Mason fires Dons to victory over Oxford United
Joe Mason's third goal in four games saw MK Dons finally end their win-less streak as they beat Oxford United 1-0 at Stadium MK on Saturday.
Mason was in terrific form again, fizzing two efforts just wide of the mark before he fired past Jordan Archer on the hour to get one over on former manager Karl Robinson in the opposite dugout.
There were nervous moments in the final half hour as Oxford pressed for an equaliser, both Alex Gilbey and David Kasumu should have put the game beyond doubt only for both to miss the target.
Though the win does not see Dons climb out of the relegation zone, it does draw them level with Tranmere Rovers above.
After the 1-1 draw with Doncaster was described as the 'best in a long time' by both Conor McGrandles and Russell Martin last week, the manager named the same team which started at the Keepmoat Stadium for the visit of Oxford. Jordan Moore-Taylor once again missed out, but there was a place on the bench for Rhys Healey for the first time since September. Sam Nombe, after playing an hour for the reserves in the week, missed out.
Much like many of Dons' opening halves of late, it was a tentative opening 45 minutes from both sides. Joe Mason twice came close for Dons with efforts from range, but really, neither keeper was tested.
Defensively, Dons looked assured as Oxford struggled to create much, with both Regan Poole and Joe Walsh controlling the tempo nicely, and Alex Gilbey again the best outlet going forwards.
With much of the same carrying on into the second period, Dons took the lead on the hour through a terrific piece of skill from Mason.
Picking up the ball inside the box, a deft touch saw him spin defender John Mousinho before lashing past Archer into the top corner.
Martin said his side were guilty of playing within themselves when they took the lead against Doncaster a week earlier, and there were signs of it again in the immediate aftermath of Mason's strike. Oxford had two decent penalty appeals waved away within a matter of seconds and hemmed Dons into their own penalty area for almost 15 minutes after the goal but struggled to carve a clear-cut opening to really test Nicholls' resolve.
The home side probably should have extended their lead but both Gilbey and David Kasumu both fluffed their lines late on, but Mason's goal was enough to end their barren run.
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Attendance: 10,031 (2,850)
MK Dons: Nicholls, Lewington, Brittain, Walsh, Poole, Houghton, Gilbey, McGrandles (Kasumu 90), Boateng (Reeves 72), Agard (Bowery 83), Mason
Subs not used: Moore, Healey, Dickenson, Sorinola
Oxford United: Archer, Cadden, Ruffels, Dickie, Rodriguez-Gorrin, Hall (Mackie 59), Brannagan (Agyei 80), Taylor, Fosu, Mousinho, Sykes (Baptiste 64)
Subs not used: Stevens, Moore, Long, Jones
Booked: Houghton, Dickie, Nicholls, Lewington, Fosu, Rodriguez, Reeves