A brilliant show from MK Dons finally got the reward as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at stadium:mk to climb out of the Championship relegation zone.
In a heavily one-sided first half against a lackluster Wednesday, Carl Baker’s superb 25th minute goal gave Dons the lead before Nicky Maynard dispatched a one-on-one five minutes into the second half to double the advantage.
Struggling to make an impact until late on, Wednesday pulled one back through Gary Hooper making for a nervy final 13 minutes, but Dons managed to hold on to take all three points and with it climb out of the bottom three.
After Ipswich’s 1-0 win at stadium:mk on Saturday, Karl Robinson made just one change to his starting line-up, introducing Rob Hall in place of Dean Bowditch.
Dons were very much the better side in the opening 20 minutes and had Wednesday pegged into their own half for long periods. Swift passing was the order of the day as the visitors were made to chase as Josh Murphy in particular caused chaos on the lefthand side.
Both he and Samir Carruthers saw a lot of the ball in the opening exchanges, though the pair weren’t able to test keeper Keiren Westwood in the Owls’ net.
Opting to use Nicky Maynard’s pace, balls were being sprayed over the top for him to chase to no avail though. Instead, Maynard would turn provider though for Dons’ opener in the 25th minute. Riding the challenge from Wednesday skipper Glenn Loovens, Maynard was able to play in Carl Baker behind. A familiar cut back onto his left boot, then back onto his right, Baker sent two defenders flying before neatly lifting the ball over the advancing Westwood to fire Dons into a deserved lead.
Maynard was close to doubling the lead five minutes later when the ball worked its way to him inside 10 yards, but the Wednesday defence threw themselves in front to put it wide for a corner. Dons’ dominance in the game continued to the half time interval, though Wednesday began to see more of the ball in the latter stages but barely threatened.
Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal had made two changes by the time the second half restarted. First, he thoroughly embarrassed Alex Lopez by hauling him off a minute before the interval, replacing him with Ross Wallace. And for the second half, striker Atdhe Nuhiu had been withdrawn for Lucas Joao.
But in spite of the changes, it was Dons who would capitalise on some weak defending to double their advantage five minutes after the break. Picking the pocket in the centre of the park, Carruthers timed his ball to Maynard perfectly as he sprung the offside trap to go one-on-one with Westwood. Needing no second invitation, he rolled the ball past the advancing keeper with ease to make it 2-0.
And it could have been three on the hour mark when Murphy, Hall and Maynard burst forward with pace. Hall drew out Westwood to leave the goal gaping, but his cross was well-short of Maynard, who had ghosted to the far post, and the chance went begging.
Wednesday began to assert themselves on the game after that though. Some slick passing had Dons at sixes and sevens at the back, but Martin was never really tested. Barry Bannan was proving a tricky customer to keep tabs on as he floated between the midfield and attack, but he struggled to carve himself or indeed Wednesday anything concrete.
But that was until Gary Hooper lashed home from 10 yards, converting Daniel Pudil’s cross with 13 minutes still remaining to reduce the deficit to one.
It would mean all hand to the pump for the remainder of the game as the home side desperately clung on. Wednesday kept the pressure up deep into the five minutes added on as Robinson watched on crouched in the corner of his technical area, but erupted with celebration as the final whistle sounded.
With results at Charlton and Derby going their way, Dons climbed back to 20th in the table, out of the relegation zone once more.
Referee: Darren Deadman
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Potter, Carruthers (Poyet 85), Hall (Reeves 69), Baker, Murphy, Maynard
Subs not used: Cropper, Hodson, Bowditch, Gallagher
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Hunt, Loovens, Turner, Pudil, Sougou (Hooper 56), Lopez (Wallace 44), Lee, Bannan, Forestieri, Nuhiu (Joao 46)
Subs not used: Wildsmith, Semedo, McGugan, Helan
Booked: Forestieri, Lopez