Ha’way day delight for MK Dons as Russell Martin’s men came from behind to pick up their first league away win in fourteen months. Max Power’s deflected strike put the home side 1-0 up before Cameron Jerome’s glancing header meant that the sides went in level at half-time. Had fans been allowed in, many would have missed Power’s foul on Scott Fraser in the penalty area right at the start of the second half. It was a Stadium of Delight for Fraser as he fired the Dons ahead and on to victory: 2-1 to the men in black.
You would have been forgiven for not giving the men from MK much of a chance in this clash. Prior to this encounter, MK Dons had failed to break down an, albeit, stubborn Eastleigh side in the FA Cup just six days before and it took a penalty shoot-out for the League One side to advance on the South coast.
They had played more recently in a glorified friendly in the EFL Trophy. Seeing as Russell Martin’s side were already through, he handed out 5 debuts as his side went down 2-1 to Southampton U21s. In these last few games, the possession football that Martin had been employing was failing to break teams down and the thought of his players scoring 2 away at Sunderland seemed highly unlikely.
The game began in typical MK Dons of 20/21 fashion. The opposition were handed a head start as Max Power’s shot deflected past Andrew Fisher in the Dons net. At this stage, the notion of Russell Martin securing his first-ever away league win in management was hanging by a thin thread.
However, his side rallied and just four minutes later, unbelievably, MK Dons scored from a set-piece, as Cameron Jerome’s glancing header helped Ben Gladwin’s delivery on to the inside of Sunderland’s far post and in.
The first half slowed down after the quick flurry of goals and Max Power: Sunderland’s hero in the first half, swiped a clearance, at the start of the second half, and in trying to atone, felled Scott Fraser in the penalty area. Fraser: who scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out against Eastleigh last week, sent Remi Matthews the wrong way to complete the turnaround.
The goal seemed to come too early in the second half for the men from Stadium MK, as Sunderland ramped up the pressure. MK Dons have an inspired Andrew Fisher to thank, as the new first-choice shot-stopper bailed out his defenders on numerous occasions in the second period, denying Denver Hume multiple times.
They also have luck to thank, as former Don, Will Grigg missed with the goal three yards in front of him following great work by Lynden Gooch.
Carlton Morris was introduced in the 60th minute and the Norwich loanee was lucky not to be sent off after just three minutes on the pitch, following a rash tackle on Grant Leadbitter. The Dons’ number nine was fortunate to only be shown a yellow by referee Steve Martin.
Scott Fraser spurned a great chance one-on-one late on, as MK Dons’ only attack of note, following Fraser’s penalty, came on the counter and Remi Matthews did brilliantly to deny MK Dons’ talisman. As a result, the last few minutes were extremely uncomfortable viewing as it seemed that history would repeat itself.
When the board came up saying 5 minutes for stoppage time, many of the Cowshed faithful’s hearts would have been in mouths but Phil Parkinson’s side could not break through the stubborn MK Dons defence. With the final whistle came relief and celebration from Russell Martin and his players as MK Dons defeated a side who achieved a league double over them last term.