MK Dons 1-2 Sunderland: Manning’s Dons beaten by Black Cats
New head coach Liam Manning would not get the dream start at MK Dons as title favourites Sunderland claimed a 2-1 win at Stadium MK on Saturday.
Nearly 10,000 watched as the new man took charge of his first game for the club, having completed his move from Lommel on Friday. But despite a fairly balanced opening half, Ross Stewart was on hand to tap the Black Cats in front just three minutes before the break.
Elliot Embleton doubled their advantage early in the second half as the visitors threatened to run away with it, but Dons, inspired by Troy Parrott, were back in it just before the hour mark when the on-loan Spurs man finished off a great move to make it 2-1.
Parrott came close to an equaliser three times, as Sunderland held on, but only before returning Andrew Fisher denied Lynden Gooch from the penalty spot late on.
Manning stuck with the team which drew 3-3 with Bolton Wanderers last Saturday in naming his first line-up, with the exception of goalkeeper Andrew Fisher as he returned to the squad in place of Laurie Walker, who was omitted from the squad altogether - Franco Ravizzoli keeping his spot on the bench. Another omission from the squad was Will Grigg, who was not named in the Sunderland 18.
Having supporters back in grounds changed the complexion of games up and down the country last week, and it was a very similar feel at Stadium MK in the opening 45 minutes. Gone were the opening stages of feeling each other out, instead both Dons and Sunderland went for it from the off. There weren't many chances for either side, but the physical battle, especially between Zak Jules and Lynden Gooch was keeping the game bubbling along.
For Dons, Scott Twine twice came close, first from a free kick and then from a lofted Troy Parrott effort which dropped just wide of the mark four minutes before the break.
A minute later though, they would be behind. Ross Stewart was finding it hard to get anything out of Harry Darling throughout the first half, but when a deflected cross squirmed out of Fisher's grasp, Stewart managed to get half a yard from his marker to prod in and give Sunderland the half time advantage.
That lead was doubled seven minutes into the second half. The Dons defence was expecting an offside flag and were stood like statues when Elliot Embleton raced through, but with the flag never coming, he did excellently to first make Fisher move first before firing in Sunderland's second.
With Dons threatening shellshock though, they got back into it through Troy Parrott five minutes later. Ethan Robson, playing against his boyhood club, picked up the ball in the centre of the park, skipping past two challenges before threading it into Parrott on the edge. Still with work to do, Parrott took a touch before bending his effort past Lee Burge to give Dons a lifeline.
It kicked Dons into life, with Parrott at the heart of everything Dons did as they pressed for an equaliser. He headed just over the bar, narrowly missed Matt O'Riley's cross and had an ambitious lob tipped just over the top by Burge as Sunderland kept hold of their advantage.
The visitors didn't cause Dons many problems in the second period, but were handed a golden opportunity to put the game to bed when, six minutes from time, Darling pulled back Stewart as he ran into the area, leaving referee James Bell little option but to award the penalty. Gooch's spot kick though was a poor one, and Fisher gathered well, diving to his left to keep it out.
Despite a lot of huff and puff towards the end, and with seven minutes of stoppage time, Dons couldn't find a way back, leaving Manning to rue defeat in his first game in charge.
Referee: James Bell
Attendance: 9,830 (2,930)
MK Dons: Fisher, Watson (Martin 87), Jules, O’Hora, Darling, Harvie, O’Riley, Twine (Boateng 87), Parrott, Eisa (McEachran 75)
Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Lewington, Brown, Baldwin
Sunderland: burge, Flanagan, Evans (Pritchard 61), Doyle, Embleton, Gooch, Stewart, Winchester, (Wright 72) Cirkin (OBrien 72), Neal, McGeady
Subs not used: Patterson,Taylor, Diamond, Hawkes
Booked: Jules, Stewart, Gooch, Flanagan