Izale lays down a marker for Dons
KARL Robinson need wonder no longer how to fill the MK goal void left by Patrick Bamford – as Izale McLeod showed him the answer has been at the club all along.
McLeod bagged a brilliant double and also won the penalty that Ben Reeves slotted home as MK ended a run of three defeats on the bounce by stunning ten-man play-off chasers Walsall.
Dons have struggled to find the net since 17-goal Bamford’s loan spell ended with a switch to Derby but MK’s all-time leading scorer McLeod showed there is life after the Chelsea loanee.
And Robinson said:“In our hour of need, Izale’s come up trumps for us. It’s been difficult for him with Patrick scoring 17 goals, he’s had to wait his turn.
“Izale was a wonderful support mechanism for him. Patrick knew he had to keep scoring goals because Izale was always on his shoulder.
“The loan period at Northampton did Izale the world of good and he’s got the jersey for the foreseeable future, it’s up to him to keep it.
“But he’s got to train right. And he’s done that all week – I had no other choice to put him in because of his training. And he took his chance really, really well.”
McLeod wasted two early chances, drilling one wide and firing another straight at Richard O’Donnell, before sublimely chipping the Saddlers keeper to give MK a deserved 29th minute lead.
It was 2-0 just before the break as Reeves slotted home from the spot after McLeod was felled from behind by Saddlers skipper and last man Andy Butler, who was sent off
Walsall wasted a chance to get back in it as Paul Downing’s free header was straight at MK keeper David Martin and McLeod’s stunning finish from a tight angle sealed the win on 70 minutes.
And Walsall’s misery was compounded late on as Liverpool loanee Michael Ngoo won a penalty but the debutant saw his poor spotkick comfortably saved by Martin.
Walsall dropped out of the top six with the defeat and boss Dean Smith was unhappy with Butler’s red card.
He said:“If you go in 10 down at half-time and your captain is still there, you’ve got a chance– I think it was a penalty but I don’t think it is a sendingoff as McLeod is taking the ball away from goal.
“We didn’t play well in the first half and we deserved to be behind. It was much better in the second half.
“Whether the weather comes into it, I don’t know but I don’t want to make excuses. It was horrible out there but we were second best first half.”
STAR MAN IZALE MCLEO