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Match Report


Posted Sat 28 Apr 12 at 16:54 PM


MK Dons tightened their grip on fourth place in League 1 with a 2-1 win over relegated Rochdale at Spotland Stadium.

If the Dons match Huddersfield's result against Yeovil Town next weekend they will secure a home advantage over the Terriers in the play-off semi-final, and improve on last year's final League standing.

The Dons never truly got out of third gear against Dale and after taking the lead through Jay O'Shea with only three minutes on the clock, the writing appeared to be on the wall for the rock-bottom side.

However, Dale put up a spirited fight and although Dean Bowditch's composed strike in the second-half extended the visitors' advantage, but Jean-Louis Apka Akpro earned the hosts a deserved consolation goal.

Brendan Galloway vs Rochdale

Brendan Galloway was handed his League debut at the age of 16 as the Dons made four changes to their starting line up. Jabo Ibehre, Jay O'Shea and Luke Chadwick also came into the side as Dean Bowditch, Charlie MacDonald and Dean Bowditch took their places on the bench.

Rochdale, whose relegation was confirmed last week, seemed to start brightly but the Dons quickly found the cracks in their shattered confidence as Luke Chadwick broke on the counterattack and eased through the Dale half.

The winger cut inside to pass the ball at the feet of O'Shea who took a few steps into the Dale box before firing through 'keeper Matt Edwards' legs to give the Dons the lead after three minutes.

Dale were not too despondent though as Joe Thompson found space down the right to whip in a cross for Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, but he was unable to connect with the delivery.

The game offered Robinson a chance to get some important minutes from O'Shea, Ibehre and Chadwick - who have all played roles from the bench in recent weeks - and it was also an opportunity for Galloway to make a name from himself in the Dons' first team.

An elegant player on the ball, Galloway was a star in the opening phases with some intelligent passes and a number of interceptions to prevent Dale breaching the Dons defence. When the home side did find gaps in the back four Thompson lacked confidence to finish the move as he shot straight down the throat of Martin.

Jay O'Shea vs Rochdale

The Dons looked comfortable even though Dale, at times, were doing their best to apply some pressure. When Robinson's men ventured forward they did so with intent and Dale began to ride their luck as Edwards turned away a shot from Stephen Gleeson, playing in a more advanced role, before the woodwork came to their rescue minutes later to deny O'Shea, this time from the right-hand side.

Dale though still had the ability to create openings at the opposite end, yet their composure in front of goal was their downfall. Dale captain Gary Jones should have done better when Akpa Akpro did well to cross the ball into the centre of the box, only for the midfielder to miscue his shot well wide.

To their credit, John Coleman's team showed great spirit as they kept up their hunt for an equaliser with a goal-bound effort by Akpa Akpro blocked excellently by Shaun Williams before a brave Gary MacKenzie stooped low to clear an overhead-kick and received a boot in the head for his efforts.

The game was slow burning after the break, yet when the Dons had to opportunity to double their lead they threw men forward. MacKenzie, still looking for his first goal of the season, showed neat feet when a corner found its way to him, unfortunately his low shot was straight at Edwards.

Adam Chicksen's recent run at right-back has been an impressive one but the left-footed full-back was turned by the strong Apka Akpro turns past him to cross into the box where Michael Symes' header was well saved by Martin.

In the 58th minute Galloway made way for Bowditch and it proved to be an inspired substitution as the forward's run down the left went unnoticed by the Dale defence allowing him to ghost into the box and with his second touch of the game he tucked O'Shea's pass into the bottom corner to extend the Dons' advantage.

Pete Winkelman

Coleman received some vocal reaction to a double substitution made but the introduction of Simon Hackney made Dale livelier in front of goal and his fiercely-struck effort from 20-yards forced a good save at the post from Martin. Moments later Akpa Akpro inexplicably missed an open goal from yards out and Kevin Amankwaah also had a long-range effort saved by Martin.

Five minutes from time Dale's persistence was rewarded with a goal when Akpa Akpro pounced on Kevin Long's header down and, after turning away from Tom Flanagan, he fired into the roof of the net.

Rochdale: Edwards, Darby, Widdowson, Amankwah, Kennedy, Jones (c), Symes (Adams 80), Long, Thompson (Hackney 63), Tutte (Gray 63), Akpa Akpro.Subs not used: Lucas, Holden.

Goal: Akpa Akpro 85

MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Chicksen, MacKenzie, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter (MacDonald 68), Galloway (Bowditch 57); Chadwick, Gleeson (Flanagan 72), O'Shea; Ibehre.

Subs not used: McLoughlin, Smith.

Goals: O'Shea 3, Bowditch 58

Referee: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire)

Attendance: 2,212

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