How MK Dons changed an ordinary Tuesday night

Will Grigg. Pic: JAR
Will Grigg. Pic: JAR

Waking up this morning, you’ll be forgiven for wondering whether it really happened. But rest assured, it did.

MK Dons weren’t just a plucky team from the lower leagues, pouncing on a Premier League side down on their luck and lost for another way to turn. MK Dons played Manchester United off the park, and they beat them by four goals to nil.

Realistically speaking, a good proportion of the fans inside stadium:mk on Tuesday night probably hadn’t heard the names Will Grigg, Dele Alli, Ben Reeves or Benik Afobe - but they went home not only knowing who they were, but more importantly, how much they spun the spotlight on Milton Keynes.

In a midfield packed with world class players, an 18-year-old called Dele, from this town, showed the world why there’s so much hype around him, ghosting past players who have graced the biggest stage of them all and leaving them for dust - and sometimes chopping them down to size for good measure.

Reeves’ persistence earned Dons the first goal, closing down a poor attempt at a clearance from another international, Jonny Evans, teeing up Grigg to fire Dons into an astonishing lead. Until that point, United had looked fairly comfortable.

But when Samir Carruthers stung the palms of David De Gea, who incidentally spent his summer in Brazil, suddenly the perspective of the match changed. Dons were now the side on top, not their Premier League opponents.

Their lead carried to half time, but many expected a renewed United to come out again in the second half, full of fire instilled in them by manager Louis van Gaal.

And to an extent they did. But David Martin in the Dons net remained relatively untested, watching a few balls sail over his cross bar aside. Later he’d get his moment in the sun, but only when the game was done.

But when Reeves crossed from the left, spotting an unmarked Grigg in the centre, time almost stood still inside stadium:mk. Rather than dip his head, Grigg puffed out an audacious chest, catching De Gea on the hop perhaps. Regardless, it nestled into the net. Dreamworld.

On a hat-trick, Grigg was given a hero’s ovation when he was pulled from play by Karl Robinson, but it was time to make way for another hero in the making in Benik Afobe.

As United pushed forward, desperate to avoid arguably their most humiliating defeat since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement a 15 months ago, Dons caught them napping at the back, and once more, it was Ben Reeves at the centre of the move.

Among Dons fans, his ‘no-look’ pass is a matter of regularity - it happens more often than you’d care to think. But this time, setting Afobe in on goal to roll in Dons’ third, it became a matter of legend.

Afobe’s bullying approach to the fourth, and his ‘this is what I do’ style celebration, effectively summed up the night - though if more clarification were needed, the scoreboard did a pretty good job of it too.

It read ‘MK Dons 4-0 Manchester United’ and it wasn’t a trick of the light.

Because it really was.