Plenty to mull over after Dons' Doncaster draw

You see them given, you see them not - Dons have every right to be frustrated after Doncaster's late equaliser, but it has highlighted another issue on Russell Martin's plate.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 11:31 am
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 11:34 am
Russell Martin

In their last 12 games, Dons have conceded in the last five minutes in HALF of those games, and only one of those - Burton Albion's third at Stadium MK - meant dropping points or led to defeat.

Losing to Fleetwood, losing to Wycombe in the Leasing.com Trophy, losing to Bolton, losing to Rotherham and then forced to share the spoils with Doncaster, Dons' ailments seem to be heightened when heading into the final five minutes of a game at the moment.

Dons may have a case for added disappointment though, particularly after seeing Donervan Daniel's manhandling of keeper Lee Nicholls, but the fact of the matter is Rovers were on the front foot as Dons clammed up late on, desperately clinging onto what could have been their first league win since mid-September. The home side had twice had the ball in the net too and were twice denied by the offside flag.

Seeing games out is a fundamental part of escaping the precarious position Dons are in, but once more highlighted the fragility of a one-goal lead.

BEST PERFORMANCE?

What Conor McGrandles said after the 1-1 draw with Doncaster Rovers on Saturday was right though - it was Dons' best performance in ages. Although they slowed right down after taking the lead, they looked in control. Doncaster were limited to precious few chances, while Dons looked assured, content to keep the ball and see the game out.

There have been constant improvements in every game since Russell Martin took over. While they panicked in the second half against Rotherham after taking the lead in the first, Dons looked far more controlled against Doncaster, who themselves are suffering a bit of a sticky patch recently too.

Conor McGrandles said it was Dons' best performance in weeks at Doncaster.

Dons will need another step up in performance this Saturday when Oxford United come to town, with the added incentive of getting one over on former boss Karl Robinson.

LESS IS MORE

Alex Gilbey likes to be involved at both ends of the pitch, and sometimes that is to his detriment. Asking too much of himself leaves him exposed at one end or the other. Russell Martin has told him, and us in the media, that he wants to see less of the all-action Gilbey, and a more concentrated, potent Gilbey which can make a real impact on games.And it appears to be working. With two goals in his last three appearances, Gilbey was the stand-out man on Saturday and if he can keep chipping in with goals, he will increasingly become the leading man.

MORE MOORE-TAYLOR DELAYS

Alex Gilbey has found his scoring boots recently.

It was a false start for Jordan Moore-Taylor on Saturday as he was named in the starting line-up, went out to warm-up, but came back down the tunnel shortly afterwards, and missed out through a knee problem. The defender has played less than a game and a half for Martin since he took over - the first manager JMT has played for other than Paul Tisdale in his career - but the new boss will be eager to get him back fully fit and ready again.

That said, Regan Poole played one of his better games in a Dons shirt on Saturday as he stepped in at the 11th hour. Not often seen as part of a four-man defence at the club as yet, Poole initially looked rusty but grew into the affair and formed a strong partnership with compatriot Joe Walsh, who in turn is enjoying one of his best and most consistent seasons at MK Dons.

EVERYONE ON THE PITCH

As daft as that statement sounds, it was actually a turn up for the books as Dons finished with 11 men on the pitch. Five red cards in six games was a disappointing stat for Martin (though one of those was before he took over) but the yellow cards were reset after Saturday's game, meaning both Lewington and Gilbey avoid a potential ban.

Jordan Moore-Taylor pulled out during the warm-up at Doncaster.