It was all a bit too easy for MK Dons on Saturday as they hammered a poor Port Vale side 3-0 at stadium:mk.
Stephen Gleeson got things going with goal after four minutes, before Ben Reeves and Patrick Bamford put the tie to rest after just half an hour.
It could have been even more for the home side, with Dale Jennings, Gleeson, Reeves and Bamford all having good chances to extend the lead, but it was a comfortable return to form and Dons’ third win on the spin.
After the 2-0 win away at Wolves last Saturday, Karl Robinson named an unchanged team to face Port Vale at stadium:mk.
Before kick off, the club announced George Baldock had signed a two-and-a-half year contract extension, much to the delight of the home supporters.
And they didn’t have to wait long before they were celebrating again - this time a fabulous strike from Stephen Gleeson to put Dons into the lead. A deep third minute corner for the home side found Dale Jennings at the far post, but with little on, he rolled back to Samir Carruthers, who in turn slipped it in towards Gleeson. Fully 35 yards from goal, Gleeson swung his right boot at it, and the swerve took it away from Port Vale keeper Sam Johnson’s despairing dive, clipping the post on the way in.
It was 2-0 eight minutes later when, from another Dons corner, the ball was only half cleared to Ben Reeves hovering on the edge of the area, and hitting it through the crowd of players, the ball found it’s way in to the net via a deflection, with Johnson unsighted and helpless to prevent it.
In truth, Dons could have run riot in the opening 20 minutes. Seconds after scoring, Reeves could have made it three, but hit just over, and Bamford had two good chances to extend the lead but found Johnson in his way.
The keeper was the only player who looked remotely interested for the visitors as Dons won every ball and looked in total control.
Bamford did eventually add his name to the scoresheet after 31 minutes to make it 3-0. The Vale defence seemed uninterested in Shaun Williams’ ball over the top, but Reeves gambled and latched on to it. Drawing out Johnson, he crossed to the unmarked Bamford who met the ball around the penalty spot to fire in to the unguarded net.
The third did little to kick Port Vale into gear, though they did have two half-chances towards the end of the half, both falling to Tom Pope. First, he cut inside onto his right boot but hit straight at David Martin, before screwing his second shot just wide of the upright.
The second half continued in a similar vain to the first with Dons doing all the work. Gleeson came close to adding to his tally, forcing Johnson into a good stop, but the move of the match came from the left flank as Jennings broke with pace, picked out Reeves in the middle, but some brave defending saw his shot deflected over the top.
It was almost a practice match for Dons in the second period. Carruthers, Reeves and Bamford were all singing from the same hymn sheet and Jennings was beginning to show the type of player he is as the attacking quartet tore Vale apart at will.
At the other end, the visitors flattered to deceive, launching in crosses which were bread and butter for Martin.
Jennings was met with a standing ovation when he was withdrawn with 15 minutes to go, replaced by Baldock.
The icing on the cake for Dons was the return of Antony Kay. Having been out of action since September, Kay replaced Gleeson with seven minutes remaining.
Although Dons didn’t add to their tally, the style of football they were playing was a welcome sign for the home fans. The passing was crisp and neat, allowing the midfield to completely dominate from the off. And while Vale had their best spell of the game in the final 10 minutes, the tie was effectively over after half an hour.
With Coventry losing 2-1 to Swindon at the County Ground, Dons moved up to 11th in the League 1 table.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Attendance: 7,882 (644)
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Hodson, Williams, Spence, Gleeson (Kay 83), Potter, Reeves, Carruthers (Galloway 88), Jennings (Baldock 75), Bamford
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Smith, Banton
Port Vale: Johnson, Jones (Griffith 30), Robertson, Dickinson, Chilvers, Myrie-Williams (Shuker 65), Tomlin, Pope, Lines, Duffy, Birchall (Williamson 65)
Subs not used: Boot, Dodds, Hughes, Hugill
Booked: Lines, Kay