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Match Report


Posted Sat 05 Nov 11 at 17:03 PM


A maiden wonder goal from Adam Smith helped inspire MK Dons come from a goal down to beat Rochdale 3-1 as they moved up to fourth in the League 1 table. The Dons were stunned when relegation-battlers Rochdale took the lead in the opening ten minutes through Brian Barry-Murphy, but a spectacular 35-yard thunderbolt from Smith got the home side back on level terms. From that point it was only ever going to be the Dons who went on to win as Charlie MacDonald doubled the lead five minutes later and Mark Beevers tucked his first Dons goal to complete the scoring. All the action came in the first half as the score remained the same at full-time. The 3-1 win maintains MK Dons' unbeaten League record at stadiummk. There was only one change to the Dons side that beat Walsall a week earlier with Adam Smith returning from his one-match suspension at the earliest opportunity. Although back to fitness Gary MacKenzie was unable to take his shirt back from Tom Flanagan, who retained his place in defence alongside Mark Beevers. Rochdale, having fallen into the bottom four, set-up in a defensive 4-5-1 formation. However, Dale stunned their hosts with nine minutes on the clock thanks to a wonderful free-kick from Brian Barry-Murphy. There had been little action, but Rochdale were presented with a free-kick at the right touchline. At the time it appeared the main their main threat would come from the bodies packed into the box, but in fact it was the great delivery, which was probably intended as a cross, from Barry-Smith who tucked the ball into the very top corner. The Dons, possibly shell-shocked from the visitors' early goal, were slow to start as they struggled to find their rhythm in the game, which encouraged Rochdale to push forwards. With 10 men behind the ball, the Dons had to be intelligent in their play to break down Rochdale. Yet, a touch of magic would also prove successful as Smith demonstrated eight minutes after the Dons had fallen behind. The ball fell perfectly for the right-back to show some audacious confidence as, from 35-yards-out, he sent a right-footed thunderous shot into the top corner of the net with David Lucas having little choice to watch it fly past him. It was a truly spectacular strike from the 20-year-old and earned him cries of 'shoot' from the stadiummk faithful, no matter of his positioning on the pitch. The Dons' confidence soared as a Rochdale team that had started so well began to show cracks and weakness. It was important for Robinson's men, who had draw five of their eight home games prior to the match, to convert the dominance that began to show and that is exactly what they did. Like their normal style, the Dons began to pass their way through Rochdale and when Daniel Powell's raw pace down the right came into play the expert poacher MacDonald was on hand to turn the ball home. At that point Rochdale's foundations began to shake, they had taken the lead but 13 minutes later they found themselves trailing, and the Dons were quick to add to their advantage. Rochdale were their own worst enemy as they failed to fully clear a corner, which allowed Darren Potter to find Luke Chadwick to the left of the box. The midfielder, on his 300th Football League appearance, was able to reach the byline before whipping in a cross-come-shot which drew the attention of keeper Lucas. With the loose ball in the six-yard box Beevers, at the second attempt, tapped home to give the Dons 3-1 lead. With a two-goal cushion the Dons had to ensure complacency did not sneak into their game, but inside a minute of the second half they showed their desire to keep extended their lead. MacDonald, with defenders surrounding him was able to dig out a shot to call Lucas into action, then Powell's cross saw MacDonald attempt an acrobatic scissor-kick but the ball fell into the path of Chadwick whose lofted shot forced Lucas to tip away with his fingertips. The home side continued to boss both the possession and the direction of the game, although their cutting edge in front of goal lacked the clinical touches they had demonstrated so well in the first half. Jabo Ibehre, playing in the hole behind MacDonald, caused Rochdale endless problems as his silky feet kept creating the avenues through to goal only for the Dons not to finish off the move. MacDonald came close to tucking home his second when Darren Potter and Chadwick combined down the left, but when the ball came in to the feet of the striker Dale's Lucas and Marcus Holness doubled up to block the shot. Looking to convert their dominance into further goals, the Dons introduced Dean Bowditch from the bench and the forward almost made an immediate impact when he linked up with MacDonald on the edge of the area and fired just inches wide. Rochdale might have been able to eat into the deficit when Gary Jones broke into the box but communication went wrong and the Dale captain was tripped by his own team mate. It could have been costly when the Dons went on the counterattack, yet Lucas was quick off his line to block a low effort from Powell. Angelo Balanta demonstrated his ability to hit a ball minutes from time when he lashed the ball with the outside of his left boot and left the upright shaking at the ferocity. MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Smith, Flanagan, Beevers, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Chadwick (Bowditch 75), Ibehre (Williams 89), Powell; MacDonald (Balanta 84). Booked: Ibehre Subs not used: McLoughlin, MacKenzie. Goals: Smith 17, MacDonald 22, Beevers 31 Rochdale AFC (4-5-1): Lucas; Darby, Holness, Holden, Jordan; Adams (Bunn 74), Jones (c), Barry-Murphy, Kennedy (Akpa Akrpo 63), Tutte (Eccleston 79); Grimes. Subs not used: Edwards, Gray. Goal: Barry-Murphy 9 Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire) Attendance: 7,120 (222 away)

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