I'm expecting us to win today. In more than fifty-five years of going to the match I've experienced several great resurgences including the dramatic turnaround at the beginning of 1977, which in the end wasn't quite good enough to save us from the drop, and in 2006 just after Roy Keane took the helm. Wherever this current mini-revival takes us it's certainly a million times better than getting beat at Gillingham and looking in complete disarray. Of course, the Dons may produce a shock and beat us but I can't see it. It'll be good to see Lafferty come on at some point, as seems likely, and show us what he can do. If we can get £4 million for Grigg, it'll be an excellent bit of business but surely that won't happen. I'll be at the game and am about to set off to Euston to get the train. Apart from Lafferty I don't think there's going to be any significant change to our winning line-up unless there's a suspension or injury that's passed me by. The Dons are sixth off bottom but they've had a decent run of late too so it's going to be a humdinger. Match prediction: 3-1 to us.
The stadium is a very long way from Milton Keynes Central and I wasn't sure of how to get there but after spotting a few of the faithful at a bus stop we were soon on our way band shooting the breeze. After what felt like two hundred roundabouts we at the ground and I was in our end slurping a Beck's. My seat was near the corner flag and almost at pitch level so not the best of angles but as I was in the second row and the man in front was sitting down I had the option of sitting down too – posh, eh? You could buy tickets for our end on the day and there was a very good turnout of our fans but large empty areas elsewhere including most of the upper tier. Both Lynch and Dobson were starting for us but the subs weren't announced so that left a bit of a mystery, for me at any rate.
The Dons edged the first-half in terms of attacking play, winning six corners to none for us, but they only created one real chance when Healey hit a low shot just wide of our left hand post in the twenty-third minute. They were cutting down our left side with ominous regularity and Lewington was looking tricksy. Repeated chants of, “You fat bastard” had no visible effects on his play. We did muster a few attempts of our own with a good shot from Maguire sailing just over the bar early on and a nice move from a free-kick that was headed back across goal by O'Nien but the final shot, from Wyke I think, was poor and trickled wide. There was some unusual argy-bargy among a couple of our fans midway through the half and the intervention of some stewards seemed to have calmed things down but as soon as they were gone the pair were at it again. “Brexit means Brexit!” one of them kept repeating and the stewards had to intervene again. Next time I looked there was an empty space where the two of them had been. Back on the pitch the Dons were playing it rough with Houghton being lucky to avoid a red card for a very dirty tackle early on. Dobson got a yellow himself midway through. It remained goalless at the break and it had been a lacklustre display from us. We just hadn't mustered the kind of attacking play we'd shown in recent games and there'd been too many back-passes to McLaughlin. But as a bloke behind me said, “Anyway, at least we're not getting' beat.”
Whatever Parky said to them at the break had clearly worked well as we looked like a different side in the second half. We won five corners in fifteen minutes and one of them came when a Wyke shot had been cleared off the line. We had two corners in quick succession and after the assistant ref had flagged that the second one was a goal-kick, clearly not noticing that the ref had indicated a corner, Maguire made the VAR sign and smiled at him before taking the kick. The game was being played at a frenetic pace but their goalie, Nicholls, had a different agenda and was clearly playing for time from early in the half. In the sixty-fifth minute it looked like we'd scored from a free-kick on the left but O'Nien's header had hit the side-netting. Ozturk was yellow-carded a few minutes later and then the crowd was announced – 13,327. We still hadn't made any changes with fifteen minutes left but then a buzz went around as we saw Lafferty was about to come on. He replaced Wyke to much applause and almost scored with his first touch but his shot went just over the bar. That would've been too much to hope for but we didn't have to wait long for a goal as Gooch scored with a wonderful effort a minute later. He was buzzing around on the right angle of their box and seemed to have missed the chance to make a telling pass but suddenly he was on another run before smashing a great shot into the top left corner. Tremendous joy erupted all around me as the players raced into our corner to be mobbed by fans who'd hopped the barrier and all of this in a cloud of red firework smoke. Lafferty looked athletic and his height should be an asset. I thought Ozturk was going to make it 2-0 in the eighty-fourth but his header from a cross went narrowly over. Four minutes of stoppage-time were announced and the Dons made a grandstand finish, winning three corners, but we held tight and there was much rejoicing when that whistle finally went.
After a below par first session we did what we had to do in the second with a much more tenacious performance and claimed a deserved victory. Four wins out of the last five and undefeated in seven – what can I say but, “Parkinson in!”