A spectactular Joe Walsh volley saw Dons pick up a vital 1-0 victory against Reading at stadium:mk on Saturday.
The Welshman’s first goal for the club came with 13 minutes to go and came as a fine reposte to the 5-0 thumping Dons suffered during the week against Burnley.
Until Walsh’s goal, Reading had had the better of the chances but couldn’t beat an in-form David Martin in the Dons net.
The victory ensures Dons remain two points clear of the relegation zone, and up to 20th spot in the Championship.
After being handed a 5-0 thrashing by Burnley in the week, Karl Robinson made two changes to his side - and one was enforced by Antony Kay’s suspension. Joe Walsh came in for cover, while Jake Forster-Caskey replaced Ben Reeves.
Reading came into the game on a shaky run themselves, to it was hardly a surprise that the opening 20 minutes were cagey with both sides keen to clear their lines to avert danger at the soonest opportunity. Long balls from deep were the order of the early stages too, with both defences having an easy time of any attacking play coming their way.
With Samir Carruthers playing in the advanced role, his partnership with Rob Hall was really beginning to flourish. The pair were linking up well, driving Dons forwards, adding some much needed excitement to the home side’s breaks. Ali Al-Habsi remained untested though, with a relatively routine tip around the post from a Maynard header all he had to do in the first half.
At the other end, David Martin had to be on his toes to deny Lucas Piazon, diving at full stretch to keep out the Chelsea loanee’s effort on the half hour.
Reading should have been a goal to the good going in at the break but for an astonishing miss from Matej Vydra. Gareth McCleary’s powerful run saw him skip past both McFadzean and Dean Lewington to be through on goal. With Jordan Spence back as cover, McClearly slid in Vydra to have a strike on goal, but he couldn’t test Martin, firing wide of the mark.
Martin continued to be the busier of the two keepers in the second half too, despite Dons having the better of the play for the opening 15 minutes. Oliver Norwood had the stopper at full stretch to keep out his immaculately timed volley, and he did well to keep out McCleary’s strike after Rob Hall got a block on Vydra’s initial effort.
Reading looked far more threatening in the second half as they piled forwards in search of the opener. Dons were looking to use the pace of Murphy to spark attacks from deep, but Nicky Maynard was left to chase hopefully in a bid to feed off any scraps left behind by the Reading defence.
The home side though absorbed the pressure and began to look dangerous on the break, and finally broke the deadlock from an unlikely source. Dons’ prowess from corners has been much maligned recently, but Rob Hall’s 77th minute set piece caught a Reading head on the way through lifting it high to the far post, where it found an acrobatic Joe Walsh to volley home from close range to put Dons unto a lead which had looked unlikely 10 minutes earlier.
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Attendance: 13,062, (2,190)
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Walsh, McFadzean, Spence, Potter, Forster-Caskey, Murphy (Bowditch 90), Carruthers (Hodson 90), Hall (Upson 86), Maynard
Subs: Cropper, Reeves, Church, Hitchcock
Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Taylor, Cooper, Ferdinand, Norwood (c), Williams, McCleary, Piazon (John 63)Robson-Kanu (Cox 82), Vydra
Subs not used: Bond, Keown, Quinn, Fernandez, Sa
Booked: Gunter, Taylor, Carruthers, McFadzean, McCleary