Wednesday's cup win was a pleasing diversion but today we're back to the rough and tumble of League One. If we win, it might give Jack Ross a stay of execution but it's clear he's lost the support of the vast majority of the fans. I think we will win actually especially if we include Lynch and De Bock, who both put in very solid displays on their debuts the other night. Burge also emerged with considerable credit and though I've been very pleased with McLaughlin since he arrived – he's been so much better than the shite he replaced – it wouldn't do any harm to keep him on his toes by giving Burge a run out in a league game every now and again. M.K. Dons don't seem to go in for draws as they've won four and lost five of their nine games so far but they've lost their last two. I don't know any definite team news yet but it'd be great if McNulty was fit again and Power's tremendous winner should give him the boost he's needed to get back to his original form and I hope he starts too. Having finally managed a clean sheet on Wednesday, let's do it again today. It'll be SAFSEE for me again this afternoon and my match prediction is a 2-0 win for us.
When I got the team news at 2 o'clock (from the ALS Facebook page of course) I was pleased to see De Bock, Lynch and Power were all starting but both McGeady and McNulty were out injured. I tuned into SAFSEE and I could hear our fans were in good voice. We kicked off attacking the Roker End and there were cries of “Shooooot!” as soon as Power got the ball. We did most of the early pressing without creating any real chances and M.K. Dons were defending in depth. By the fifteenth minute nothing much had happened and things had gone quiet. Then M.K. won their first corner and McLaughlin failed to deal decisively with it before it went for another corner. We won our first corner in the twenty-third minute and Power's low shot was blocked – well, it was a bit of excitement at least.
A minute or so later it was 1-0 and it was Power again who smashed in another great shot from around twenty yards out after Wyke had rolled the ball to him. Commentators Barnes and Bennett both said it was even better than Wednesday's goal. Very soon an O'Nien header was put out for a corner via the post and the atmosphere had changed completely. Another header by O'Nien was well saved by Lee Nicholls in goal and things were sounding well tasty. There was no stopping O'Nien as he was right back again to lob the goalie and though it was booted out from around the goal-line, the ref gave the goal and the place was rocking. There's surely no doubt now that O'Nien is even more of an asset in his new position. With ten minutes to the break it felt, as much as it can feel with us, that the match was in the bag but I thought we could get another before too long. Gooch had a good attempt to get that third goal but he stumbled and his shot went just outside the right post. Kasumu, who'd only been on for ten minutes or so, escaped with a yellow when he'd apparently raised his hands and Power got one for good measure for debating the issue. A chorus of, “You're not fit to referee!” directed at Paul Marsden seemed entirely appropriate. Anyway, it remained 2-0 when the break finally arrived and after a lacklustre first quarter things had brightened up considerably in the second.
As we kicked off again I remained confident that we'd win and I could see M.K. going down to ten men as Kasumu had done a bit of shoving before he got his card. I felt that we'd get another goal as our tails were up and O'Nien seemed the likeliest scorer. We started again brightly with a corner followed by a free-kick at the edge of their box for a foul on Gooch but Maguire's kick went over the bar. Next thing a Power shot was tipped away for another corner. Maguire got a yellow card and Benno reckoned Ross would take him off soon before he got a red as he was looking frustrated. M.K. pulled one back when John McLaughlin was caught in No Man's Land and following a bundle on the line the ball went in and it was later awarded to Williams. There was still half an hour or more to go and that goal put a much different complexion on the game. McLaughlin had to save at the feet of Bowery and Benno said we really needed to freshen the side up with a sub or two as we were looking leggy. In the sixty-third minute Hume duly came on for De Bock who presumably wasn't fully up to speed yet. O'Nien set up a great chance for Maguire who should've done better than to put it wide from ten yards out. We enjoyed a spell of pressure, our first for a while, and that soothed my nerves a little. M.K. were soon putting pressure on again and it was time for another sub before we conceded a second. A Rotherham match feeling was definitely in the air and that fifteen minutes to go seemed an awful long time. M.K. brought on their third sub and then we replaced Wyke with Grigg with around ten minutes to go. He got a good cheer and that was the most noise our fans had made for a fair while. We were playing really deep and I had to get up and starting pacing around, dead-leafing plants and doing anything to kill the time. I thought there'd be a good deal of stoppage-time and then six minutes were announced. Could we hold on? We should never have put ourselves in such a position. We brought on Dobson for Gooch but there was little let up in tension especially when they won a corner in the last ten seconds. O'Nien headed it away and the whistle mercifully went.
A win's a win so we must be happy but again we failed to really kill the game off and we had to endure such turmoil... Anyway, see you at Lincoln.