Dons registered their first win of the season on Saturday, beating Crewe Alexandra 1-0 at stadium:mk.
Patrick Bamford’s neat tap in after Jason Banton did all the hard work on the left flank was enough to see off the Railwaymen, though Dons had the better of the chances to put the game to rest.
It was a young side which took to the pitch for the first home game of the season. Dean Lewington missed out through injury, forcing Tuesday’s goalscorer Ben Reeves to start at left back, while George Baldock was handed a start at right midfield. Dons confirmed the loan of Aston Villa’s Samir Carruthers on Saturday morning, and he made the substitutes bench.
The opening 15 minutes fairly zipped passed without much incident, but it went all the home sides way. Patrick Bamford had two half-decent attempts on goal but put both wide of the mark - the first a smooth move which involved Dele Alli and Stephen Gleeson in the build up before his strike was off target, the second a thumping volley from the edge of the box .
But with his third attempt 19 minutes in, he netted the opener. Jason Banton stood up against Kelvin Mellor before quickly darting past him to the by-line. There, he had the simple task of picking out Bamford racing into the six-yard box and he tapped in from barely a yard to give the home side a deserved lead.
From there, while it remained comfortable for the home side, there wasn’t much of a chance for them to double the lead. Bamford eyed a few more goals for himself and tried his arm from nearly 35 yards but saw another just wide, while Shaun Williams had Alan Martin at full stretch from his free kick, again missing the upright.
There wasn’t much to take from the half from a Crewe perspective though, the linesman at least getting to use his flag a few times in the first half while David Martin’s gloves remained in near-mint condition.
Dons could have been through on goal but for a poor piece of decision making from Bamford just three minutes before the break. Potter intercepted a ball in the centre and sent the Chelsea loanee through. With Alli marked by two on his right and an unmarked Banton on his left, Bamford opted for Alli, leaving a frustrated Banton left with his arms out wide wondering what he needed to do to get the ball.
Robinson’s half time message must have been to make the keeper work after Baldock sent a volley wide on the stroke of half time - while they had the lion share of the ball, their shots were off-target and never going to make Alan Martin work.
And Darren Potter certainly looked to have hit the target two minutes after the restart only for a brilliant block from the Crewe defence. Williams stood over another free kick and sent Alan Martin the other way to his first half strike, diving to his right to keep it out. But he could only parry to Bamford, who picked out Potter in the centre and while his strike looked to be heading in, Kelvin Davis got the final touch to put it wide and out for a corner.
And the miss could have proved costly when Crewe won a free kick 25 yards out, and Max Clayton found an unmarked Harry Davis 15 yards out. But the defender’s header was wide - a huge let off for the Dons defence.
The young front quartet were enjoying a good time of things in the attacking third, but decision making again would prevent them from taking a two goal lead on the hour mark. Banton raced clear, but with unmarked Alli in support, the winger opted to hold on to the ball and cut inside onto his right foot, before losing out to Davis.
Robinson brought on experienced heads Luke Chadwick and Izale McLeod in the latter stages, taking off Banton and Bamford as they looked to close out the game. McLeod should have scored within moments of coming on too, but despite making a break beyond the defence, he waiting too long to pull the trigger, getting tackled before he could shoot.
Crewe had a series of half chances towards the end of the game, but Ryan Colclough squandered the best of them, going down lightly under pressure from Antony Kay, getting rough-housed by David Martin as they pair went for the bouncing ball and then forcing the keeper into a fine one-handed stop from eight yards.
It was backs to the wall for a while for Dons, and Michael West almost scored the equaliser in the 90th minute but his powerful strike was straight at David Martin, who saw it late.
McLeod had another effort just wide of the mark for the home side, but Bamford’s first half goal turned out to be enough for Dons to register their first victory of the season.
Referee: Rob Lewis
Attendance: 6,911 (349)
MK Dons: Martin, Hodson, Reeves, Kay, Williams, Potter, Gleeson, Alli, Banton (Chadwick 68), Baldock, Bamford (McLeod 82)
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Otsemobor, Flanagan, Chadwick, Smith, Carruthers
Crewe Alexandra: Alan Martin, Tootle, Mellor, Davis, Clayton (Turton 68), Osman, Leitch-Smith (Oliver 68), Ray, Aneke, Colclough, Grant (West 74)
Subs not used: Phillips, Ellis, Dugdale, Robertson
Booked: Davis, Alli