A clinical Birmingham City side put MK Dons to the sword with a display of efficient finishing to win 2-0 at stadium:mk.
After a fairly evenly matched first half, with few chances at either end, the familiar figure of Stephen Gleeson fired the visitors ahead with a sublime strike just inside the box. His afternoon would end on a stretcher though. And with Antony Kay pulled out of position, Jacques Maghoma slotted home with 10 minutes to go to make sure of the points.
As expected, Karl Robinson made wholesale changes to the team which lined up against Cardiff in the Capital One Cup. Jordan Spence, Kyle McFadzean and Diego Poyet were the only three survivors from the extra time win on Tuesday night. Sam Gallagher missed out on a start at Reading last Saturday, but returned to the starting line-up for the visit of Birmingham.
The home side made a solid start to life kicking towards the packed away end. Sam Gallagher, leading the line, hadn’t had much to write home about during his Dons career. But his ninth minute spin to lose marker Jonathan Spector certainly made the home fans sit up and pay attention. Unfortunately though, Rob Hall’s finish was lacking, so much so that he missed the ball entirely.
Dons were having the better of the play, and although it didn’t manifest into many chances, it certainly settled the early nerves. Hall and Samir Carruthers were linking up nicely, and it was the former who had the fans out of their seat somewhat prematurely though when his 24th minute strike just went wide of the mark.
The home side were dealt a blow before the half time break though when Jordan Spence twice went down away from any Birmingham players, and was eventually withdrawn and replaced by Lee Hodson in a like for like swap.
And the substitute played a role in Dons’ best chance of the first half, coming at the very death. His low ball into the mix towards Hall was flicked into the path of Carruthers, who burst into area but getting eight yards out, blasted it into the side netting as Tomasz Kuszczak remained untested.
The second half started at a rapid pace, with both sides keen to stamp their authority on it early. A brilliant break from Carruthers may have been played in earlier, but when he did pick out Hall, the on-loan Bolton midfielder was offside, much to the frustration of Karl Robinson in the technical area.
But as Kuszczak continued as a spectator, it was a familiar face who fired Birmingham into the lead 12 minutes after the restart. Picking up Clayton Donaldson’s pull back, Gleeson bent his right boot around the ball to lift it up and over David Martin and into the far corner of the net.
Gleeson’s involvement though would end in unfortunate circumstances though. Having broken to the byline, he got a ball into the mix but was sent flying into the hoardings, and had to be stretchered off the field.
In truth though, Dons failed to show any teeth in the attacking third in the second half, and were made to pay for it.
Robinson rolled the dice for the final time with 23 minutes remaining introducing Carl Baker and Josh Murphy but it was a Birmingham substitute who made it 2-0 to the visitors and put a wrap on the game with 10 minutes to go.
Donaldson drew Antony Kay out of position, and allowed Jacques Maghoma to race clear of the defence, rolling the ball coolly past Martin to double the advantage and take home the points.
Referee: Gavin Ward
MK Dons: Martin, Spence (Hodson 35), Lewington, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington, Potter, Poyet, Hall, Carruthers (Murphy 67), Bowditch (Baker 67), Gallagher
Subs not used: Cropper, Upson, Powell, Church
Birmingham City: Kuszczak, Caddis, Spector, Morrison, Grounds, Gleeson (Davis 67), Kieftenbeld, Cotterill, Toral (Maghoma 54), Gray (Shinnie 82), Donaldson
Subs not used: Legzdins, Robinson, Thomas, Brock-Madsen
Booked: Kieftenbeld, McFadzean, Gray