MK Dons endured a torrid afternoon as they were comprehensively outplayed by Brentford at Griffin Park on Saturday, going down 2-0.
New Brentford manager Dean Smith couldn’t have hoped for a more routine win in what could have been a rugby score, watching on in his first game in charge as the influential Alan Judge started a move which allowed Lasse Vibe nod in after 21 minutes.
Clattering the crossbar three times as Dons offered nothing in return, Brentford wasted a whole host of chances to put the game to rest, but had to wait until 19 minutes from the end before Judge doubled the lead, firing through a crowd of players past an unsighted David Martin.
Despite the defeat though, Dons remain outside the relegation zone courtesy of Blackburn’s win over Bristol City, but now 20th.
Karl Robinson made just one change to the side which started at Molineux in the 0-0 draw with Wolves last Saturday as Samir Carruthers dropped to the bench to make way for Carl Baker. Nicky Maynard continued to lead the line, with Simon Church out injured.
Alan McCormack had been named in the Brentford starting line-up, but picked up a knock in the warm-up. He was replaced by Sergi Canos, with Josh McEachran stepping onto the bench.
It was a nip-and-tuck opening 20 minutes as the howling winds played their part with anything over head height. Dons were playing the nicer stuff, passing neatly amongst themselves, though both Dean Bowditch and Josh Murphy would have wanted to do better with their efforts, barely testing David Button in the home net.
Brentford meanwhile looked slow to get going, but capitalised on their first real chance and took the lead in the 21st minute. Winning the ball in midfield, Alan Judge broke forwards into Dons territory. Spotting Jake Bidwell’s run down the flank, Judge played the full-back in, and his pin-point cross was headed high into the net by Lasse Vibe.
The goal certainly sparked the home side into life, and it should have been 2-0 five minutes later when Diego Poyet was caught in a three-on-one, as Judge raced clear on goal. But drawing out David Martin, he could only fire into the keeper’s face.
The pressure from the home side kept on coming as Judge again came close, this time rattling the crossbar from a well struck free kick on the half hour mark. The frame was shaking again three minutes later when Antony Kay and Kyle McFadzean couldn’t clear their lines, and the ball fell to Canos, whose fierce strike came back off the bar.
Dons were somewhat lucky to weather the storm, and even had the ball in the net only to see Maynard’s strike deemed offside. They had the wind to thank too with three minutes of the first half remaining as Bowditch’s cross caught a gust and nearly beat Button at his near post. Fortunately for the keeper, he was rescued by the upright as his side took their lead into the break.
The woodwork came to Dons’ aid for a third time four minutes after the restart as Brentford looked to kill the game off early. Vibe again was the man causing trouble, this time cutting back onto his right foot and unleashing a spectacular strike clattering the bar again.
With his side looking second best, it didn’t take Robinson long to ring the changes - just eight minutes in fact, as Daniel Powell replaced Josh Murphy on the left hand side in a bid to add a more physical presence.
Brentford will have been wondering what they had to do to put Dons to bed, especially when Judge missed another sitter, this time lashing over from six yards with the goal gaping.
If it wasn’t for the home side’s poor finishing, Dons would have been long-since buried in the affair. Playing long to Maynard wasn’t a tactic they looked familiar with, though their poor passing at times didn’t help their situation. Neither Darren Potter nor Diego Poyet were really having much impact despite seeing a lot of the ball as they helped mop up at the back, but they couldn’t kick Dons into any sort of gear going forwards.
Given the chances they’d missed though, it was going to take a bit of luck for Brentford to score a second, and that’s exactly what they got. As Dons only half cleared Bidwell’s cross into the danger zone, Judge lurked on the edge of the box but appeared to slip as he struck the ball. Tamely, the ball rolled through the defence and with Martin unsighted until late, he was too late to react as it nestled nicely into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 with 19 minutes to go.
With the game and points well in hand for the home side, they were able to take their foot off the gas though it hardly helped Dons create anything. A tame Maynard effort, which he put straight at Button, was all Dons had to write home about in the second 45.
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 9,682 (592)
Brentford: Button, Bidwell, Canos (Saunders 66), Woods (Jota 80), Kerschbaumer, Judge, Diagouraga, Vibe (Hofmann 87), O’Connell, Tarkowski, Yennaris
Subs not used: Bonham, Gogia, Barbet, McEachran
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Potter, Poyet (Carruthers 73), Baker, Murphy (Powell 53), Bowditch (Gallagher 65), Maynard
Subs not used: Cropper, Hodson, Carruthers, Hall, Powell, Benavente
Booked: O’Connell, Murphy