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Match Report


Posted Sat 10 Dec 11 at 16:53 PM


Milton Keynes Dons moved up to third place in the npower League 1 table with a 2-0 reverse win against Tranmere Rovers.

Jabo Ibehre broke the deadlock at Prenton Park with a close-range finish that saw him take his individual goal tally to six for the season and when Shaun Williams showed great composure to net the Dons' second in the 60th minute the visitors all but had the points wrapped up.

Although Tranmere entered the game in a poor run of form - without a win in six - they had only conceded six goals at home but that did not prove a problem for the free-scoring Dons who have now scored 62 goals in all competitions.

The victory could have moved the Dons into the automatic promotion places, but Sheffield Wednesday's victory meant Karl Robinson's men took third place and moved within eight points of League leaders Charlton.

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Boosted by the news that both David Martin and Darren Potter were fit for the game, the Dons made two changes to the side that booked their place in the FA Cup Third Round seven days earlier with Mark Beevers and Luke Chadwick returning to the side.

Beevers replaced Tom Flanagan to partner Gary MacKenzie in defence, the towering centre-back pairing were given the task of keeping a close eye on the powerful Rovers striker Enoch Showunmi. The forward had been a doubt for the game, but with him in the starting line-up for Rovers the Dons defence would always be tested by the ex-Luton man.

Showunmi showed why he is the home side's danger man with his pace down the left allowing him to deliver to the right of the box for Lucas Akins, fortunately for the Dons, who were still recovering; the winger's heavy touch took the sting out of the move.

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It was a slow-burning start from the Dons and mistakes from both sides were creeping into the game. As Adam Smith tried to mop up at the back MacKenzie's clearance found Andy Robinson who duly crossed the ball in for Akins, this time his header safely nestled into David Martin's arms.

A moment later the Dons showed, although they had not been close to their best in the opening phases, they were always capable of hurting Rovers when Smith, in his usual advancing role from right-back, provided the perfect cross for Jabo Ibehre to finish inside the six-yard box to give the Dons the lead.

Tranmere threatened to hit back when Showunmi's drill from distance whizzed inches wide of the post before John Welsh drilled an effort through a crowded box for Martin, having seen it late, to push away.

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The threat from Rovers, often direct in their style of play, continued with Martin once again in action to save a well-hit scissor-kick strike from Jose Baxter. The shot had taken a late deflection which forced the Dons keeper to correct his positioning as he collected the ball above him.

Rovers had applied a good amount of pressure on the Dons and continued to ask questions of the visitors' defence with the route one football, meaning chances to extend the lead were few and far between for the Dons.

Some good vision from Darren Potter saw him fizz a dangerous cross into the box which caused some disarray in the box but Chadwick, launching his body at the chance, only to stab the ball wide and high.

The men from MK1 showed flashes of their stylish football that has earned them such a strong reputation in the League when Shaun Williams threaded a pass to the feet of Smith, who was waiting in the box. Smith's looping cross was difficult to meet, yet somehow Ibehre managed to twist his body to send a head goal-bound only for all the good work to be ended by a block from Paul Rachubka's leg.

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Half-time brought a change for Rovers with Adam McGurk replacing Akins, an interesting change for Tranmere as the winger had been bright down the right-hand side.

A foul by Dean Bowditch presented the home side with a chance to get the equaliser but Andy Robinson's direct free-kick was sent straight at the body of Martin.

Great link-up play between Ibehre and Chadwick carved open the Tranmere defence, Charlie MacDonald was able to pass the ball back into the path of Chadwick which allowed him to force a superb tip over from Rachubka as he denied Chadwick's dipping strike from distance.

On the hour-mark the Dons got the second they had been seeking when good play at the back from Beevers set them on their way. A strong header from the defender was held up by MacDonald and the ball was knocked forward, Williams found himself clear through on goal and with only the keeper to beat he showed bags of confidence with a composed finish.

Tranmere had their best chance to pull a goal back in the 65th minute when a free-kick 25-yards out had three Rovers players waiting over the ball. Eventually the well-worked set-piece saw Baxter send a thunderous dead-ball delivery crashing against the bar, Dons fans still had their hearts in their mouths as Showunmi picked up the loose ball and after a touch, with the goal at his mercy from six-yards, the forward inexplicably blasted into the stands.

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Tranmere lacked the spark that they had shown at the start of the game, but one goal was all they needed to re-energise the players and fans. That goal could have come when a blocked cross from McGurk fell straight at Welsh but the Rovers captain dragged his shot inches wide.

A challenge by Williams saw him pick up his fifth booking of the season which will result in the striker missing the live late kick-off game against Preston North End next week.

Late changes for both sides interrupted the flow of the game as proceedings became a formality. While the excitement fizzled out the Dons fans were sent home from the Wirral delighted with three more points in the bag.

Tranmere Rovers: (4-4-1-1): Rachubka; Kay, McCrystal, Taylor, Buchanan; Akins (McGurk 45), Welsh (c), Weir (Labadie 75), Robinson; Baxter; Showunmi (Tiryaki 70).

Subs not used: Coughlin, Holmes.

MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Smith, MacKenzie, Beevers, Lewington (c); Williams, Potter; Chadwick (O'Shea 90), Ibehre (Balanta 82), Bowditch (Powell 80); MacDonald.

Subs not used: McLoughlin, Kouo-Doumbe.

Booked: Bowditch, MacDonald

Goals: Ibehre 19, Williams 60

Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)

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