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Match Report


Posted Sat 01 Oct 11 at 17:04 PM


MK Dons returned to winning ways in style with a 3-0 win over former Dons boss Martin Allen's Notts County at stadiummk, and Karl Robinson's men climbed back up to second place in the League 1 table.

County were always facing a challenge to take anything away from Milton Keynes when they were reduced to ten men in the fourth minute following Julian Kelly's deliberate handball.

Even with the man advantage the Dons were made to work hard for their victory as Shaun Williams' resulting penalty was saved by Stuart Nelson but Angelo Balanta's wonderful chipped finish gave the Dons a deserved half-time lead.

Notts County made it difficult for the Dons in the second half until their class shone through late on with Clinton Morrison scoring his first goal for the Club and Daniel Powell rounding off the victory in style minutes from time.

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Dons, on appearance, were strong and physical in defence with Mathias Kouo-Doumbe, involved in his first game since suffering ankle ligament damage in pre-season fitting into right-back while Gary MacKenzie returned to partner Mark Beevers following a three-match ban.

The game exploded into action in the fourth minute when a one-two between Luke Chadwick and Angelo Balanta caused havoc with the County defence and when the ball found Dean Bowditch on the left of the box and he curled in a superb goal-bound effort, which Julian Kelly pushed away with his arm.

The Notts County man had been spotted by the assistant referee and after a short consolation Darren Sheldrake showed Kelly a straight red for the deliberate hand ball and awarded the penalty to the Dons. However, the Dons were unable to take full advantage as Shaun Williams, who scored from the same spot days earlier against Charlton, was denied by Stuart Nelson as the 'keeper tipped away to his left.

The visitors were forced into their first substitution of the game with only seven minutes played as Kelly's dismissal called on a reshuffle meaning Alan Judge was sacrificed and former MK Dons utility man Jude Stirling was introduced.

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Knowing they had to take full advantage of their one-man advantage the Dons showed real intent as they pressed forward and kept County pinned back in their own half. When the Magpies did break the Dons' composure was evident for all to see, the calmness of MacKenzie as Lee Hughes pressed quickly allowed David Martin to take control and put the Dons back on the front foot.

From that moment the Dons found Clinton Morrison in space and the on-loan striker played the most delightful of passes into the path of Balanta. The lively winger, who was playing in the hole behind Morrison, showed bags of confidence as he spotted Nelson running to close him down so chipped over and into the net to give the Dons the lead they had been craving and deserved.

As expected with a Martin Allen side, Notts County worked well at their set pieces especially Stirling's long-throws, but the Dons were strong in their air as they competed for every ball.

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County were also well organised in defence, when the Dons couldn't get through they tried long-range efforts which included a stinging right-footed shot from Darren Potter which kept Nelson on his toes.

A brief stoppage to treat a blow to Kouo-Doumbe allowed the players a breather from the warm playing conditions, but the interruption was followed by a flat spell in the game which allowed Notts County to feature in more of the game.

The Magpies eyed up their equaliser to come distance as a flurry of long shots went in Martin's direction, including a fierce shot from Alan Sheehan's boot from 30-yards.

The second half started brightly for the Dons as they continued to stretch their opponents down both wings, yet the crosses into the box were struggling to get past the County bodies.

With more than 20 minutes to play the Magpies threw on Sam Sodje and to make maximum impact the defender went up front to add a strong aerial presence to their strike force. Lee Hughes though was the County player who continued to be a thorn in the Dons' side when his fierce first-time effort from the right of the box called on a find fingertip save from Martin.

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The Dons were desperate to extend their lead as County resorted more and more to route-one football. Chadwick was afforded the room to roam in midfield and a quick link-up with Bowditch allowed him to try his luck from outside the box but he dragged the low strike wide of the post.

At the other end a free-kick from Sheehan was initially blocked, but when the ball was delivered back into the box Sodje hit an overhead kick down the throat of Martin.

As time ticked away the Dons were finally able to put the result beyond doubt by showing the killer touches they had at times been lacking. And Bowditch was key as they turned on the style with the former Yeovil man crossing in for Morrison to turn in from inside six-yards before wheeling away to celebrate in front of the Cowshed.

Less than a minute later the Dons made it three when Bowditch, who had been energetic all day, moved with ease from the right flank into the middle before threading through to Powell. The wide man moved through the box, beyond two County players, and emphatically finished into the bottom corner to give the Dons a great win.

MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Kouo-Doumbe, MacKenzie, Beevers, Lewington (c); Potter, Williams; Chadwick (McNamee 87), Balanta (Powell 71), Bowditch; Morrison (Chicksen 89).

Subs unused: McLoughlin, Chicksen, Flanagan.

Booked: Powell

Goals: Balanta 11, Morrison 83, Powell 84

Notts County: Nelson, Kelly, Sheehan, Edwards, Pearce, L Hughes, Bishop (c), J Hughes, Judge (Stirling 7), Montano (Hawley 49), Mahon (Sodje 67).

Subs unused: Burch, Allen.

Booked: J Hughes, Bishop

Sent-off: Kelly 4

Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey)

Attendance: 7,620 (909 away)

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