Dons dismiss Carlisle hoodoo to stay ahead of the rest

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ANOTHER win on the road for Dons and another bogey ground ticked off the to do list – things are looking very good so far this season.

The 3-1 victory over Carlisle dispelled the heavy defeats suffered at the hands of the Cumbrians in their last two visits to Brunton Park in emphatic fashion, earning Dons a standing ovation from home fans as they left the field at the final whistle.

And the three goals scored ensured Dons remain top of League 1 with the players now able to enjoy a rare Tuesday night off ahead of their huge clash with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

Karl Robinson was delighted with his side’s style of football and was pleased to put the club’s Brunton Park hoodoo behind them.

“I’m so proud of them and the style of football that we’re playing,” he said. “It’s still very early days though, but I’ll keep saying that until May.

“It’s another tough ground to come to – along with Exeter and Yeovil – so it’s an important one to put to bed.

“When they get a bit of a storm behind them here and begin to turn it on, the crowd here are deafening and it’s difficult.

“I’m disappointed with their goal. I think it was a lacklustre free-kick to give away, and the way we defended – that’s not like us. But we’re almost there.”

Dons ran riot in the second half of the game, dominating both possession and territory as Carlisle struggled to chase the ball down in the midfield, but it was a different story in the first half.

Dons initially struggled to get their short passing game going, and it was Carlisle who looked more threatening during the opening 10 minutes, with new signing Lee Miller testing David Martin with two long range efforts.

Dons began to play, but neither side really threatened the goals. That was until Charlie MacDonald popped up on the penalty spot in stoppage time to get on the end of Darren Potter’s brilliantly lobbed pass to head past Adam Collin.

It didn’t take long for Dons to double their advantage after the restart as Dean Bowditch tapped into an empty net just 90 seconds into the second half after a lightning break from the edge of the box.

Bowditch himself started the move when he played the ball to Jabo Ibehre, who in turn played it forward to Adam Smith who broke over the halfway line. Stephen Gleeson – who arguably put in a man-of-the-match performance in the centre of the park – ran on ahead of Smith and collected the ball in the area.

Shaping to shoot, the Irishman spotted Bowditch unmarked beyond the last defender and slipped it through for the simplest of finishes.

Carlisle were back in it in the 52nd minute though as Miller found himself unmarked at a free-kick to head home, lifting the crowd who had fallen silent after Bowditch’s strike.

Dons weathered the storm as the home crowd urged on their players, enjoying another 10 minute spell. And they restored their two goal advantage on the hour after another quick-flowing move, allowing Dean Lewington to pop up and slot home his first of the season.

With Gleeson and Potter controlling the play in midfield, it was left to the Carlisle players to chase the ball for most of the remaining half hour – a stark contrast to the corresponding fixture last season. Only four players in the Dons starting 11 have survived the last trip to Brunton Park, a fact not lost on Robinson, who enjoyed having strength in depth.

He said: “We select our players very carefully and they were able to come in and look like they were in all season. It’s what I was aiming for in summer. But I’m not getting ahead of myself and I’m keeping my feet firmly on the ground.”