Anyway here we were on a lovely afternoon, which was lucky as there is no roof on the temporary away end, gazing out over a lovely green pitch – actually the grass was probably too long, but I expect the Dons can’t afford to mow it too often.
We lined up with Deadly Derek on his own up front , but with Hayter and Elliot pushing forward to join in – a sort of 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 formation which has often reverted to 4-5-1 away from DC in previous games.
The first 20 minutes or so felt like it was still pre-season with only a McLeod cross which Smart stooped to head wide and a bit of trickery from Wizard Wade (© P. Wicks) to disturb the slumbers.
However on 21 minutes Wade cut back a cross to the back stick and James Hayter ghosted in, ahead of his marker, to prod home – that’s the sort of wake up call the fans needed.
Cummings was also doing well as usual and despite the narrow pitch we looked quite good when playing down the flanks.
There was a tendency for Stock and Browning to get caught in possession too often, but with Fletcher-bach in there too we generally had enough.
The Don’t’s did have a chance to equalise when the ball dropped to Smart in the box, but he pulled his shot well wide, not troubling Moss into making a save.
A feature throughout the game was the running of Izale McLeod which was often followed by him collapsing in a heap unaided by Cherries tackles. He won a free-kick for treading on the ball at one stage!
Anyway a rare half-time lead. Many chose not to partake of the various refreshments and with a crowd of only 3230 it’s difficult to see how the Dons can survive. Everything is being pinned on the new stadium and work starts next month apparently. However, by the time it’s completed they could be in the Conference!
Interestingly a few ‘home’ fans chanted
For the second half we needed to start well and not let the Donuts back in - there’s a hole in the middle of this club where the heart used to be. And in WinkelWorld it’s always jam tomorrow or jam yesterday but never jam today.
So a good move down the right saw Brian Stock time his run to the near post nicely and steer his shot goalwards. Unfortunately it went straight into Rachubka’s hands when either side would have been a goal. The on-loan keeper punted the ball up-field – this Route One-ness being the only link with the glory days of the Crazy Gang – where Smart out-jumped Eddie (who looks like he needs a game or two) and set McLeod in on goal. Karl Broadhurst raced over with a desperation tackle which succeeded in preventing the shot, but only because he had whipped McLeod’s legs away – penalty, no question. Only debate was over the colour of the card Karl would get as last man – there was none! In fact Mr Curson only issued one card that I can remember to Marcus Browning for backchat later in the game.
Anyway Smart put away the pen although I think Mossy may have got a touch. (It’s actually a difficult seeing ground due to the lack of proper stands.)
After this disappointment it was important to pick up the tempo and we did just that. James Hayter turned his man on the edge of the box and hit a curler that beat Rachubka all-ends-up but came back out off the post.
Then Browning hit a great volley from a narrow angle to be denied by a fantastic save by the Charlton stopper as the pressure mounted.
There was just the danger of a break by McLeod or Wade Small to worry about, but we were beginning to take control with Browning and Fletcher gaining more space to play in midfield. Long raking passes to the wings held up in the lush grass or were generally killed by superb control from Hayter and Elliot and with the midfield getting into the box we looked likely to score. And we did so on 76 minutes when a perfected slotted though ball from Browning was put away under the advancing keeper by the outstanding Hayter. The Donuts wilted…
At this point a word on Holmes – yes he was off-the-pace and his positioning wasn’t all it could be, but it doesn’t help when fans lay into him so strongly. His chief crime on the day seemed to be not being Alan Connell who was on the bench – more about that story later. And he was playing on his own for most of the time which is never easy.
So Sean O’D, being Sean O’D, took off a midfielder (Stock) and brought on Sean Maher a few minutes after the second goal. Maher for Howe could have been a move made earlier as Sean M is better in the air and would’ve handled Smart better on the day. Eddie stayed on and Karl pushed forwards into a holding midfield position.
A few minutes after this Connell replaced Holmes and this did galvanise the side. Connell chased everything and linked up play well – sometimes he comes on and doesn’t channel his energy well, but with only 6 or 7 minutes today he made the most of them.
Hayter and Cummings were causing all sorts of problems on the left as were Elliott and Young on the right. Kamara came on for the home team and looked briefly threatening - one cross caused mayhem with Howe nodding against the bar and McLeod putting the rebound over the empty net off the top of the bar. Shocking miss!
The icing on the cake came in injury time. Somehow Hayter controlled a long pass, somehow he beat his man, got to the by-line, looked up and saw Cherry-red shirts racing up to support. His cutback to Connell gave Alan the opportunity for a strike, albeit with a defender in close attendance, but a superb step-over left Carl with the easiest of chances which he took with aplomb, rolling his shot into the far corner.
The home fans left in their droves... Now you could laugh at this point and many of us did, but there is a serious point here: people in MK have been let down by Franchise FC. They have been promised a team worthy of support, a team worthy of promoting the good name of MK and for all the jibes MK is a fine place to live - maybe not as good as
What they have been saddled with is a discredited, underfunded club, possibly heading for back-to-back relegations and the disillusionment is about to set in big time.
OK you don’t care.
So, back to our club and our prospects. A welcome away win today, but without SuperFletch can we challenge or will we struggle? All will be revealed…….
James Hayter – superb general control, finishing and overall play – he just keeps getting better.
AFCB: Moss, Young, Cummings, Howe, Broadhurst, Elliott, Browning, C Fletcher, Stock, Hayter, Holmes
Subs: Stewart, O'Connor, Maher (on for Stock 81), Connell (on for Holmes 84), Coutts
Ray Brown, Olney, Greater Milton Keynes!