Dons put in arguably their best performance of the league season in overturning a strong Swindon side to win 2-1 and move up to third in League 1.
Dons found themselves behind just six minutes in when Jonathan Obika was left free at the far post to rocket home Michael Smith’s square across the face. Dons would have to wait until the second half to get back on level terms, and they did so through Dele Alli.
And it wasn’t long before they were in front as Antony Kay fired in from close range to put Dons ahead. It sparked a fascinating final half hour at stadium:mk, with both sides having chances to net before the end.
There were two changes to the Dons side which started against Sheffield United in the Capital One Cup in midweek - Samir Carruthers dropped to the substitutes bench to be replaced by Daniel Powell, while Antony Kay replaced the impressive Tom Flanagan at the heart of the defence. Swindon boss Mark Cooper named an unchanged side to the one which beat Chesterfield 3-0 on Tuesday night.
And they carried their fine form into the game at stadium:mk, opening the scoring after just six minutes. Dons lost the ball carelessly in midfield, and allowed Michael Smith to break at pace down the left flank. With Dean Lewington out of position, Smith was given time to pull the ball back to Jonathan Obika unmarked at the far post, who routinely roofed it to put the visitors ahead.
Dons weren’t going to take it lying down though, and instantly mounted the pressure on Swindon. Benik Afobe stung the palms of Wes Foderingham when he barged to the byline to fire across a fierce cut back, and then headed Dean Bowditch’s cross over the top.
Swindon weren’t without their chances at the other end, and could have been 3-0 up by the 22 minute mark. First, Yaser Kasim sent a free kick narrowly over the cross bar, before Smith beat the offside trap to race through on goal, but found David Martin pouncing at his feet as he shaped to round him.
As the half wore on, the home side’s frustration began to mount - an unusual sight for an MK Dons side. Play was much more frantic than normal, and out of possession, you’d be forgiven for thinking the game was in it’s dying minutes with the way the home side pressured and fought to get it back. It didn’t help them create a defining chance though, as Foderingham remained relatively unused between the sticks.
While looking safe plucking crosses out of the sky, the Swindon keeper was nearly caught out in first half stoppage time, when looking to clear up field, he thumped his attempt straight at Bowditch, but the deflection dropped just wide of the mark, sparing his blushes as his side to their lead into the break.
Daniel Powell was the dangerman for Dons at the start of the season half, and was unlucky not to add his name to the score sheet in the opening minute when his low drive was well palmed away by Foderingham, and two minutes later when he was afforded time and space but shot just over the top.
Dons though weren’t to be denied any longer though as they equalised five minutes after the restart. A brave tackle from Ben Reeves 20 yards out won the ball back from Jordan Turnbull, and the loose ball fell kindly for Dele Alli to rocket home into the top corner - Foderingham rooted to the spot.
Dons could think themselves lucky they weren’t trailing six minutes later though. A deft piece of skill saw Kyle McFadzean nutmegged on the edge of his area. Fortunately for Dons though, the finish was left to Swindon centre-back Jack Stephens, whose shot was tame and easy pickings for Martin to scoop up.
And they were made to pay for the miss as Dons took a lead which barely 10 minutes earlier had looked so unlikely. After Alli won a free kick on the Dons right flank after tangling with Jordan Turnbull, Ben Reeves whipped it in to the danger zone. McFadzean got a deft flick on it ahead of the pack, allowing centre-back partner Antony Kay to rocket a volley past Foderingham, sending Dons into the lead.
It should have been game, set and match in the 64th minute though, when Afobe robbed Stephens on the touchline and broke through on goal. With time to line up his effort, he shot into the side netting, producing a yell of frustration from the striker.
With Darren Potter being booked in the first half, Antony Kay’s second half yellow card after some hangbags with Smith, meant both would be suspended from the FA Cup first round game with Port Vale next Saturday.
Things were really hotting up in the midfield battle, as tackles went flying in and tempers on both side flared. Stephens could think himself lucky to be on the pitch after a shove in Alli’s chest in plain sight of the referee, but earned himself a place in the book as Swindon pushed forwards.
They came across a dominant Martin in goal though. In full command of his box, the keeper dominated in the air as Swindon swung some dangerous looking balls into the mix as the pressure increased in the latter stages.
Dons should have had it wrapped up in stoppage time though, but somehow, Alli, Grigg nor Powell were able to get a clean shot on goal in the box as they caught Swindon on the counter, with Foderingham throwing himself across his line to keep the deficit at one.
The win, met with a huge ovation from the home crowd, means Dons move up to third in League 1.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Attendance: 9,494 (1,292)
MK Dons: Martin; Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington, Potter, Alli, Powell, Reeves (Carruthers 70), Bowditch (Baker 80) , Afobe (Grigg 87)
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Hickford, Randall, Baker
Swindon Town: Foderingham, Stephens, Nathan Thompson, Turnbull, Byrne, Luongo, Kasim (Gladwin 90), Louis Louis Thompson (Williams 70), Bell (Toffolo 62), Obika, Smith
Subs not used: Belford, Barthram, Reeves, Rodgers
Booked: McFadzean, Potter, Louis Thompson, Bowditch, Kay, Smith, Stephens, Lewington