Automatic promotion hopes remain as Dons see off Morecambe

MK Dons did what they had to to beat Morecambe 2-0 at Stadium MK to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive MK Dons did what they had to to beat Morecambe 2-0 at Stadium MK to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive
MK Dons did what they had to to beat Morecambe 2-0 at Stadium MK to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive
MK Dons 2-0 Morecambe

MK Dons fulfilled their end of the bargain by beating Morecambe 2-0 at Stadium MK to keep their hopes of automatic promotion alive.

A brilliant solo-strike from Harry Darling on 20 minutes gave the hosts the lead before Daniel Harvie’s first goal of the season came with 11 minutes to go to secure the points, but most eyes were on results for Rotherham and Wigan as the fight for the top two goes to the final day.

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Rotherham came from behind to beat Oxford 2-1 while Wigan were held to a draw by Plymouth, who Dons must get something off next Saturday in the final game of the season to be in with a chance of an automatic spot. Both the Latics and Millers play on Tuesday night too as they see off their match in hand over Dons.

After suffering a late defeat to Oxford United on Tuesday night, Liam Manning made two changes to his side to face Morecambe. Theo Corbeanu made his first start since March 8 as he came in for Hiram Boateng, while David Kasumu took over in the centre of the park from Josh McEachran.

Both Manning and McEachran criticised Dons' decision to play out from the back late in the day at Oxford and that risky tactic threatened to cause the hosts a few problems early on at Stadium MK. Morecambe, desperate for any points in their bid to avoid the drop, pressed on and harried the Dons defence into a few mistakes in the opening stages - nothing really though to cause Jamie Cumming any issues, though Cole Stockton tried an ambitious 40-yard attempt which sailed over the bar.

Harry Darling settled the nerves though on 20 minutes with a stunning individual effort to give Dons the lead. Picking the ball up in his own half, the defender roamed forwards and then his the gas as he approached the penalty area. Looking as though he would slide Troy Parrott in, Darling instead cut back onto his right foot and bent a quite brilliant strike into the bottom corner of Trevor Carson's goal.

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Dons set up camp for long periods in Morecambe's half, hemming in the visitors and limiting them to hopeful counter-attacks which really amounted to nothing.

It would be a Dons counter-attack that would instead be the best chance before the break. Led by Kaine Kesler-Hayden, his ball sent Theo Corbeanu wide, and his effort was eventually well dealt with by the Morecambe keeper.

The second half followed a similar pattern. Dons controlled the tempo and limited Morecambe to rare ventures into their half as Conor Coventry and David Kasumu pulled the strings in the centre of the park, while the wingbacks of Harvie and Kesler-Hayden grew in influence and impact.

Being one of the few not to find the back of the net this season, Harvie finally broke his duck though with 11 minutes to go to end Morecambe's resolve. Cutting inside onto his right foot, Harvie looked as though he would square to Twine on the edge of the box but instead went for it with his weaker foot and though the connection was not the cleanest, it trickled into the bottom corner past Carson's despairing dive.

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With the result all but assured, Kesler-Hayden should have put the game to rest when he was slid in by substitute McEachran but he fluffed his lines in front of Carson, allowing the keeper to make the save.

The result means all eyes will turn to the midweek fixtures featuring both Wigan and Rotherham before Dons play their final game next Saturday away at Plymouth.

Referee: Lee Swabey

Attendance: 10,121

MK Dons: Cumming, O'Hora, Darling, Lewington, Harvie, Kesler-Hayden, Coventry, Kasumu (McEachran 71), Corbeanu, Twine (Kemp 86), Parrott

Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Smith, Baldwin, Boateng, Mason

Morecambe: Carson, Leigh, Bedeau, Diagouraga, Stockton, Connolly, Phillips, Gibson, Gnahoua (Ayunga 60), Fane (McLoughlin 73), Bennett

Subs not used: Smith, O'Connor, Wildig, Cooney, McCalmont

Booked: Gibson, Kasumu, Lewington, Connelly, Phillips, Ayunga