RYAN Lowe scored his first goal for MK Dons as they eased past Carlisle 2-0 at stadium:mk.
Luke Chadwick added to his two goals in midweek against Blackburn to volley home the opener after 11 minutes as Dons looked in constant control against the Cumbrians. They had plenty of chances to extend their lead too, with Dean Bowditch, Ryan Lowe and Stephen Gleeson both forcing United keeper Adam Collin into good saves, but couldn’t extend their lead before the break.
And it took them 20 minutes into the second half before they made the result comfortable, when a brilliant break from their own penalty area saw Lowe net his first for Dons since his summer transfer.
Jimmy Bullard came on to a rapturous reception from the home crowd and showed what he was capable of, but in truth, the closing stages were a stroll for Dons.
Manager Karl Robinson was gradually beginning to get their full compliment of players fit and available again – Antony Kay returned from suspension to make the bench, alongside new signing Jimmy Bullard. The boss could still only name five substitutes though.
The home side made a positive start, putting together some good moves in midfield, and even thought they’d taken the lead after five minutes when Ryan Lowe smashed in from close range – but his celebrations were premature as he was flagged offside after Daniel Powell’s jinking run into the box saw the striker stride just beyond the last defender.
Carlisle seemed to struggle with Dons’ early vigour, barely stringing three passes together. But for a Jon-Paul McGovern shot just over the bar, the visitors barely made an impact in the opening 10 minutes.
It didn’t take Dons long to get their noses ahead though. Fresh from his brace against Blackburn on Tuesday night, Luke Chadwick continued his fine form with a brilliant volley from the edge of the box after flicking up Powell’s ball to him, handing Dons an 11th minute lead.
And the chances kept on coming for the home side – first Ryan Lowe forced Carlisle keeper Adam Collin into a low save, before Dean Bowditch did the same moments later. The keeper had to be on top form to keep out Powell’s deflected cross, tipping it over the bar, and he really earned his wages when Stephen Gleeson’s effort from 20 yards looked goal-bound – kept out by the diving Collin once more.
It wasn’t until the 22nd minute that the Cumbrians made an imprint on the occasion. McGovern attacked down the right flank, swinging the ball up into the box, comfortably cleared by Gary MacKenziue. However, his header fell to James Berrett on the edge of the box, and with time and space, he volleyed on goal. Fortunately, Jon Otsemobor bravely threw his head in the way of the powerful effort, knocking it up and over the bar for a corner.
Carving out the chance geed Carlisle into action as they began to look like a side capable of matching Dons.
But it was the home side that should have doubled their advantage on the half hour after a rapid counter-attack. MacKenzie’s headed a corner clear, Gleeson won the knock down and released Potter. With Lowe to his right and Powell to his left, he opted for the latter as he bared down on goal. But Powell perhaps took too much time to shoot, allowing Bradley Potts the time to get back and make the tackle as Robinson seethed on the touchline.
Collins will have been desperate for the half time whistle as he made further vital saves from Bowditch and Potter in the run up to the break. By contrast, David Martin may have been forgiven for getting a little bored – Jake Jervis’ tame hooked effort on the stroke of half time the only occasion he needed to use his hands in the opening 45 minutes.
It was a somewhat subdued start to the second half, with neither side looking quite as alert and eager as they were at the end of the first. Carlisle had the first chance of the half when Danny Cadamarteri put in a low cross to Jervis, but Adam Chicksen’s challenge put the striker off enough for him to spoon his shot well wide.
The stadium:mk crowd did their best to raise the home side and it worked as they won a series of corners – none of which bore fruit, or even made Collins work.
Dons looked so dangerous on the counter, and their pressure finally told after 64 minutes. Darren Potter started the move with an all-or-nothing tackle in his own box, and set Gleeson free down the centre and he raced over the half way line. Slipping the ball to Lowe, the striker then unleashed Powell in the box who fired in a shot on goal which Collins did well to keep out. But he could do nothing about Lowe following up as he put the ball into the back of the net for his first goal in Dons colours and taking the score to 2-0.
It would be his last involvement as Robinson replaced him with Charlie MacDonald, but the loudest cheer came for the introduction of Jimmy Bullard, who came on for Luke Chadwick as part of the double change.
Adam Chicksen has been ever growing with confidence this season, and attacked with regularity in the second half, and keeping Bradley Potts firmly in his pocket throughout the 90 minutes.
Cadamarteri almost embarrassed Martin with 15 minutes to go when his swirling shot popped out of his gloves, while at the other end, MacDonald’s deflected effort left Collins flat-footed – fortunately for the Carlisle man, it flew just wide of the target.
It was a smooth ride to the finish for Dons, who looked like they were in a training game rather than a competitive League 1 match. The midfield five passed among each other with ease, giving Carlisle the run around late in the day.
Bullard showed a bit of what Dons fans can expect to come in the next dew months when, with five minutes to go, he skinned Chris Chantler with ease, before trying an audacious lob over to an unmarked MacDonald at the far post. The lob was cleared away but only as far as Jay O’Shea on the edge of the area, but his volley was just wide of the mark.
The final score read 2-0 but it easily could have been more but for Adam Collin in Carlisle’s goal, but it won’t matter much for Dons who will see it as three more points.
Referee: Oliver Langford
MK Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Chicksen, Williams, MacKenzie, Potter, Gleeson, Powell (O’Shea 86), Bowditch, Chadwick (Bullard 72), Lowe (MacDonald, 72)
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Kay
Carlisle United: Collin, Robson (O’Halloran, 65), McGovern (Symington, 73), Murphy, Noble, Cadamarteri, Edwards, Potts, Berrett (Thirlwell, 36), Jervis, Chantler
Subs not used: Simek, Madden, Beck, Symington, Gillespie