DONS picked up their third win in a row as they beat Bournemouth 1-0 at Dean Court on Saturday.
In a close affair, Mathias Doumbe’s first half strike was enough to separate the sides, though Charlie MacDonald could have wrapped it up on the hour mark but saw his one-on-one come back off the crossbar. Wes Thomas should have equalised in stoppage time but shot wide when clear through on goal.
A new look midfield lined up for Dons at Dean Court. Without suspended Stephen Gleeson and injured Darren Potter, Karl Robinson was forced to move Shaun Williams forward to play alongside Alan Smith in the centre of the park, while Tom Flanagan replaced Williams alongside Mathias Doumbe in the centre of the defence. So light was Robinson on numbers, 16-year-old George Williams made the substitutes bench.
A frantic opening to the game saw both goalkeepers scrambling in their goal-mouths early on, with Jay O’Shea sending a shot narrowly wide of Darryl Flahavan’s upright, while Donal McDermott forced David Martin into a good stop low to his right to keep the Cherries at bay.
The game flowed rapidly from end-to-end, with both sides exchanging five minute spells of pressure without really creating anything concrete. The home side looked comfortable with the ball at their feet and took the game to the Dons back line, skipping past challenges in the midfield and swinging in crosses from both sides.
Dons best chance of the half came after 25 minutes when a Shaun Williams free-kick evaded the defence and fell to Doumbe at the far post, but his shot-come-cross was just out of reach of Charlie MacDonald as he flung himself forwards to get a touch.
Bournemouth really should have taken the lead though two minutes later. Tavernier gave the ball away in midfield, allowing Harry Arter to slip the ball in behind to Matt Tubbs who was clean through on goal. Under no pressure though, the striker put the ball wide of the mark, much to the relief of Robinson on the touchline.
But his relief turned into jubilation on the half hour mark when Doumbe gave Dons the lead. Bowditch’s corner was flicked on at the near post by Tom Flanagan and his central defensive partner was quickest to react to the deflection at the far post as he hoisted the ball into the roof of the net for his second goal in three games.
Bournemouth really should have been level within four minutes when McDermott, who spent time on loan with Dons in 2009, evaded two challenges on the right before picking out the unmarked Scott Malone in the penalty area, but the winger’s swinging shot flew well over the bar.
The midfield battle continued for the remainder of the half, with neither side looking like adding to the score as they approached the interval. Dons were reduced to 10 men for a time as Alan Smith was left feeling a stray hand in the face opening a cut on his head, but it didn’t affect the visitors’ style too much.
Charlie MacDonald was looking as industrious as ever, but faced a huge challenge in the shapes of defensive duo Stephane Zubar and Miles Addison. He was making some intelligent runs though and held up play well to bring in Powell, Bowditch and O’Shea to the attack.
Bournemouth started hurriedly in the second half, almost in a rush, while Dons looked more than happy to continue at their own pace, particularly around the defence. Wes Thomas stung the hands of Martin five minutes after the restart as he tried his luck from 20 yards, but it was straight at the Dons keeper, who easily gathered it up.
And Martin was rooted to the spot when Scott Malone tried his luck from the edge of the area seven minutes later, but fortunately for the keeper, his dipping volley dropped just wide of the post as the home side continued to press for an equaliser.
Dons should have doubled the lead on the hour mark but lady luck just isn’t looking down on Charlie MacDonald at the moment. A poor Arter corner was cleared away by Bodwitch, and MacDonald beat McDermott to the bouncing ball and raced into the Bournemouth half. With only the keeper to beat, his strike from just inside the area came agonisingly back off the crossbar. He wasn’t given a chance to redeem himself though as he was replaced by Jabo Ibehre moments later.
Alan Smith has been showed a marked improvement in his performances in his spell with Dons and his progress continued against Bournemouth. Replacing Gleeson at the heart of midfield, Smith was a solid physical presence and was disciplined in his positioning – rarely allowing himself to venture too far into the opposition’s half.
With the clock ticking down, Bournemouth began to turn the screw, forcing Dons back into their half. But they struggled to create anything solid in front of goal, with the miserly Dons defence winning over. Wes Thomas had Bournemouth’s best chance deep in stoppage time when he capitalised on some indecision between Doumbe and Flanagan, but incredibly missed the target from 10 yards with Martin well beaten.
But with the crisis averted, Dons held on for a valuable three points. With the Sheffield sides meeting on Sunday, Dons leapfrogged Wednesday into fourth position in League 1.
Referee: Darren Deadman
Attendance: 6,419 (391)
Bournemouth: Flahavan, Wes Thomas, Daniels, Malone, Zubar, Addison, Shaun MacDonald, Arter, Francis, Tubbs (Stockley, 71), McDermott (Fogden, 65)
Subs not used: Dan Thomas, Cooper, Gregory
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Tavernier, Flanagan, Smith, Shaun Williams, Powell, O’Shea (Chadwick, 69), Bowditch, Charlie MacDonald (Ibehre, 63)
Subs not used: Chicksen, McLoughlin, George Williams
Booked: McDermott, Smith, Wes Thomas