DONS hardly got out of second gear as they eased past Leyton Orient at stadium:mk, winning 4-1.
Charlie MacDonald opened the scoring after just two minutes before Kevin Lisbie got the final touch to Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s corner 11 minutes later. But Shaun Williams restored Dons’ lead after 22 minutes as Dons looked well in control. Their dominance continued into the second half, but Paul Rachubka in the Orient net kept Dons at bay. But there was nothing he could do to stop Jabo Ibehre tapping in 10 minutes from the end to increase the lead to 3-1 before Daniel Powell’s powerfully struck shot rifled in three minutes later to wrap up all three points for the home side.
With Alan Smith rested for the game, Shaun Williams moved into the centre of midfield alongside Darren Potter, promoting Adam Chicksen to the starting line-up in his favoured left-back position. Dean Lewington played in the centre alongside Tom Flanagan.
In the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, it was nothing more than a training exercise as Dons ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. And with just two minutes on the clock, Charlie MacDonald opened the scoring with a move that came straight from the training ground. With Doumbe breaking down the right flank, he easily cut inside Leon McSweeney and passed the ball across to MacDonald who flicked the ball in at the near-post to put Dons a goal to the good.
And the home side were looking good for their lead, with Daniel Powell and MacDonald linking up well for Chadwick and then O’Shea to shoot on goal – both efforts blocked by the Orient defence.
But the away side managed to pull level on 13 minutes, though there was an air of controversy about it. Jamal Campbell-Ryce knocked in a fairly direct corner which looked to be heading straight into David Martin’s gloves. But Ben Chorley seemed to block off Martin and Kevin Lisbie got the final touch as the ball gently rolled into the net to equalise – Martin understandably furious with the referee, but protested to no avail.
Campbell-Ryce’s corners were a real cause for concern for Dons, as Martin fumbled another, this time getting caught up underneath Potter’s feet as he looked to collect the deep cross.
It didn’t take long for Dons to regain the lead though, and they did so midway through the first half. Jay O’Shea found space on the left and bent in a right-footed cross and it was met in the air by Shaun Williams who sent Orient stopper Paul Rachubka the wrong way with his header.
O’Shea could have had one of his own a minute later when the ball bounced kindly for him on the edge of the box, but Rachubka did well to get down and palm the ball around the post.
Dons penned Orient into their own half as they flowed forward looking for a third goal. O’Shea came close again, Powell struck wide and Williams nearly doubled his tally for the night when Orient’s defence went missing.
A rare break from the away side could have earned themselves another equaliser against the run of play when an unmarked Jimmy Smith ghosted into the area and latched on the end of Lisbie’s cross, but Martin got down well to save.
But the home side looked comfortable on the ball in every area of the pitch. Williams hardly missed a tackle in the centre of the park as he epitomised a box-to-box midfielder, while Tom Flanagan looked a seasoned pro at the heart of the hardly-troubled defence as Dons cruised into half time with a 2-1 advantage.
And the home side’s control over the game continued into the second half as Orient were forced to chase the ball all over the field. Rachubka made a fine save to keep out Williams’ 30 yard drive in the only real chance of the opening 15 minutes of the half as Orient struggled to maintain any possession, particularly in the final third.
O’Shea thoroughly deserved a rest and was replaced by Jabo Ibehre in the 67th minute. And the former Orient hero nearly scored with his first touch as he got on the end of Williams’ corner, but Rachubka did well again to keep the header out.
Another substitute, this time Dean Bowditch, was at the centre of Dons’ next chance as he spread the ball wide to an unmarked Powell in the penalty area, but he took a touch too many as he tried to beat Rachubka – the keeper doing well to save at his feet. But Orient failed to clear and Bowditch found himself on the edge of the box with the ball at his feet, and felt he had a decent penalty claim turned down as his powerful drive looked to be blocked by the hands of former Dons skipper Ben Chorley, but referee McDermid waved away the protests once again.
The visitors looked clueless going forward, struggling to link passes together as they threatened to counter but all too often picked out a Dons shirt in defence
Jabo Ibehre put the game out of Orient’s reach with 10 minutes to play when Powell was given too much time to pick out a cross, and though Rachubka did well to save MacDonald’s initial effort, the ball squirmed underneath the hapless keeper for Ibehre to easily tuck away Dons’ third.
And it was quickly 4-1 when Powell lashed home from inside the box with 7 minutes remaining, putting the result beyond any doubt.
As seems to be the way of late, Dons result was echoed by those around them in the play-offs, though Sheffield Wednesday dropped points against Walsall. Dons remain fifth.
Referee: Danny McDermid
Attendance: 6,842 (436 away)
MK Dons: Martin, Chicksen, Doumbe, Lewington, Flanagan, Potter, Williams, Chadwick (Bowditch, 69), Powell (Slane, 86), O’Shea (Ibehre, 67), MacDonald
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Hall
Leyton Orient: Rachubka, Chorley, Cuthbert, Forbes, Cox, Reed, Lisbie (Andrew 81), McSweeney, Spring, Smith (Mooney 60), Campbell-Ryce (Laird, 70)
Subs not used: Youssef, Taiwo
Booed: Williams, Reed