WHATEVER Wednesday lack just now they are not short of zeal from their new manager.
Gary Megson had intended to sit by the pitch and mostly just observe the game.
The plan lasted “about eight seconds”, reflected Rob Kelly afterward, with a smile.
Megson was soon on his feet, yelling orders, and was an animated figure for the whole afternoon.
Maybe he would have been able to take it easier if the match had run smoothly and the Owls had delivered a winning performance on his debut.
But, with the team two down, it was in the privacy of the dressing room at half time where maybe he exerted his biggest influence.
He spoke to the players, made two substitutions and changed the formation, as a way of trying to break down the barrier of MK Dons’ 10 men.
Kelly, who had picked the starting line-up, confirmed: “He had a few words at half-time to point them in the right direction.
“I think the new manager is very passionate and made it clear how he wanted us to play and how he felt we could get back in the game. Credit to him, that’s exactly what happened.”
As Megson had arrived at Hillsborough only late Friday afternoon, team selection was left in Kelly’s hands, and the new boss did not meet the players until before the game. He introduced himself to them in the dressing room.
It was also decided before the match that Kelly and not Megson would do the post-match media duties.
Only today will the new boss be getting fully stuck into whatever it takes to revive the club’s League fortunes.
Wednesday currently do not look like promotion contenders. Once again they were unable to convincingly control a game, and the first half hour was a real anti-climax after all the buzz provided by Megson’s appointment.
Arron Jameson, making his home debut because Nicky Weaver failed a fitness test on a knee niggle, was unfortunate in having to make a difficult judgement call so early in the game.
A moment’s hesitation over a piercing through ball, with Keanu Marsh-Brown cutting inside Lewis Buxton, ended with the keeper conceding a penalty and getting away with a yellow card.
The ball was running slightly away from goal and there was some doubt whether Marsh-Brown would have caught it. Maybe that’s why the ref decided against a red card. MK Dons boss Karl Robinson said: “I thought the keeper should have gone.”
The second goal was a cracker from the Dons’ point of view: a one-two sent Marsh-Brown in behind Gary Teale to pull the ball back; Daniel Powell was unchallenged close to Daniel Jones and Reda Johnson as he guided his shot deftly into the bottom corner.
That made it 22 goals conceded in the last nine games, so it is not hard to see where a major problem lies.
Wednesday were also failing to shine in midfield at that point, and as a team they huffed and puffed.
Nevertheless the story of the first half was three missed chances, two for James O’Connor and one for Clinton Morrison, and two goals from only two real attacks by MK Dons.
After the first sending-off - a correct one for centre-half Gary MacKenzie for two bookings - just before half-time, the visitors made their intentions plain by pulling eight men behind the ball and leaving one up front.
Then Megson made his changes: Gary Madine and Teale taken off, Neil Mellor and Paul Heffernan sent on, and the 4-4-2 changed to 4-2-1-3.
O’Connor and Coke were the midfield players; Jermaine Johnson started the second half just behind a front three of Mellor, Morrison and Heffernan. But after around 12 minutes, Megson had Johnson and Heffernan swap roles.
Full-backs Buxton and Jones provided the attacking width, and centre-halves Johnson and Michael Johnson took care of the Dons’ lone striker.
Wednesday did not make a great start to the half but applied more and more pressure as the game wore on, and Mellor’s 14th goal of the season was a turning point, coming in the 69th minute, the same timing as the turning point at Peterborough - Darren Potter’s sending-off.
Coke made it with a positive run and an accurate pass, and Mellor’s finish was typical: a firm, sidefooted shot.
The equaliser was set up by Coke as well: his corner was headed on by Michael Morrison and volleyed home by his namesake - the striker’s 11th goal of the season.
MK Dons were trying grimly to hang on but it took a terrific save by Jameson, who pushed an effort by Dean Lewington on to the woodwork, to deny them a shock lead.
Once Peter Leven had been sent off for bringing down Jones and earning a second booking, in the 82nd minute, for the second successive home league game Wednesday were up against nine men in the closing stages and once again narrowly failed to make it count.
They should have had a penalty for a tackle by Adam Chicksen on Heffernan, and a great save by David Martin kept out a shot by Jermaine Johnson.
The crowd had no cause to be ecstatic at the end but there was some applause in recognition of the fightback and the effort put in by the players.
Now it is all about the future.
Kelly said he did not know what his held. Obviously a new manager usually means new staff.
Weaver should be fit for Saturday’s trip to Rochdale - the first of five successive away games.
Fans may also soon get their first glimpse of Isaiah Osbourne. The loan midfield signing was not involved at Peterborough because he had had only one training session.
Then he went down with a virus and missed training on Friday. He is expected back today.
We’re disappointed we didn’t win; credit to them when they went down to 10 men then nine.#
They sat in there and made it as difficult for us as they could.
It was chalk and cheese.
They got the early goal. Goals changes games. Then they got the second one and it was going
to be a difficult day.
In the second half we played with a a lot more energy, played the ball forward and got crosses and shots in.
The two sendings-off came about because of our good play.