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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 29 Oct 11 at 16:53 PM

REPORT: WALSALL 0 MK DONS 2

MK Dons climbed up to fifth in the League 1 table as they recorded their first win in five games with a 2-0 victory against ten-man Walsall.

Walsall keeper Walker was dismissed in the 34th minute for a deliberate hand ball a yard outside the box, leaving the home side down to 10 men and forced to play right-back Lee Beevers in goal. The Dons made their advantage count before the interval with Dean Lewington curling home a magnificent free-kick and Jabo Ibehre, possibly in an offside position, tapping in on the stroke of half-time.

The home side then had manager Dean Smith banished to the stands during the interval, but Walsall came out galvanised in strong and bullish mood. Not only did they prevent the Dons from inflicting a heavier defeat, they also went close to scoring on a number of occasions with Claude Gnakpa seeing the best chance for Walsall hit both posts.

Dons' victory is their first since the 3-0 victory over Notts County at the start of the month and boss Karl Robinson will hope it sparks another run by his side.

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There were three changes to the Dons side that lost at Sheffield United in midweek with Mathias Kouo-Doumbe, Daniel Powell and Charlie MacDonald in for Adam Smith (suspended), Shaun Williams and Dean Bowditch respectively.

With MacDonald, in his first start since early September, leading the line it offered the Dons the poacher's touch they had been missing in recent games and allowed the creative three - Powell, Jabo Ibehre and Luke Chadwick - the chance to play dangerous balls in the box knowing of MacDonald's continued threat.

There was little in the way of goalmouth action in the opening ten minutes, but a good battle in midfield which forced the likes of Ibehre and Powell to drop deep in order to support the Dons.

The first real action of the game came in the 15th minute when Dean Lewington found former Saddler Ibehre inside the area only for the striker to see his shot cleared in the six-yard box. In the next attack Ibehre was again crucial as he held up play before laying the ball into the path of Potter, unfortunately, the midfielder was falling as he got his shot away and goalkeeper James Walker made the most comfortable of saves.

Walsall's strikers Jon Macken and Alex Nicholls were proving to be a handful for Dons duo Mark Beevers and Tom Flanagan. Their physical presence looked dangerous as Walsall slowly found their way into proceedings, and crosses into the box appeared to be the biggest threat coming from the home side.

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The Saddlers has gained some momentum and were beginning to press the Dons when a long clearance by Mark Beevers released the visitors on the attack. Ibehre picked up the long ball down field to bring Powell into the action. The combination of Powell and Chadwick was well tracked by the Saddlers with the eventual shot from Powell turned away for a corner.

Drama ensued at the Banks's Stadium in the 33rd minute when Walker was shown a straight card for handling the ball outside the area. It seemed like a close call by the officials as the Saddlers goalie raced to get to Potter's long ball before Powell could.

With a keeper on the bench right-back Lee Beevers found himself between the stick and he had no chance at stopping the resulting free-kick as Lewington lashed the delivery into the very top corner to break the deadlock.

The Dons doubled their lead on the stroke of half time when Lee Beevers spilt a Chadwick shot from close-range, who was able to latch on to a deflected Gleeson drive, and Ibehre, at his old ground, was able to turn home. There were appeals of offside from the Saddlers supporters but the Dons carried a 2-0 lead in at half-time.

The afternoon went from bad to worse for the Saddlers with news that manager Smith had been sent to the stands by the officials during the interval.

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Despite their numerical disadvantage, Walsall were fast out of the blocks at the start of the second half with Andy Butler seeing his stinging drive blocked by Flanagan and Claude Gnakpa powering his header over the bar.

If Dons had felt Lady Luck had deserted them recently she was certainly smiling down on them in the 61st minute when Gnakpa, who offered a renewed threat to the Saddlers, unleashed a low, powerful drive which had David Martin beaten. However, the Saddlers striker was denied at first by the far post, before it whizzed across the goal line and hit the opposite post without crossing the line.

Lee Beevers grew into the unfamiliar goalkeeping position making a strong save from MacDonald's low shot before collecting on his line to deny Kouo-Doumbe stabbing in a corner.

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Saddlers had plenty of fight about them and were not prepared to sit and defend in hope of conceding no more goals, instead the piled forward at every given opportunity. Mark Wilson was strong in midfield to hold off a challenge which allowed him to feed the ball to Sadler, Jamie Paterson was then able to pick up play on the left of the box and his fine effort was headed away by Kouo-Doumbe.

The Dons understandably bossed the play, yet struggled to add to their advantage as Powell and substitute Shaun Williams both had tame shots easily saved by Lee Beevers. Anthony McNamee, on with ten minutes remaining, had chance to show his trickery down the left flank as he teed-up Angelo Balanta, yet the winger also failed to place power behind his effort and Lee Beevers denied the Dons once again.

Walsall though, never gave up. In the 87th minute Martin was called to make a superb save to turn away a fine 25-yard strike. The Saddlers were unable to breach the Dons defence, but deserve the credit that will follow for a strong second half performance which came against the odds.

Walsall (4-4-2): Walker; L Beevers, Bulter (c), Sadler; Taundry, Wilson, Peterlin, Hurst (Gnakpa 45); Nicholls, Macken (Paterson 34).
Subs unused: Lancashire, Jarvis, Grigg.

Sent-off: Walker 33

MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Kouo-Doumbe, Flanagan, M Beevers, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Chadwick (Balanta 63), Ibehre, Powell (McNamee 80); MacDonald (Williams 72).

Subs unused: McLoughlin, Chicksen.

Booked: Chadwick, Gleeson, Williams

Goals: Lewington 36, Ibehre 45

Referee: David Phillips (West Sussex)

Attendance: 3,712 (484 away)

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