A clinical Wolverhampton Wanderers side piled more misery on MK Dons as they left stadium:mk with all three points and a 2-1 win.
Dons can count themselves somewhat unlucky not to come away from the game with at least a draw after a spirited performance, but were taught a lesson in finishing by a Wolves side who took their only two chances of the night.
Dons took the lead after just six minutes to start the night brightly when a combination of Nicky Maynard and Kortney Hause turned Carl Baker’s cross past keeper Carl Ikeme.
Wolves didn’t show much attacking prowess until the second half, and when their chances came, they took them. George Saville headed them level on 61 minutes before Jack Price tapped in their second five minutes later to put the result beyond the home side.
Fulham’s victory, along with Rotherham’s draw with Bristol City, means Dons are now six points adrift in the battle for Championship survival. The Millers visit stadium:mk on Saturday in another vital clash.
After suffering defeat at Craven Cottage on Saturday, Karl Robinson made four changes to the side which lost 2-1 to Fulham and those changes came at the front end of the pitch. Alex Revell, Dean Bowditch, Jonny Williams and goal-scorer Josh Murphy made way for Daniel Powell, Samir Carruthers, Carl Baker and Nicky Maynard.
And the latter three combined to give Dons an early lead. Carruthers slid the ball wide to Baker who waited for his moment to drive the ball in low, leaving Maynard with a relatively simple finish from just inside the six yard box, beating Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme after just six minutes.
It was exactly what Dons needed to settle the nerves. With so much riding on the game, taking an early lead gave them something in their pocket, an extra confidence to take Wolves on and it’s exactly what they did. For much of the opening half, they controlled the tempo, enjoyed possession and restricted Wolves when they had it. A James Henry half-chance aside, Wolves barely threatened in the opening half hour.
Dons’ front four had already made more of an impact than the alternative had at Fulham on Saturday, and were passing the ball about neatly in the attacking third. Carruthers, playing his first game back since his club suspension, was at the heart of everything, but Jake Forster-Caskey was the real orchestrator, with deft touches and clever angles making Dons tick from inside their own half.
Antony Kay could think himself pretty lucky as the game ticked into first half stoppage time when he appeared to catch Michal Zyro above the knee just inside the Dons half, sending the Wolves man tumbling. While the Pole was stretched off, Kay received just a booking for his misdemeanour.
As has been so often the case of late, half time brought out the best in the visitors and sparked them into life. Showing more forward ambition than in the first 45 minutes, Wolves were looking far more dangerous and it eventually paid off when George Saville headed them level on 61 minutes.
It certainly woke Dons up and they should have taken the lead when the ball somehow made it to Daniel Powell stood in front of Carl Ikeme, but even he was taken by surprise and couldn’t angle his flock past the keeper. Carruthers too was only just beaten to the ball at the near post when substitute Josh Murphy made light work of Matt Doherty on the right-hand side.
But it was from that corner that Wolves took the lead. Launching the ball forward for Jack Price to chase, Cropper came out to head his line clear. But Adam Le Fondre, who picked up the loose ball on half way was able to break down the line and cross to Price, who put the ball on a plate for Price to tap Wolves in front five minutes after their leveller.
And the goal knocked the stuffing out of Dons. Robinson rolled the dice, bringing on Alex Revell and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas for Maynard and Powell, after he took a knock, but it simply didn’t bear any fruit.
With Wolves happy to shut up shop at the back, Dons struggled to make in-roads and the game tailed off without much incident.
Referee: Mark Heywood
Attendance: 12,131 (1,653)
MK Dons: Cropper, Lewington, Kay, Walsh, Baldock, Potter, Forster-Caskey, Powell (Jay Emmanuel-Thomas 78), Carruthers, Baker(Murphy 65), Maynard (Revell 75)
Subs not used: Burns, Long, Williams, Bowditch
Wolves: Ikeme; Iorfa, Batth, Hause, Doherty Coady, Price, Saville, Henry, Zyro (Le Fondre 46), Mason (Edwards 90)
Subs not used: Martinez, Deslandes, Helan, Byrne, Hunte
Booked: Kay, Potter, Forster-Caskey, Doherty, Emmanuel-Thomas