Dons climb back into play-off spots with comfortable AFC Wimbledon win
MK Dons 1-0 AFC Wimbledon
Matt O’Riley celebrates his second career goal against AFC Wimbledon
Matt O’Riley’s seventh goal of the season ensured MK Dons claimed a comfortable 1-0 victory over 10-man AFC Wimbledon at Stadium MK to climb back into the League One play-off spots.
His strike on 29 minutes proved to be decisive, and their cause was helped massively by Nesta Guinness-Walker’s sending off on 36 minutes for a second yellow card.
Impressive performances from Tennai Watson and debutant Theo Corbeanu gave Dons a bit of flair in the second period, but despite Scott Twine and Mo Eisa having half-chances, Dons were unable to add to their lead, while AFC Wimbledon failed to test Franco Ravizzoli.
The result sees Dons climb back into the play-off spots, into fifth.
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Following the news of Andrew Fisher's departure to Swansea City, Franco Ravizzoli was handed his first league start for the club between the posts as one of four changes from the weekend's draw with Accrington Stanley. Ethan Robson and Tennai Watson returned to the side for injured David Kasumu and rotated Peter Kioso, while Theo Corbeanu made his first start after signing for the club on Friday at the expense of Troy Parrott.
In a typically nervous atmosphere, both sets of supporters did their utmost to roar their side on but it was the home crowd, with new banners and flags behind the goal, who made their voices heard the loudest, particularly when keeper Ravizzoli touched the ball - the Argentinean cheered with every touch he made.
Slow though Dons were in the opening 15 minutes, they began to get on top as AFC Wimbledon's early pressing relented and it allowed for some more space in the centre of the park for Ethan Robson and Matt O'Riley to dictate the play.
Newcomer Corbeanu was forming a good relationship with Watson on the right flank, overloading Nesta Guinness-Walker with the AFC Wimbledon man booked midway through the opening period.
With clear-cut chances hard to come by though, a mistake from keeper Nik Tzanev would help Dons take the lead. Racing out of his box to pick ip a loose ball, he was caught in possession by Mo Eisa, who turned the ball inside for Twine to cross. With the keeper out of position, Watson's loose touch allowed O'Riley to get space on the edge of the box and bend the ball left-footed into the back of the net.
After struggling to carve openings against the 10-men of Accrington on Saturday, the home side were asked to do the same again when, 12 minutes before the break, Guinness-Walker fouled Corbeanu on the touchline, offering referee Anthony Backhouse no choice but to send the defender off.
Dons probably should have doubled their advantage before the break with Twine, O'Riley and Watson all having sights of goal to no avail.
The second half though was a controlled and patient affair, but once again Dons were stifled out by a side with 10-men. Twine and Eisa both cut frustrated figures as neither could get anything other than half-sights of goal. Twine though should have done better after doing all the hard work to get in front of Tzanev, only to fire straight at the keeper from eight yards.
Corbeanu continued to look a threat, as did Watson and both were met with standing ovations as they left the pitch, but there were a nervy few minutes at the end as Cheye Alexander twice unleashed dangerous efforts which had Ravizzoli scrambling but ultimately wide of the mark.
Claiming their first win of 2022, Dons climbed into fifth spot.
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Attendance: 7,663 (383)
MK Dons: Ravizzoli, Lewington, O'Hora, Darling, Harvie, Watson (Kioso 84), Robson, O'Riley (McEachran 73), Corbeanu (Parrott 89), Twine, Eisa
Subs not used: Sandford, Jules, Boateng, Ilunga,
AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev, Woodyard, Nightingale, Alexander, Hartigan, Palmer (Cosgrove 82), Assal (Kaja 73), Rudoni, Guinness-Walker, McCormick (Osew 41), Heneghan
Subs not used: Oualah, Marsh, Chislett, Mebude, Kaja
Sent off: Guinness-Walker