DONS leap-frogged Huddersfield into fourth place in League 1 after a comprehensive 3-0 win over Scunthorpe at Glanford Park on Saturday.
In a game that certainly won’t go down as a classic, Dean Bowditch slid home Dons’ opener on 11 minutes after great work from Charlie MacDonald. And Daniel Powell doubled the lead nine minutes into the second half, once again getting on the end of a MacDonald ball across the box. The fourth official played a huge hand in seeing Scunthorpe’s Jordan Robertson sent off with 19 minutes to go before Shaun Williams’ 40-yard strike made its way in late in the game.
Karl Robinson made just one change from the side that were comfortable winners against Tranmere Rovers on Easter Monday, with Alan Smith returning to the starting 11 at the expense of Jabo Ibehre who dropped to the bench.
It was a scrappy opening 10 minutes for both sides as they felt each other out. Dons were passing crisply, but struggled to make any impact on the Scunthorpe defence. That is until the 11th minute when a good move down the right allowed Powell space to get the ball across into the box. But the Scunthorpe defence had gone to sleep and left Charlie MacDonald and Dean Bowditch free in the centre, with the former slipping the ball to the latter to slide into the roof of the net, leaving Scunthorpe keeper Sam Slocombe defenceless and giving Dons a 1-0 lead.
Scunthorpe began to find their feet after falling behind came close to an equaliser seven minutes later when Jordan Robertson looked like he was through on goal, but Adam Chicksen, playing out of position once against at right back, made a last ditch challenge on the penalty spot to avert danger. Half-hearted penalty appeals for from United’s players were waved away by referee Carl Berry.
David Martin was a spectator for much of the opening half hour, but showed no signs that the cold was getting to him when he brilliantly saved Mark Duffy’s one-on-one after Dean Lewington slipped on the edge of the box to let the United man through.
Riding the maroon tide, Dons began to edge their way back into the game and could have doubled their lead 12 minutes before the break when Stephen Gleeson’s fierce low drive was spilt by Slocombe, but he pounced on it before Powell could get a toe to the rebound.
The drab first half came to a close, and threatened to spill over into the second. But when MacDonald broke the offside trap 10 minutes after the restart to slide the ball across for Powell, he could hardly miss as he fired the visitors into a two goal lead.
While the 238 travelling Dons supporters were in full voice, nothing could be heard of the home support, other than the groans of discontent as they watched their side struggle to keep hold of the ball, as Dons made them chase around the park.
And while the game won’t go down in the books as a classic, Dons had two great chances to extend their lead – first when Bowditch narrowly missed Lewington’s breakaway ball after Josh Walker’s tame free kick at the other end, and again when MacDonald got in behind only to see his shot well saved by Slocombe.
Dons have been left lamenting refereeing decisions all season long, but got one in their favour with 19 minutes to go when Jordan Robertson appeared to strike MacKenzie in the face off the ball. Initially, referee Berry waved away MacKenzie’s protest, but was called over by the fourth official and after their conversation, he returned to show Robertson a straight red card.
Dons looked to exploit their man advantage and came within inches of extending their lead when Lewington’s free kick on the edge of the box had keeper Slocombe beaten but he couldn’t beat the frame of the goal, though the keeper did brilliantly to pounce on MacDonald’s effort on the line.
Shaun Williams put the final nail in the Scunthorpe coffin five minutes from time when his outrageous 40 yard drive somehow made it through a crowd of players before skipping off the turf past the despairing dive of Slocombe to make it 3-0.
There was a late black mark on the game for Dons though as Martin went down injured, and was replaced by Ian McLoughlin.
With Huddersfield Town going down 1-0 to Preston at Deepdale, Dons leap-frogged the Terriors into fourth place in the table with just three games remaining. Next up for Dons is Sheffield United at stadium:mk.
Referee: Carl Berry
Attendance: 4,111 (238)
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe, Togwell, Mirfin, Byrne, Ryan, Robertson, Walker (Gibbons 70), Reid, Duffy (Jennings, 80), Barcham, Reckord
Subs not used: Lillis, Nolan, Canavan
MK Dons: Martin (McLoughlin, 90), Lewington, Chicksen, Williams, MacKenzie, Potter, Gleeson, Smith (Ibehre, 74), Powell, Bowditch (O’Shea, 66), MacDonald
Subs not used: Flanagan, Chadwick
Booked: Williams, Ryan