Sheffield Utd 0-1 MK Dons: Late Alli goal snatches it

Match report PNL-140212-192243002
Match report PNL-140212-192243002

Dele Alli scored with four minutes to go at Bramall Lane as Dons picked up an all-important win against fellow promotion contenders Sheffield United.

Tapping in Danny Green’s saved free kick at the death, Alli scored his second in as many games to ensure all three points made it back to stadium:mk.

In truth, Dons probably didn’t deserve to win the game on reflection. In fact, Alli’s was the only real chance of note. The home side though didn’t create an awful lot either, with a goal-less draw probably fair.

But the result means Dons climb a place into third in League 1, leapfrogging Preston on goal-difference.

Despite scoring a hat-trick on Saturday, Benik Afobe dropped to the bench for Tuesday night’s clash at Bramall Lane, replaced by Will Grigg as Karl Robinson’s rotation system continued to raise eyebrows. The rest of the team remained in tact from the comprehensive 6-0 win over Colchester.

If nothing else, it was a patient opening 15 minutes as both sides tentatively felt each other out. Having only played each other a little over a month ago, it shaped up to be a similar, tight affair.

David Martin was the busier of the two keepers, twice needing to dive to stop United shots, but neither had the teeth to really trouble the stopper.

The home side should have been ahead on the 20 minute mark though. Jordan Spence looked unusually shaky as Bob Harris and Jamie Murphy doubled up on him. Harris was given time on the United left to cross low across the face of goal, and with Ryan Flynn sliding in to knock it home, Antony Kay threw his body on the line to keep it out.

The partizan crowd got a bee in their bonnet about a few refereeing decisions against this side, though their anger was quickly converted to frustration as United spluttered in the final third. Jamal Campbell-Ryce was making all the right moves on the right hand side, but his delivery from wide areas left a lot to be desired.

There was little bite at the other end either though. Grigg’s first half was largely spent chasing lost causes, though the sponsor boards behind the goal felt the brunt of his right foot as he kicked out at another over-hit pass his way.

Ten minutes into the second half, he was given some much needed back-up in the form of Afobe, replacing Ben Reeves.

United continued to be the side doing most of the attacking work though. Hodson was second best to Campbell-Ryce for the most part, but winger struggled to put in a ball worthy of note despite getting regular opportunities. Stefan Scougall gave Martin an easy one from the edge of the box, while Jay McEverley had ideas above his station with a spinning volley which he sent wide.

Afobe almost created a breakthrough when he managed to get to the byline, but his unorthodox cross, though beating keeper Mark Howard, was just over Grigg’s head as he batted for it at the far post.

United thought they’d finally broken the deadline 14 minutes from the end when Marc McNulty headed into an empty net after a deep cross came back off the post, but Dons were saved by an earlier offside flag that the home supporters initially missed.

Dons looked fairly satisfied to take a point home with them, but when the opportunity to take all three revealed itself with four minutes to go, they snatched it with both hands. Antony Kay won a free kick right on the edge of the United penalty area, allowing substitute Danny Green the chance to step up. His low effort was well saved by Howard, but fell to Afobe, who in turn tapped it to Alli who made no mistakes in rifling in the winner.

As United piled forwards in stoppage time, Green picked up his second booking for kicking the ball away as time looked as though it was up, but Dons would hold on.

Referee: Lee Collins

Attendance: 17,030 (268)

Sheffield United: Howard, Harris, Basham (McGahey 86), Flynn, Doyle, Murphy, Scougall (Baxter 81), McEverley, Campbell-Ryce, McCarthy, O’Grady (McNulty 24)

Subs not used: Higdon, Reed, Turner, Adams

MK Dons: Martin, Hodson, McFadzean, Kay, Spence, Alli, Potter, Powell (Green 69), Baker, Reeves (Afobe 55), Grigg (Flanagan 90)

Subs not used: Bowditch, McLoughlin, Baldock

Booked: Hodson, Alli, Doyle, McFadzean, Kay, Green, Baxter, Afobe

Sent off: Green