Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Rolling Countryside To Stadium:MK
Last time we travelled to Stadium:MK I got as close as the front door before deciding I couldn't face the disappointment (at the time, if I remember correctly, we were hanging on by our fingernails to faint hopes of the play-off's). It was a good call, we lost 2-0. This time around I was far more confident we'd get a result, so headed out in to the warm afternoon, full of optimism.
Milton Keynes is only an hour away from my house, and what a pleasant drive it is. I can't think of another fixture that I could access via A-roads alone, with rolling countryside and woodland as my landscape along the entire 50 mile route. Even my sat nav seemed quite happy to avoid motorways. Furthermore, where else could you pull up your handbrake within 200 yards of a stadium on a matchday and park for free (for future reference, ASDA)? In fairness, the latter point is perhaps a lamentable juxtaposition of good v bad. After all, despite the welcome convenience of being able to park so close without charge it was because this is League One and we're playing MK Dons, who have no fans whatsoever.
Stadium:MK is certainly imposing given it's remote location, but it's far from impressive from the outside. The lack of cladding to the steel-framed structure gives it a half-finished, awkward feel. Inside it is a different story, where it is easily as good a stadium as you'll find in this country. A few years back I watched Bayern Munich play Munich 1860 in the hugely impressive Allianz Arena on the outskirts of...er, Munich...obviously, and Stadium:MK (or whatever they call it nowadays) reminded me of a smaller version of that in the way the concourse circumnavigates the entire stadium and has unrestricted views of the pitch (picture above). The sightlines are exceptional and the seats are massive and roomy. Shame there's no home fans to fill them. You do have to wonder if there will ever be a need for them to add seats to the top tear which remains out of use and set aside for future expansion.
We were poor in the first half, but credit must go to MK Dons for the way they passed quickly and pushed forward, mainly down our right as if targeting young Solly. They are a decent and capable side and have a bright young manager. I'd need to see the penalty again, but in real time I thought it looked clumsy and, as was the case Saturday, a needless challenge. In some respects, I was pleased we were only the one goal down at half time as it could have been worse. Thankfully the second 45 was better as we imposed ourselves on the game. Credit must go to Powell for recognising the two areas that needed improvement with the two attacking substitutions, whom combined to produce our equaliser. We could have gone on to win the game (Jackson's free header - which you'd have put your bloody mortgage on), but then we could have lost it as well.
This could well prove to be a very useful point come May.