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Match Report


Posted Wed 02 Feb 11 at 23:29 PM


Ten-man MK Dons climbed back into the League 1 play-off places as they held off a late Bristol Rovers fight-back to secure a valuable three points at the Memorial Stadium. Karl Robinson's men looked to be cruising against their struggling hosts when Daniel Powell slotted them 2-0 in front on the hour, adding to Sean O'Hanlon's first-minute opener. But O'Hanlon was sent off for a second bookable offence shortly afterwards, prompting a Rovers revival. And Jeff Hughes set up a nervy finish when he rammed home an 83rd-minute penalty after Mathias Kouo-Doumbé had blocked Rene Howe's shot with an arm. But the 10 men onto their lead in the closing stages - showing fantastic spirit and determination - and recorded their second away win in three games while extending their unbeaten run on the road to four. Knocked out of the play-off places by results the previous evening, the Dons reverted to the 4-2-3-1 formation that has served them well on the road this season. O'Hanlon and Powell were recalled to the starting eleven, with skipper Dean Lewington subsequently restored to left-back. Sean O'Hanlon celebrates his first-minute opener.   Hammered 6-1 by Walsall at the weekend, Bristol Rovers showed four changes - all of them debutants as Cian Bolger, Scott Davies, Howe and Jean-Paul Kalala - sent off against the Dons in a Yeovil shirt last month - came into the side. Beaten so comprehensively at the weekend, the last thing a Rovers with fragile confidence needed was to concede an early goal, particularly from a set-piece - a source of three for the Saddlers on Saturday. But less than 50 seconds were on the clock and they were behind, as Peter Leven whipped a devilish ball into the box from the right and O'Hanlon glanced his third goal of the season in off the left-hand upright. It was a sizeable setback for the hosts, who would be chasing the game from that point, though they did come close to a response on seven minutes when Jeff Hughes headed in a Byron Anthony cross, only to be flagged offside. The Dons sought to press home their advantage and nearly doubled the lead three minutes later, Luke Chadwick playing one-twos with Powell and Jabo Ibehre on the edge of the box before slipping the latter in the clear - Luke Daniels saving well with his legs. Danny Woodards made some telling blocks in defence.   As O'Hanlon and Mathias Kouo-Doumbé efficiently kept the dangerous Will Hoskins quiet, Stephen Gleeson mopped up endless loose balls in the middle of the park and Rovers struggled to build the head of steam they needed. While not quite at their fluid best, the Dons were still a handful going forward - particularly Ibehre, who sought to pressurise a Rovers defence that lost former Don David McCracken to injury on 20 minutes. Just six minutes later, Ibehre was rolling Anthony in the inside-right channel and his cross from the right was hooked just wide by the improvising Chadwick. Rovers' best spell of the first half came with about seven minutes to go before the break - a string of high balls into the Dons box applying pressure to Martin's six-yard box, but a shot from Kalala blocked by Woodards the only effort of note. Ibehre headed another dangerous free-kick onto the roof of the net as the Dons finished the half the stronger, but the break would have been welcome nonetheless. Rovers boss Dave Penney would have hoped to inspire his team during the interval, but they emerged with little more purpose as the Dons continued to make most of the meaningful running. Lewis Guy looks to pass Cian Bolger.   Ibehre curled a gorgeous effort just over the bar from outside the box on 53 minutes and then played a telling role as the Dons doubled their lead just after the hour-mark. Rovers keeper Luke Daniels failed to get enough purchase on a clearance from inside his penalty area and Leven read the situation brilliantly, heading into the feet of Ibehre. Powell was already on the move, bursting forward to join the attack and Ibehre's reverse pass was so well-weighted that the youngster didn't break stride before slotting his third goal of the season. It so nearly got even better two minutes later when a booming headed clearance from O'Hanlon allowed Lewis Guy and Ibehre to set Gleeson loose down the right. The Irishman's cutback was perfect for Leven, but his whipped 20-yard effort was tipped round the post by Daniels. Powell slides home the Dons' second on the hour.   Anthony forced Woodards into another magnificent block inside the Dons box as the hosts tried to mount a fight-back and their hopes received a boost with O'Hanlon's dismissal. Booked for a check on Howe earlier in the half, the Dons defender was walking a tightrope and when his legs collided with Hoskins' as the pair chased a ball over the top, a second caution was inevitable. Martin did superbly to cling to Gavin Williams' brilliantly-struck resulting free-kick and Robinson sent on Gary MacKenzie and the experienced Rowan Vine to ensure the ship would remain steady. If anything, Vine should have made the points safe 15 minutes from time when, after exchanging passes with Chadwick on the edge of the box, the on-loan QPR striker failed to convert from a yard after Chadwick's shot had been saved. Keanu Marsh-Brown came on for his Dons debut.   But, with a one-man advantage, Rovers would inevitably come knocking and it was substitute Jo Kuffour that sparked them into life - hooking an excellent effort off the outside of the far post before Howe's shot cannoned off the arm of Kouo-Doumbé. Hughes showed the necessary composure to beat the correctly-guessing Martin from the spot and a grandstand finale was well and truly on. Dons debutant Keanu Marsh-Brown, introduced off the bench, forced Daniels into a decent near-post save as the Dons sought to get on the front foot. But they had Martin to thank for another sharp save at the death as he plunged low to his right to keep out a well-struck Hughes shot. Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Daniels; Anthony, Bolger, McCracken (Williams 20), Sawyer (Kuffour 69); Davies, Campbell (c) (Regan 46), Kalala, Hughes; Howe, Hoskins. Subs not used: Green, Richards, Reece, Swallow. Goals: Hughes 83 pen Booked: Bolger, Anthony MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Woodards, O'Hanlon, Kouo-Doumbé, Lewington; Gleeson, Leven; Powell (Vine 71), Guy (MacKenzie 69), Chadwick; Ibehre (Marsh-Brown 79). Subs not used: Searle, Stirling, Amoo, Chicksen. Goals: O'Hanlon 1, Powell 61 Booked: O'Hanlon, Vine, Marsh-Brown Sent off: O'Hanlon 67 Attendance: 4,829 (99 away) Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)

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