Dons cruised to their first victory in four matches with a routine 3-1 win over a hapless Oldham Athletic side at Boundary Park.
There wasn’t ever going to be a repeat of the 7-0 drubbing Dons dished out earlier in the season, but they certainly had enough chances for it to be on the cards. Will Grigg missed four excellent chances on the night, but with first half strikes from Dean Bowditch and Daniel Powell, and a beauty from Ben Reeves in the second period, Grigg’s misses mattered little on the grand scheme.
Oldham are having a tough time of things lately, but Rhys Turner gave the fans something to cheer 10 minutes from time as he rolled home a colsolation as Dons left with all three points.
Having stopped the run of three defeats on Saturday with a 1-1 draw against Walsall, Karl Robinson made three changes to his side. Out went Jordan Spence, suspended Darren Potter and rested Carl Baker, replaced by Lee Hodson, Lewis Baker and Daniel Powell.
Dons could, and indeed should, have made the perfect start courtesy of a goalkeeping howler from Oldham stopper Jake Kean. After a superb series of one-touch passes between Dean Lewington and Samir Carruthers, Dean Bowditch was teed up on the edge of the box. Firing in low, Kean could only parry the shot into the path of Will Grigg. Saturday’s goal-scorer rounded the keeper easily, but saw his off-balance shot cannon off the upright.
The visitors looked by far the more comfortable on the ball, and played some neat football in the midfield, frustrating the home crowd as they kept the ball confidently. But Grigg should have been on the scoreline, again, come the 23rd minute when he was put through by a crafty flick over the top from Reeves. But Kean redeemed himself after his early error, pulling a save right out of the top draw to keep out Grigg’s lofted effort.
But two minutes later, Dons did take the lead. A powerful drive forwards from Carruthers, whose influence in the team seems to be growing by the game, allowed Bowditch to peel off his man, burst into the box and find the bottom corner of the net.
Despite dominating, Dons could have found themselves pegged back 11 minutes before half time as Carl Winchester and Jonathan Forte broke two-on-one. Exchanging passes between themselves to throw off Antony Kay, Forte was about to pull the trigger when Kyle McFadzean made a miraculous tackle eight yards out to stop the striker from getting a shot away. A minute later, Forte was through again, but came a cropper when David Martin raced bravely off his line to take the ball at his feet, cleaning the striker out in the process.
Having not had the best of halves, Daniel Powell made his mark on the game with a simple tap in to make it 2-0 eight minutes before the break. Grigg’s hold-up play allowed Carruthers to break down the left flank. Cutting the ball back, Powell had the simplest of finishes to double the lead.
Barely a minute of the second half had been played, but Oldham certainly looked renewed, but having thanked the frame of the goal in the first half, were cursing it when Conor Wilkinson’s effort had Martin rooted to the spot, only to see it ping off the post.
Dons didn’t really get going in the early exchanges of the second period, but it didn’t stop them from extending their lead in the 65th minute with a beauty from Ben Reeves. Carl Baker, who replaced Dean Bowditch, pulled down the right flank, but turned back and found the Player of the Year on the edge of the box. Cutting onto his left foot, he bent the ball beautifully past substitute keeper Joel Coleman to make it 3-0.
Will Grigg could have had a hat-trick on the night, but missed another excellent chance when he was put in again by Reeves, but lifted the ball over the top as Dons began to assert themselves on the thoroughly demoralised home side.
And with 12 minutes to go, he missed another sitter as Reeves fired the ball in to him at the far post, only for the on-loan Brentford man to blast it over the bar from eight yards.
Rhys Turner finally gave the home fans something to cheer with 10 minutes to go when he danced his way through the Dons defence to roll in a consolation past Martin.
Dons remain fourth with the win.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Attendance: 2,455 (66)
Oldham: Kean (Coleman 57), Brown (Philliskirk 46), Dieng, Forte, Winchester, Wilkinson (Turner 73), Woodland, Wilson, Kusunga, Sadler
Subs not used: Mellor, Truelove, Bove, Jacobs
MK Dons: Martin, Hodson, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington, Carruthers, L Baker, Powell (Spence 90), Bowditch (C Baker 53), Reeves (Randall 89), Grigg
Subs not used: Green, Walsh, Cole, Burns