Another Good December As MK Dons March On
Rewind a month. Roberto Di Matteo won manager of the month for November and things were looking pretty peachy for MK Dons, as they just moved into the promotion places at the expense of Millwall.
This was going to be a huge month though, facing three fellow promotion chasers in Scunthorpe, Leeds, and Brighton, and they were going to have to do it without talisman Dean Lewington after he suffered an ankle injury.
First up was Scunny, and despite improving after a slow start MK fell victim to two late goals from Ian Morris and Garry Thompson as it was The Iron who travelled home with three points. The Dons winning run came to an abrupt end.
Only six days later Di Matteo's men were back in action as the game against Brighton came on a Friday—something to do with football fans causing mayhem with the Park and Ride system during the busy Christmas time.
Did it affect the Dons? Did it heck. Despite Bradley Johnson netting on three minutes for Albion it was the Dons who dominated the game, and Miguel Angel Llera headed home through a cascade of bodies to equalize before the half hour mark.
Fans barely had time to take their seats after the break before Jemal Johnson, finally finding form, hit the back of the net beautifully.
It was three twenty minutes later courtesy of Peter Leven scoring on the break, and when Stuart Fleetwood gave Brighton an avenue back into the game with a goal on 88 minutes, Jason Puncheon served up the perfect response minutes later to finish the game at 4-2 Dons.
Fans packed out stadium:MK the following weekend for the big one, hosting Leeds United. In front of 16,000 fervent fans the Dons were brilliant.
Despite Leeds missing a sitter just two minutes in, the Dons were fantastic throughout and were 2-0 up after less than quarter of an hour into the fixture.
Sean O'Hanlon's excellent low header from a Johnson corner put the Dons one up before a scramble as a result of another corner gave Wilbraham a simple finish to make it two.
Leeds clawed one back just after the break through Robert Snodgrass, but Johnson provided a third goal and second for Wilbraham not ten minutes later to comfortably win the tie.
Boxing Day was the pick of the bunch, a trip to Bristol Rovers. The Memorial Stadium, filled to capacity, went quiet early on as MK took the lead through that man Wilbraham again, but Kuffour responded quickly for the hosts—who began to take the initiative.
The impressive Kuffour drew foul upon foul, and it was no surpise when Llera was dismissed on the 35 minute mark for a foul on the small striker.
Despite the one man disadvantage the Dons held on til half-time, and whatever Di Matteo said then, it worked wonders.
MK Dons came out with fire in their belly, and when they took the lead on the hour it was a surprise to nobody. Jemal Johnson flighted in a beautiful ball which Rovers' defender Byron Anthony could only divert into his own net.
MK held on to take the three points with a 2-1 win. The last game of December was at Stadium:MK against a Southend side in poor form, and Dean Lewington's return gifted the Dons a clean sheet.
No surprises again, O' Hanlon gave MK the perfect start after just nine minutes with yet another graceful near post header, whilst Sammy Baldock ended his goal drought with a majestic 30-yard free-kick.
The Dons defence must have read Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" this month, after the usually stingy back-four was overly generous this month.
The attackers aren't going to bail them out every week and if this good form is going to continue then hopes perhaps rest with Lewington to bring clean sheets back with him after his return this week.
Di Matteo has been rewarded with a new contract for his efforts so far this season, and long may this good form continue.
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