REPORT: Dons 3-0 Blackburn: Dons run 10-man Rovers ragged

Ben Reeves slots home the penalty.
Ben Reeves slots home the penalty.

Dons picked up their first win in two months as they stormed past 10-man Blackburn 3-0 at stadium:mk.

Adam Henley was sent off after just nine minutes when he hauled down Josh Murphy in the penalty area. Ben Reeves slotted home the spot kick as Dons dominated from there on. Coming close on a number of occasions, it took a bullet header from Simon Church in the 71st minute to put the game to bed but the home side were rarely in trouble against the depleted Rovers.

MK Dons celebrate vs Blackburn

MK Dons celebrate vs Blackburn

Reeves netted his second of the afternoon late on, beautifully latching on to Jake Forster-Caskey’s around-the-corner pass to make it 3-0.

The win, their first since beating Bolton on August 18, saw Dons climb the Championship table to 16th, having started the day 20th after Bristol City’s win over Nottingham Forest on Friday night.

After two weeks off, Dons return to action against Rovers making just one change to the side which started against Bristol City last time out, with Rob Hall replacing Carl Baker on the right flank. Samir Carruthers returned from suspension to make the bench.

And his influence was evident from the off, as his bright pink boots skipped through the Blackburn defence to test Jake Steele in the Rovers net inside the opening 60 seconds.

MK Dons celebrate vs Blackburn

MK Dons celebrate vs Blackburn

The lively combination of Hall and Josh Murphy looked dangerous in the opening stages, as Dons won a string of corners and looked the better of the two sides.

Robinson had lamented his side’s luck when it came to refereeing decisions this season, but they were handed a huge advantage after just nine minutes when Murphy raced in behind the Rovers defence, but was hauled back by Adam Henley. Referee James Linington wasted no time in not only awarding the spot kick, but also sending off Henley. Ben Reeves calmly sent Steele the wrong way to give Dons the lead.

After the frantic start, and being reduced to 10 men, Blackburn slowed the pace of the game as they began to see more of the ball, while tightening up at the back. With less space through the middle of the park, Reeves’ influence was muted, while the movement of Murphy and Hall was clamped down at Blackburn sat back.

When they did carved Blackburn open though, it resembled the free-flowing League 1 days. Rob Hall, ghosting into the box, was able to play a fine one-touch pass back to Jake Forster-Caskey, who was growing into the half, but his rifled effort was straight at Steele, who still had to be alert to save with his feet.

And the keeper was at full stretch again three minutes before half time when Simon Church, who until then hadn’t had a sniff, picked Shane Duffy’s pocket, leaving the defender face down on the turf. Racing into the box, and Hall in support, Church opted to go it alone but bent the ball just past the far post.

The second half, from Dons perspective, was far too open. Despite playing exciting, attacking football, Dons were left dangerously open at the back. Murphy continued to have the better of the Ben Marshall, who stepped in at right back, but Steele was a match for efforts from both Hall and Church as they fired in some fierce drives.

But at the other end, Blackburn were countering at pace, and only a diving stop from David Martin kept out Jordan Rhodes’ header as he nipped in front of Kyle McFadzean.

Blackburn even had a header cleared off the line, but it wasn’t to be as Church went up the other end and did one better. Rising highest to reach Murphy’s cross, Steele had no chance as the Welsh international powered his header past the keeper with 19 minutes remaining.

It could have been three barely two minutes later when Murphy stood Marshall up before brilliantly beating him only to see his strike skid just wide of Steele’s post.

Murphy was given the standing ovation when he left the field with four minutes to go after his stand-out performance, but the goal of the game was yet to come.

On the stroke of 90, Carl Baker rolled in the excellent Forster-Caskey, who seamlessly rolled around the corner to Reeves. From the corner of the six yard box, Reeves calmly bent it into the far corner for 3-0.

The result moves Dons up to 16th in the Championship, with a quick turn around they take on Huddersfield on Tuesday night.

Referee: James Linington

Attendance: 11,548 (1,378)

MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Kay, McFadzean, Spence, Poyet, Forster-Caskey, Murphy (Carruthers 86), Reeves, Hall (Baker 63), Church (Maynard 77).

Subs not used: Burns, Hodson, Powell, Gallagher

Blackburn Rovers: Steele, Henley, Duffy, Hanley, Olsson (Spurr 86), Marshall, Akpan (Delfoundeso 68), Evans (Williamson 68), Conway, Lawrence, Rhodes

Subs not used: Raya, Kilgallon, O’Sullivan, Taylor

Booked: Poyet, Akpan, Hall, McFadzean, Marshall

Sent off: Henley