Work to do for Paul Tisdale as MK Dons look to bounce back
Bury beaten by last-gasp Ousseynou Cisse goal
Sky Bet League Two
MK Dons 1 Bury 0
MK Dons owner Pete Winkelman admitted in his programme notes that mistakes had been made at the club - they have suffered two relegations in three years - when he wrote: "I will admit we have often lost sight of the here and now, while looking too much towards our ambitions and dreams."
The stadium could easily accommodate Premier League football and after Karl Robinson departed in November 2016 Winkelman was aiming for the Premier League, but those lofty targets have been replaced by a more realistic aspiration - getting out of Sky Bet League Two.
It was a message repeated throughout the club as new manager Paul Tisdale said before his home debut, a scrappy 1-0 win over Bury which was barely deserved: "There is no point having a great vision for the future if you aren't winning matches, so our first priority has to be to stop the wheels going backwards."
To that extent Tisdale can be pleased with his start.
The Dons have two wins from two games as they followed a gritty 2-1 victory over Oldham with a last-gasp success against the Shakers as substitute Ousseynou Cisse broke Bury's hearts.
Improvement will be needed to justify MK Dons' position as one of the market leaders, a point acknowledged by Tisdale afterwards as he spoke of "not being particularly fluent with the ball", "lots of mistakes" and, most tellingly of all, "a lot of work still to do".
But the Dons have the right man to get through the work. After 12 relatively successful years at Exeter, Tisdale now has the budget and a more beneficial location to attract players to his club.
Tisdale was known as a tinkerer in his time in Devon, often changing formations throughout a match, and he did just that in this clash, originally matching up to Bury's three-man defence before a half-time change to a 4-3-1-2 shape.
Milton Keynes started the better side and were particularly threatening from set-pieces as Joe Walsh saw his header tipped on to the bar and fellow centre-back Jordan Moore-Taylor also gained first contact on a couple of deliveries with both men entering the first-goalscorer notebook for future matches.
However, Bury soon gained control of the match and caused a number of dangerous situations as the last-ditch Dons desperately defended with crucial blocks. Nicky Adams' free kick hit the bar and the Shakers were the better side heading into the break.
Tisdale's original thinking was presumably to outnumber Bury's two central midfielders with the aim of releasing Alex Gilbey between the lines, or if one of the Bury centre-backs stepped out to engage the playmaker there would be space in behind for speedsters Kieran Agard and 17-year-old debutant Dylan Asonganyi to exploit.
It did not work. There was no lack of effort but the strikers rarely combined and Gilbey struggled to make an impact behind the forwards in the 3-4-1-2 formation.
MK Dons failed to put together any meaningful patterns of play after the break either and a Ryan Watson free kick, excellently saved by Joe Murphy, was as close as the hosts came to breaking the deadlock.
The game was drifting towards a stalemate until Tisdale, always thinking and always tinkering, pushed sub Cisse behind the front two instead of his usual defensive midfield position and the Mali international connected with a George Williams centre to win the game.
There is work to be done, but Tisdale is the right man to get the Dons back on the right path.
Defeat was harsh on Bury, who had been relegated alongside their hosts last season but received little in the way of fanfare when it came to picking ante-post promotion contenders.
On this evidence, however, they should not be too far off the top seven and odds of 2-1 for them to at least nab a playoff spot are appealing.
Ryan Lowe's men set up in a 5-2-2-1 formation with Adams and Danny Mayor buzzing off Chris Dagnall and they were difficult to contain, particularly with Neil Danns breaking from midfield.
Mayor was the standout player, particularly in the first half, with virtually all of Bury's ace attacking play coming down his side. He continually had the beating of the Dons defenders and should get his fair share of goals this season.
Perhaps the key moment of the game came late in the first half when Tim Miller went off injured, forcing Lowe into a change of shape.
Adams dropped into Miller's wing-back position and the powerful Gold Omotayo joined Dagnall in attack but the extra striker saw them lose control of midfield.
The Shakers still rarely looked like losing in what will be one of their most difficult fixtures of the season and they could quite easily be a playoff side. Lowe was correct when he said: "If we continue to play like that, then we’ll be okay."
Teams - MK Dons 3-4-1-2: Nicholls; Williams, Moore-Taylor, Walsh; Brittain (Harley 79), Watson (Cisse 61), Houghton, Lewington; Gilbey; Asonganyi (Simpson 67), Agard.
Bury 5-2-2-1: Murphy; Miller (Omotayo 41), Aimson, O'Connell, Thompson, Stokes; Styles, Danns; Adams, Mayor (O'Shea 76); Dagnall (Telford 61).
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