DANIEL POWELL was the hero as he netted twice and showed an incredible act of sportsmanship during Dons’ 5-0 thrashing of lowly Oldham Athletic on Saturday.
The 20-year-old front man has had to show patience this season, making do with only a handful of appearances over the last few months as he’s found himself out of favour with Dons boss Karl Robinson. But given the chance to impress on a rare start, Powell did just that – helping Dons end a run of seven games without a win.
The three points do little to change Dons’ place in the League 1 table – still in fifth and 10 points adrift of the top two – but the win was certainly a huge confidence boost going into a busy run of fixtures, beginning with the visit of Bury to stadium:mk on Tuesday night.
Despite getting the ball in the back of the net in the first half, Powell had to wait until the second to net himself a richly deserved brace – his goal inside the first 10 minutes not standing due to referee Brendan Malone pulling play back for a penalty after a foul by Jean Yves Mvoto on the striker. The spot-kick duties then belonged to Dean Bowditch who fired Dons ahead while incredibly some of the visiting Oldham players found reason to complain.
Powell was at the heart of everything good Dons created during a fairly drab opening 45 minutes. But after breaking free down the flank and through on Alex Cisak’s goal looking for a second, Powell instead stopped and put the ball out of play, allowing Oldham’s Paul Black to receive treatment for an obvious injury before being stretchered off.
He was rewarded for that sporting gesture in the second half – latching onto a ball over the top to round Cisak and fire home for 2-0 before increasing the lead further with an excellent turn and strike past the Oldham keeper.
Unfortunately he missed out on a deserved hat-trick, but there was still time for Dons to turn on the style and add two more goals through defender Mathias Doumbe – producing a strike as stunning as it was unexpected to beat Cisak from a right angle – before Stephen Gleeson lashed home his first ever goal at stadium:mk.
Robinson said the result was just rewards for his side’s efforts in recent weeks.
He said: “We said before the game that if our performances stayed true to what they have been over the last few weeks, the results would soon follow. I thought we showed tremendous quality and class in both boxes,
“We’ve come up against a strong Oldham team, in our preparation we felt they were going to be a massive threat, we thought the top four for them were going to be difficult, but we coped really well and we looked a class act today.
“From the beginning of the year we have been excellent – probably our worst performance was the Colchester one here which we won.
“The boys have been excellent, if you look at the run of games that we have had – Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton – I’d argue with anyone that we have been the better team in all of them.
“Today we looked really strong, when we were 2-0 up in the second half we had the impetus and were the better team. The players have a tremendous attitude and they can walk off with their shoulders back and their heads up.”
And Robinson paid tribute to Powell who has found Dons starts very hard to come by in recent weeks, but took his chance with both hands, while also helping out a fellow professional when Black laid stricken on the turf.
“We all thought the ball had gone out and he kicked it out in anger with himself,” said Robinson.
“I asked him what he was doing, if the ball was still in play then to wait for the referee to blow his whistle, but he said the boy went down and screamed. He said there were players he’d seen with injuries and he wanted to make sure the boy was treated almost immediately.
“I thought the actions of Powelly were incredible. They are just a really good group of lads and they want to be successful together, my job is made a bit easier by the players’ attitude and application on the pitch.”
Dons now welcome Bury to town on Tuesday night, looking for three points which would see them go level with fourth placed Huddersfield Town. In fact victory by two goals or more would see Dons leapfrog above the west Yorkshire outfit.