Manning called for a better connection between Robson and O’Riley

Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 6:00 am

Matt O’Riley

The midfield partnership between Matt O’Riley and Ethan Robson is beginning to flourish after some slight tinkering from Dons head coach Liam Manning.

In the absence of David Kasumu, Robson has played every minute of the four League One games so far this season since joining on loan from Blackpool and has been a key man in the centre of the park, breaking up play.

O’Riley signed in January on a free transfer and barely missed a kick in the second half of the season as he established himself as a vital cog in Russell Martin’s side.

Ethan Robson has stood out since arriving at MK Dons on loan from Blackpool

The former Fulham man has been deployed in a slightly deeper role thus far this season though, with the three-pronged threat of Mo Eisa, Troy Parrott and Scott Twine currently leading the line.

The partnership between Robson and O’Riley though thrived in the 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town on Saturday as the duo gave the home side the run-around, and the latter netted Dons’ second equaliser to share the spoils.

After seeing them against Sunderland a week prior though, Manning said he felt he needed to get both on the same page to get the best out of them and to give Dons’ engine room a more connected feel.

“We spoke a lot in the week about him and Ethan sticking together, staying connected and you really saw that today,” said Manning after the game at Ipswich. “I felt at times against Sunderland there was a disconnect.

“Fair play to (O’Riley) and Ethan, they really bought into it and you saw today the number of touches they had went through the roof, and there was purpose to it. They switched it, played through the lines, played long and looked to hurt Ipswich.

“We're not restricting them but trying to get them into position to hurt them. Both him and Ethan were excellent today.”