MK Dons continued their concerning league form as they stumbled to a draw against ten-man Scunthorpe. The visitors twice came from behind with goals from Kieran Agard and Chuks Aneke, equalising from goals by Hakeeb Adelukan and Kevin van Veen.
MK Dons League Form Continues to Concern Despite Fight Display
One Point Gained or Two Points Lost?
League position would indicate that this should be considered one point gained for Robbie Neilson’s side. Scunthorpe, in fifth before kick-off, unsurprisingly took the lead when Adelukan tapped them into the lead. The Dons have been fairly resilient on the road of late, and this was evident again when Kieran Agard scored his third league goal of the season after a slow start.
Kevin van Veen restored the hosts’ lead within two minutes of the equaliser, but the game turned when the home side had Neal Bishop sent off for an elbow on Aneke. Aneke made Scunthorpe pay in the second half, netting his fourth league goal of the season from Ed Upson’s free-kick to level the scores once again.
While Scunthorpe were sat in the play-off places before today’s game, the Dons were languishing precariously above the relegation zone. They have not won in the league in over a month, with their last success a 1-0 win over Fleetwood on November 11th. With this being the case, it seems likely that this game would be considered one point gained.
This game, though, saw the Dons battle hard; something that has been missing from their game for a while. The draw tears up the form book and stretched the home side’s winless run to four. Although the Dons are in a rut themselves, they should see this as one point gained. If they can carry that fight into the coming games, they could see themselves moving up the league.
Long Winless Runs
Despite a number of strong performances, notably the game today as well as away at Charlton, what will be concerning is the lack of wins that MK Dons have picked up.
If you were to look at a list of results, it would not look so concerning as the Dons only have two losses in their last ten in all competitions. When you consider, though, that two of those wins were against non-league opposition in the FA Cup as well as a win in the controversial Checkatrade Trophy, it looks slightly more concerning.
Before the win against Fleetwood in early November, their last league win came away at Bury in September. This form of just two league wins in two and a half months is poor for a team of MK Dons’ quality. It’s especially poor when Robbie Neilson’s target for the season was automatic promotion.
What Would be a Realistic Target?
League One is always tight, and things can change dramatically in the space of a few games. In that case, a genuine aspirational target for MK Dons could be the play-offs. It wouldn’t be a case of going on a ten game winning streak and staying firmly in those positions as the season peters out. It would more be a case of fighting their way up the league and potentially nicking a spot within the last couple of games.
That would be an aspiration, though. It’s not impossible, but the likelihood is that the Dons will need to settle for another season in mid-table. This wouldn’t be a disaster, but it would probably be enough for Neilson to keep his job and draft a better plan for the next campaign.
To achieve this mid-table finish though, he will need to do some recruiting in January. Despite the upturn in form from Agard and the return of Sow, the Dons lack a regular goal-scorer. They have plenty of players that can create the chances, but conversion has been a problem for a number of seasons. If there is no recruitment in the upcoming window, then it will be down to Neilson to motivate his side to get to a respectable position; far more respectable than they are in now.