield battle

Not in the least bit put off by taking on his boyhood club, Ethan Robson was again excellent in Dons’ midfield. It’s probably fair to assume Robson was brought in as cover should David Kasumu suffer another injury, as he did last season, but he has stepped into the centre of the park and has proven to be a really astute acquisition on loan from Blackpool. Clever on the ball, fierce in the tackle, full of running and energy, Robson was the key man in Parrott’s goal to help get Dons back into it. With Kasumu missing for a while, Robson looks like a perfect replacement.

Parrott could be a game-changer

In just two games on loan at Dons, it is clear to see why Tottenham’s Troy Parrott is tipped for big things. Dragging the game with him in the second half, he took his first goal for the club brilliantly as he finished off Robson’s pass, but it was the rest of his game which made the biggest impact. Wanting to take players on, he looks like a more mobile Scott Fraser so far. His vision too is something which will get him to high places - spotting a potential lob from the edge of the box had Sunderland keeper Lee Burge scrambling to tip it over the bar.

If Dons can harness his abilities and get the best out of the 19-year-old quickly, he could be the key man this season.

The second half looked more Manning

Not much of the way Dons went about their business on Saturday would have been about Liam Manning. Coming in on Friday morning, the prep work was largely carried out by Dean Lewington again, just as it was for the Bolton game. Given just a day to watch his side train and 45 minutes to see what they could do, his half-time tinkering took a hit when Sunderland scored a second early on, but from there, it was all Dons. There certainly wasn’t much possession for the sake of possession.

Though he won’t have much time on the training ground until next week, the new boss showed his vision for the game could lead to good things as early as Charlton on Tuesday.

Dons can cause troubles this season

It might be a long shot to expect a team who finished 13th last season to become promotion contenders, but the game with Sunderland, expected to fight for the title, showed they can mix it with the best and cause them a lot of trouble too. They just need to sharpen up in front of goal and stop with the mistakes at the back (a familiar message).

Only two games in, it is impossible to tell the full landscape of League One, but already, Dons can fancy themselves to be a troublesome team if Manning can get everyone singing from his hymn sheet quickly.