A battling defensive display earned Dons a brilliant victory over Brentford at stadium:mk on Monday.
Despite being under pressure for most of the game, goals from Dean Bowditch and Stephen Gleeson ensured Dons took their full compliment of points over Easter, and sent Brentford back to London licking their wounds, wondering how they didn’t score for all their possession.
On the back on of Good Friday’s 2-0 victory over Hartlepool, Dons knew they’d need to continue their winning form against high-flying Brentford on Easter Monday to keep in with a chance of the play-offs in May.
Brentford came into the game having never lost in Milton Keynes, and almost took the lead after eight minutes when Clayton Donaldson spotted Jonathan Douglas’ run at the far post, and picked him out from the right flank. But the Bees’ skipper couldn’t direct his past Ian McLoughlin, who did well to palm it away.
But despite barely having an attack, Dons took the lead after 14 minutes. Dean Bowditch took on the left flank, cut inside and fired in an effort from the edge of the box. The ball looked to be bread and butter for Simon Moore, but it bobbled in front of the keeper and looped up into the net.
Brentford pressed Dons for every ball, giving them barely any time to sit back and survey as they famously like to. Milton Keynes-born Harry Forrester looked dangerous on the Brentford left, and he forced a solid stop from McLoughlin - no bobble problems for the Dons stopper as he got down well to collect. Tony Craig too had a decent chance with a header from a corner after Marcello Trotta’s inadvertent flick on, but his effort was well blocked by Jon Otsemobor as Dons defended solidly to ride out the storm.
In a rare Dons attack, Chicksen whipped in a brilliant ball to the far post, though Bamford, who looked frustrated and isolated out on the right flank, headed just over the top.
Brentford really should have been level five minutes before the break though, and Trotta will be kicking himself for not converting. Brilliantly slipped through by Douglas, the former Fulham man was through on goal but rushed his strike, pulling it wide of the mark, with McLoughlin not needing to move.
Bradley Wright-Phillips was thrown on at half time, replacing Trotta, and should have levelled just 30 seconds after the restart when Forrester picked him out at the near post. But despite pushing in front of Mathias Doumbe, he put his header agonisingly over the top, much to the relief of his dad Ian sat on the Dons’ bench.
It was turning out to be a busy time for the home defence. Otsemobor in particular had his hands full with Forrester and the attacking-minded full-back James Bidwell. But both he and Chicksen on the opposite flank restricted their usual attacking nature to cope with Brentford’s pressure, which was hemming Dons into their own half.
Bamford was proving his class once again and really should have put Dons 2-0 up with 23 minutes remaining when he was slipped in by substitute Daniel Powell and skirted past two defenders onto his left foot, but struck at the on-coming Moore who closed the angle.
Ian McLoughlin threw his body on the line as he beat Douglas to Sam Saunders’ cross, clattering into the Brentford man, earning them both a hard landing.
Brentford, throwing everything they had at the home side, squandered a great chance with 15 minutes remaining as Toumani Diagouraga broke leading to a four-on-one breakaway. But the midfielder picked the wrong option, allowing Stephen Gleeson to vitally intercept on the edge of the box.
It was set up to be a nervy final 10 minutes, with Dons hanging on for dear life as the visitors kept on coming at them. Diagouraga put two efforts over the top, and it would prove costly as Dons doubled their lead with five to play. Holding up play out on the left flank, Darren Potter waited for support which came in the form of Gleeson. Taking a touch, Gleeson rifled past Moore into the back of the net to put Dons 2-0 up.
Robinson’s side stroked the ball about with ease as the clock drained away, comfortably seeing the three points home.
Referee: Stephen Martin
Attendance: 10,455 (2,030)
MK Dons: McLoughlin, Otsemobor, Chicksen, Williams, Doumbe, Gleeson, Potter, Lines, Bowditch (Chadwick 62), Bamford (Smith 78), Lowe (Powell 58)
Subs not used: Smith, Baldock, Alli, Galloway
Brentford: Moore, Forshaw, Craig, Dean, Douglas, Donaldson (German 66), Trotta (Wright-Phillips 46), Logan, Forrester (Saunders 71), Digouraga, Bidwell
Subs not used: Gounet, Adeyemi, Hodson, Reeves