IT was a fairly run-of-the-mill first game of new the League 1 season for MK Dons, but an important one all the same as they got off to a winning start against Oldham.
Dons barely had to get out of third gear against Paul Dickov’s side as they cruised to a 2-0 stadium:mk victory.
But scenes after the game will leave Karl Robinson scratching his head somewhat as he now prepares for a tough game at Bournemouth on Tuesday night with only one recognised centre-back eligible to play.
Antony Kay’s late sending off was hardly the ideal way to make your home debut - clashing with Robbie Simpson at the final whistle gave referee Ian Williamson no choice but to show the former Huddersfield Town man a straight red card, consigning him to a three-game suspension.
It means that Dons will travel to Dean Court without the suspended Kay, injured duo Shaun Williams and Mathias Doumbe, and Tom Flanagan – out on loan at League 2 side Gillingham.
“We’ll be fine,” Robinson said after the Oldham game. “We’ll be thin on numbers of a few games but it’s a long season. It’s important to get off to a good start. With a goal either side of half time, it was a thoroughly good performance.
“We looked strong and professional in both halves against one of the best Oldham teams we’ve seen in a long time. We limited their chances and I think it was a very good performance.
“The second goal was excellent. We hit them on the break, that’s why I got so excited – we’d worked on hitting Oldham on the break all week.”
Daniel Powell was the star performer for Dons and immediately had an impact on the game as he terrorised Oldham left-back Jonathan Grounds, flashing a shot narrowly over Alex Cisak’s crossbar.
Dons kept the pressure up, but it wasn’t until 11 minutes before the break that Darren Potter headed home Dean Bowditch’s corner after more good work from Powell.
He saw his shot come back off the bar just before the break, but did brilliantly to convert Dons’ counter-attack nine minutes into to the second half. David Martin plucked a deep free-kick out of the sky and distributed to Luke Chadwick. From there, he set Jay O’Shea through down the right, who in turn slipped Powell through on goal.
Still with a lot to do, Powell stepped past one defender and neatly lifted the ball into the back of the net – no more than he deserved.
Oldham stopper Cisak kept the scoreline respectable for Oldham as Robinson put on Charlie MacDonald and Jabo Ibehre, and both saw good chances brilliantly saved by the keeper as Dons went for the killer blow.
But while they didn’t need another goal, it was hardly ideal for Kay to see red at the end of the game as he joins Gleeson suspended on the sidelines for a couple of weeks.
Robinson’s already small squad has been hit by an early bout of injuries and suspensions with two tough tests coming up within a matter of days as Dons travel to Bournemouth and then Swindon on Saturday, but at least they’re off to a winning start.