REPORT: Sheffield Utd 2-1 MK Dons
MK Dons capped a miserable week with a dank 2-1 defeat away at Sheffield United on Saturday.
After losing 3-0 to Southend at home last Saturday and sacking Karl Robinson the following day, Stefan Scougall needed barely five minutes to add more despair as he swept the Blades ahead, making them the sixth side to score against Dons inside the opening 10 minutes this season.
After a nondescript first half, Dons started the second brightly and were level four minutes after the restart through former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Darren Potter, but Dons' comeback would be short-lived as Billy Sharp restored the lead, and secured all three points, on 63 minutes to compound the misery.
There may have been a new man at the helm after Karl Robinson's departure last weekend, but Richie Barker's team selection had an air of the familiar. Making four changes to the side which lost pitifully to Southend last Saturday, Dean Lewington, Joe Walsh George Baldock and Ed Upson were brought back into the side which deployed in a 4-3-3, with Dean Bowditch leading the line.
It wasn't just the personnel which looked familiar though as Dons once again found themselves trailing early in the game. Trailing after 80 seconds against Southend, Sheffield United were ahead after four-and-a-half minutes. Unable to clear John Fleck's corner at the second and third attempts, Stefan Scougall took a hopeful swipe at it, and watched on as it bumbled over the line to give the home side the lead.
Dons looked without direction and purpose in the opening half an hour, and too often were guilty of trying too much. It almost played them into trouble when Samir Carruthers and George Baldock nearly allowed Mark Duffy to capitalise as Dons threatened to go to sea. The attacking trio of Dean Bowditch, Ben Reeves and Ryan Colclough were almost anonymous too.
Carruthers' involvement though would last just 28 minutes, suffering a knee injury forcing the introduction of Kieran Agard, bringing about an end to the 4-3-3 experiment as Dons reverted to type. He carved half a chance too just before the break, catching a sight of goal but rushed his shot, sending it high into the stands.
With a likely scorer failing to emerge though, former Sheffield Wednesday man Darren Potter took responsibility and fired in an equaliser four minutes after the restart. After Bowditch held up play to bring in Lewington, the skipper played the ball across the face of the penalty area to Potter, who shot low into the bottom corner to draw level.
It sparked something of a revival from the visitors, who appeared, at least for a period, to feel they could go on and get more from the game. Nicky Maynard came on to replace the ineffective Ryan Colclough to provide more of a threat, but once again Dons would be the masters of their own downfall. Chasing a ball wide to Scougall, keeper Martin was out of position when the ball looped back into the box, giving Billy Sharp the easiest of finishes from close range to fire United back into the lead on 63 minutes.
With no options on the bench, Dons limped to the finish in one of the more uneventful half hours of football this season, unable to create anything clear cut while United didn't need to.
The defeat leaves Dons just one place above the drop zone, and a much-needed break from League 1 action as they face Spennymoor in the FA Cup at Stadium MK next Saturday.
Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 20,495 (411)
Sheffield Utd: Moore, Fleck, Basham, Scougall (Lavery 73), Sharp, Wright, Coutts, Freeman, Ebanks-Landell, Duffy (O'Connell 90), Lafferty
Subs not used: Ramsdale, Brown, Whiteman, Chapman, Brooks
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Walsh, Hendry, Baldock, Carruthers (Agard 28), Potter, Upson, Colclough (Maynard 61), Reeves, Bowditch (Powell 79)
Subs not used: GC Williams, GB Williams, Nicholls, Downing
Booked: Freeman, Hendry, Baldock, Walsh, Coutts, Potter