THE new season got safely underway for MK Dons as they cruised past Oldham Athletic with a 2-0 win at stadium:mk on Saturday.
Darren Potter headed the home side ahead just past the hour half mark as he reached Dean Bowditch’s corner first, and Daniel Powell hit the bar as Dons looked on top throughout.
Man of the match Powell looked on top form and doubled Dons’ lead 10 minutes after the break from a brilliant counter-attacking move.
And the scoreline could have been much more but for Oldham keeper Alex Cisak pulling off some fantastic saves late in the day as Dons searched for the killer blow.
Antony Kay was sent off for his part in a scuffle at the full-time whistle, and will be banned for Tuesday night’s game against Bournemouth.
New signings Ryan Lowe and Kay looked impressive when they came on against Cheltenham last Saturday and earned themselves starting roles. Luke Chadwick filled in for the suspended Stephen Gleeson in the centre of the midfield.
Dons have grown accustomed to Powell’s lively starts, and this game proved to be no different. After flashing a shot narrowly over the bar after five minutes, he raced in behind the Oldham defence but took the ball too wide and had to settle for a corner as Dons looked in the ascendancy early on.
Oldham struggled against a dogged Dons midfield – a long range effort from skipper Dean Furman after 19 minutes their first attempt on goal, skimming well wide.
As the game – unlike the weather – cooled, Oldham began to find their feet a little. A cleverly worked free-kick forced David Martin to tip the ball over the bar on the half hour mark, but it was Powell at the other end who continued to cause problems, throwing in dangerous cross after dangerous cross.
And it was from one of his crosses that he won a corner which led to the opening goal of the game on 33 minutes. Swung in by Bowditch, Potter was left relatively unmarked as he met the ball around the penalty spot to head home.
Dons could have doubled the lead five minutes later when Potter turned provider for Lowe, who neatly flicked the ball over keeper Cisak. But despite half of stadium:mk roaring in celebration, the ball dropped wide and behind for a goal kick – cue embarrassed laughter from the fans who thought it was in.
Powell came close again for Dons as the game ticked into injury time, but he saw his shot come back off the bar. There was still time for Youssouf M’Changama to rifle a free-kick straight down Martin’s throat as Dons kept their 1-0 lead going in at the break.
Jonathan Grounds will come away from stadium:mk glad to have got Powell out of the way nice and early in the season, as he struggled to keep tabs on the winger.
Straight from kick-off, Powell raced clear of the Oldham left back to put in another dangerous cross, before a minute later speeding past him again to set up Bowditch, but his shot was blocked on the edge of the box.
Robbie Simpson had a couple of minutes to forget 10 minutes after the restart – first he tangled with Potter, and then Chadwick which resulted in him being given a yellow card by referee Ian Williamson. And then, after out-muscling Gary MacKenzie, he failed to make Martin work from 12 yards out as he screwed his shot well wide.
And Oldham were made to pay for the miss as Dons doubled their lead following a brilliant move which started from the very back. Martin rose high to claim a deep Oldham free-kick – quickly spotted the run from Chadwick, and threw him the ball.
Jay O’Shea broke down the right flank, spotted Powell’s run inside him, and picked him out early, giving him space to drive into the box. Making no mistake, Powell neatly lofted the ball over the on-rushing Cisak to give Dons a well-deserved 2-0 lead.
The Oldham fans were beginning to feel hard-done-by with some of the decisions going against their side – none more so than when Simpson tapped in after Martin misjudged a cross, only for their celebrations to be cut short courtesy of the offside flag.
With 10 minutes remaining, Dons sensed blood, and but for Oldham stopper Cisak, the scoreline could have been embarrassing. First, he tipped over Jabo Ibehre’s rasping drive after a great move with Dean Lewington. Then he pulled off an incredible double-save 60 seconds later when O’Shea let fly and Charlie MacDonald looked certain to tap in the rebound, but for some heroics from the keeper.
There were few scares for Dons in the second period, but one did come with five minutes remaining when Martin went chasing another cross and spotting him off his line, Lee Croft attempted to loft the ball back in, but Alan Smith was on hand to head the ball safely over the bar.
There were ugly scenes in stoppage time though, as Kay was sent off for an altercation with Simpson after the full time whistle.
The victory sees sit Dons fourth in League One after the opening round of matches, with a trip to Bournemouth – who drew 1-1 at Portsmouth – next up on Tuesday night.
Referee: Ian Williamson
Attendance: 7,409 .
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, MacKenzie, Kay, Chicksen, Potter, Chadwick (Smith, 81), O’Shea, Bowditch (MacDonald, 65), Powell, Lowe (Ibehre 75)
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Otsemobor, Alli, Galloway
Oldham: Cisak, Grounds, M’Voto, Tarkowski, Croft, Furman, Slew (Taylor, 79), Simpson, Montano (Hughes 65), Byrne, M’Changama
Subs not used: Brown, Bouzanis, Smith, Millar, Winchester
Booked: MacKenzie, Simpson, Chadwick, Smith
Sent off: Kay