Empty feeling in arena with more gaps than fans

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MY first visit with Wednesday to stadiummk (yes it is a football ground and not a Russian ice rink) was a strange affair.

The main entrance doubles as reception for a posh hotel that occupies one side of the ground.

In the arena, there are 22,000 seats but only 9,776 were filled for the match.

There were so many large gaps in the stands that, despite the noise made by an away following of 2,404, MK’s biggest of the season, there was little atmosphere, at a big game between the fourth and fifth teams in the division.

The game was not terribly exciting - though I do not make light of the vigour shown by Wednesday.

The only goals scored were own goals, and then we had the extraordinary incident involving Karl Robinson.

I’ve known a player push a referee before now but not a manager manhandle an opposition player.

Apart from trying in vain to keep warm on an exceptionally cold night, I also got to wondering how some clubs manage to survive and thrive on the attendances they get.

Bloomfield Road was a sell-out for last Saturday’s FA Cup tie; the attendance was the stadium’s best of the season, only 14,042. But they are all right: they’ve got the money and squad that come from having been in the Premier League

Dons’ average of just over 8,000 is still the sixth best in the the division.

Wednesday are fortunate, by comparision. They have also used home advantage well. To have lost only once at Hillsborough, and to the leaders, is some record - and one that should survive the visit of Yeovil tomorrow. I say ‘should’, because you can never be complacent. A year ago, the transfer window had closed with the Owls having made five signings in January; they were 12th in the table, with hopes of a rejuvenated promotion challenge under the new era of Milan Mandaric.

But the team faltered, Alan Irvine lost his job, and Gary Megson came in to start his reconstruction job.

It is a pity that the Owls were unable to keep Ben Marshall. It would have been great if the club had been able to do even more than make Miguel Llera and Stephen Bywater full signings, buy Mike Jones for £75,000 and take John Bostock on loan.

But I guess that once Leicester had forced their way to the front of the queue, Marshall was never coming back. Who can blame him if he was attracted by Championship football and wages.

Marshall was a bit of an unknown quantity when the Owls signed him. Bostock is something similar. On Tuesday, he showed signs of expertise, composure, and a deft left foot.

If you haven’t yet seen the goal that Gary Madine was talking about - Bostock’s longe range strike for Hull - it can be seen on YouTube. An absolute stunner, against Swansea in August, 2010.

The lad should not be expected to do that sort of thing every week!

I am sure that Stephen Bywater will not be scoring many more own goals. He was dead unlucky at MK Dons and couldn’t do anything about it. The ball hit the bar, came down behind him, hit the back of his leg and went in.

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