It was hardly unexpected that Latics lost 2-0 at Milton Keynes Dons in their opening npower League One match of the season.
In recent years stadium:mk has proved a graveyard and yet again they left empty handed, albeit by a smaller margin than last season’s five-goal defeat.
Goals from Darren Potter and Daniel Powell earned the Dons victory as they showed why they are one of the favourites to win promotion.
Latics fell some way short and the next league games at home to Walsall and Stevenage will surely provide more of a barometer as to where Latics are at the moment.
Manager Paul Dickov believed his side contributed to their own downfall saying: “We knew it was a tough start and they are rightly one of the favourites to go up.
“You have to help yourself and the two goals we conceded were very poor.
“At places like this you have to start properly, but we sat off them too much and gave away the ball too much in the first half.
“We played well in spells in the second half and created a few chances. We are not too despondent as we knew it was a tough place to come to.”
Latics’ preparations had been disrupted after James Wesolowski was injured yesterday in training. This saw Youssouf M’Changama switch to the centre of midfield while new-signing Cristian Montano was handed his debut on the left.
On a baking hot afternoon, Latics more than matched Dons in a low-key opening in which both sides cancelled out the other.
The deadlock was broken in the 34th minute when Potter was left unmarked to head home a Dean Bowditch corner.
Latics were lucky not to be further behind at the break as the Dons had two further clear-cut chances.
Ryan Lowe found himself through on goal only to shoot narrowly wide when you would have expected him to find the net.
The dangerous Powell, who was rightly named man of the match, saw a shot from the right of the box hit the crossbar as the hosts ended the half in the ascendency.
M’Changama and Robbie Simpson had chances early in the second half to put Latics on level terms.
They were to prove costly misses as Dons rode their luck before striking again just short of the hour.
Powell made a weaving run from deep before crashing home an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
Latics made their first change midway through the second period when Connor Hughes replaced Montano and he eclipsed the new signing with an impressive cameo.
Simpson thought he had halved the deficit when he found the net with a near-post shot from a Lee Croft cross only for the goal to be ruled out by a referee’s assistant who flagged for offside. It was a mighty close call.
Latics’ keeper Alex Cisak
prevented a heavier margin of defeat as he made three terrific saves late on.
First he athletically tipped over a rocket shot from substitute Jabo Ibehre and then he made a brilliant double save to deny Jay O’Shea and Charlie McDonald.
By contrast Latics failed to work home keeper David Martin, though in the dying minutes he had to be alert to claw a shot from Jonathan Grounds to safety.
There was a flashpoint at the final whistle when home central defender Antony Kay was sent off following a clash with Simpson.
Ironically the pair, not long ago team mates at Huddersfield Town, are good mates but it showed the passion and emotion football can provoke, even amongst friends.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Chicksen, MacKenzie, Kay, Lewington; Potter, Chadwick (Smith 81); Powell, O’Shea, Bowditch (MacDonald 65); Lowe (Ibehre 76). Subs (not used): McLoughlin, Otsemobor, Alli, Galloway.
Latics (4-4-2): Cisak; Byrne, Tarkowski, M’voto, Grounds; Croft, Furman, M’Changama, Montano (Hughes 65); Simpson, Slew (Taylor 80). Subs (not used): Brown, Bouzanis, Smith, Millar, Winchester.
The goals: Potter (34), Powell (59) for Dons.
Sending off: Kay (90+5) for Dons.
Bookings: MacKenzie (29), Chadwick (58), Smith (90+5) for Dons. Simpson (55), Furman (90+3) for Latics.
Referee: Mr I Williamson (Berkshire).
Attendance: 7,409 (512 visitors).