Staying the same is paying off for MK Dons
Consistency will always be key for any successful team, and Paul Tisdale appears to have found formula to keep MK Dons winning of late.
Three wins in a row in League 2 has seen Dons go from 13th in the table to fourth, back into contention for the automatic promotion spots. The difference between the team which beat Port Vale at the beginning of the streak and the team which beat Cambridge is just one player - Kieran Agard out, Rhys Healey in.
With Tisdale's squad larger than even he anticipated heading into the season, the various combinations he tinkered with in defence, midfield and attack look like coming to fruition. Tisdale though remains low-key. "There's a lot of risk management, and you have to be a slight pessimist too, so I'm not going to get too carried away yet."
He may not be, but it is the first time since May 2015 and that historic promotion winning streak that Dons can boast three consecutive league wins. They have a striker in Chuks Aneke firing on all cylinders as he netted his seventh in eight games and a defence with three clean sheets to go along with the nine points picked up along the way. Tisdale is also missing two players he deemed key to his midfield in the build up to the season - Conor McGrandles and Peter Pawlett - who remain long term absentees.
What perhaps is most telling is the formation. While the personnel have chopped and changed prior to the recent run, Tisdale has stuck to a back three/five which his two predecessors tried to no avail. Robbie Neilson first toyed with the idea of a back three, but he, like Dan Micciche afterwards, found himself short of personnel to play it effectively. Jordan Moore-Taylor looks every bit the key signing of the summer thus far at the heart of the defence, while Joe Walsh is having his most consistent run since arriving at Stadium MK in 2015 and Baily Cargill has continued to impress since his arrival from Bournemouth. Highly rated defender Mathieu Baudry has struggled with injury and has barely been seen so far, though his seven minute cameo away at Crewe did see him sent off.
Ultimately, it will be consistency which either makes or breaks Dons this season. If they can remain resolute and stingy at the back, while taking their chances when they come along,
If there is to be any criticism aimed at Dons of late, it has been the lack of goals from other areas of the pitch. Strikers have scored the last 13 goals for Dons, but with no goals coming from the midfield or defence, it only added to the second half nerves felt at the Abbey Stadium on Saturday as Dons defended their single-goal lead against Cambridge. That being said, a glut of goals from four front men is a new and welcomed 'problem' for Dons fans.