Dons making the mark with slick play

Livewire: MK Dons winger Angelo Balanta, left, has already scored once in Sheffield this season and will be a dangerman tonight
Livewire: MK Dons winger Angelo Balanta, left, has already scored once in Sheffield this season and will be a dangerman tonight
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THEY may well have switched to a longer-ball game in the second half on Saturday but expect MK Dons to revert back to type against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane tonight.

Under their burgeoning young manager Karl Robinson - at 31, the youngest in the League - MK Dons have acquired a reputation as a footballing side with a short, quick passing style and an ability to retain possession and frustrate opponents.

Their goalless draw at home to Scunthorpe on Saturday was only the second time this season they have failed to score.

“We couldn’t get our three attacking players into the game and we had to go a little longer in the second half,” said Robinson, who never played in the Football League, was youth academy coach at Liverpool and then at Blackburn before becoming No 2 to Paul Ince at MK Dons. He then took over when only 29.

In going longer, Robinson put on the taller Jabo Ibehre to partner on loan Owls striker Clinton Morrison, at the same time taking off the smaller Dean Bowditch.

Morrison’s loan spell is over and he is back at Hillsborough but there will still be two others with Wednesday connections in the Dons line-up.

Central defender Mark Beevers is also on loan from Wednesday whilst midfielder Darren Potter left the Owls at the end of last season.

With Morrison returning to Sheffield, it is likely that Ibehre will come in to provide a physical presence up front.

He will partner Bowditch and the Colombian-born Angelo Balanta, a left-sided striker on loan from QPR, who scored on their other visit to Sheffield this season when they lost 3-1 across the city.

And he also has happy memories of the Blades - he scored his first goal for QPR against them at Loftus Road back in February 2008.

He has been in this country since he was a youngster and is eligible for English international honours.

Robinson admitted that his side didn’t deserve more than the point they got on Saturday.

“It wasn’t great and I’m not going to hide behind a point,” he said.

“But overall the first quarter of the season has been excellent. We’re sixth but after the start we had, then expectation levels had risen.”

They have slipped into a run of matches which has taken away from the top spots of League One.

Of their last nine games (eight in tjhe league and a Carling Cup tie) they have won only one of them - a 3-0 home win over Notts County. On the other hand they have shown a penchant for draws having drawn five of those nine. The last away game was a 2-1 defeat at Oldham.

BLADES (possible): Simonsen; Lowton, Maguire, Collins, Williams; Phillips, Montgomery, McDonald, Quinn; Evans, Clarke. (4-4-2).

MK DONS (possible): Martin; Smith, MacKenzie, Beevers, Lewington; Chadwick, Potter, Gleeson; Bowditch, Ibehre, Balanta.(4-3-3).

REF’S NAME: graham Salisbury (Preston)