Five-star Stockport leave Dons' automatic promotion chances in tatters

League Two: Stockport County 5-0 MK Dons

MK Dons' automatic promotion hopes took a massive denting on Saturday night as they were thumped 5-0 by fellow contenders Stockport County at Edgeley Park.

It was a 15-minute capitulation from the visitors having looked the better of the two sides for the opening half-an-hour, beginning with a Michael Kelly error to allow Callum Camps to open the scoring.

Goals from Paddy Madden and Tanto Olaofe before the break effectively put the game to bed, before Connor Lemonhaigh Evans' stunning fourth five minutes into the second-half secured it.

Neill Byrne's close-range strike at the death put further icing on the cake for the Hatters, the result effectively writes Dons out of the race for the top three, now three points adrift of Mansfield, Stockport and Wrexham, all of them with games in hand over Mike Williamson's side.

After he scored a brace against Crewe Alexandra last week, Matt Dennis picked up a knock late in the week and missed out on the game against Stockport. It meant Emre Tezgel was handed his third start since joining from Stoke City in January. Dan Kemp too missed out after picking up an injury at the full-time whistle last Saturday. The squad was handed a huge boost though in the form of Max Dean returning to the bench for the first time in 11 games, as did keeper Filip Marschall.

Despite spring supposedly being in bloom, conditions could not have been a lot worse for the opening hakf-an-hour at Edgeley Park, but it seemed to play into Dons' hands early on. As wind and rain battered the players, it was the visitors who took control of the game and had the better of the early chances.

County keeper Ben Hinchcliffe needed to make a fine double-save to first deny Joe Tomlinson and then Stephen Wearne, flying to his left to keep out the latter as he poked the ball goalwards.

Jack Payne fired a free-kick just wide of the mark, Emre Tezgel too spun an effort just wide of the mark as it looked as though Dons would go onto open the scoring.

But a disaster from Michael Kelly at the other end would gift Stockport the lead on 31 minutes. Racing out of his goal to gather a through-ball aimed at Callum Camps, the keeper got to it first but somehow let the ball squirm from his grip, allowing the Stockport man to roll the ball into the unguarded net.

Kelly almost made an immediate amends when he launched Tomlinson through on goal, but Hinchcliffe was a match for it, though in a carbon copy at the other end five minutes later, Paddy Madden doubled the lead.

With Dons desperate for a way back into the game, they were struck with a late hammer blow in first-half stoppage time when Tanto Olaofe was put through from a ball over the top, and slotted in Stockport's third after rounding Kelly.

If it was not curtains for Dons already, Connor Lemonhaigh Evans' sensational strike five minutes into the second-half certainly was. MJ Williams' attempt to stop Ibou Touray on the Stockport left was a tame one and he was allowed to cross, though Harvie's clearance too was half-baked but Lemonhaigh Evans bent in a wonderful effort from 22 yards out, picking out the top corner.

And it could have been worse a minute later, but Madden's fierce strike from the left-hand side was palmed onto the bar by Kelly.

There was precious little joy to be had from a Dons pursuasion in the remainder, though Dean made his long-awaited return and almost got on the end of a Tomlinson cross, but was inches away from converting.

Stockport added a fifth at the death when Neill Byrne poked home from close range.

Referee: Marc Edwards

Attendance: 9,727 (568)

Stockport County: Hinchcliffe, Touray, Horsfall, Camps, Madden, Powell (Croasdale 61), Pye, Wootton, Lemonheigh Evans (Hippolyte 77), Olaofe (Bailey 69), Kane (Byrne 69)

Subs not used: Smith, Richards, Bennett

MK Dons: Kelly, O'Hora, Williams (Norman 58), Harvie, Tomlinson, Lofthouse, Payne (Harrison 58), Bate, Gilbey, Wearne (Robson 79), Tezgel (Dean 58)

Subs not used: Marschall, Lewington, Robson, Ilunga

Booked: Payne, Kane