Ryan Lowe’s second goal of the season saw MK Dons record a 1-0 win over Leyton Orient at stadiummk on Wednesday night.
The Dons striker broke the deadlock for the Dons in the 41st minute after a sustained period of pressure from the home side.
There was a familiar story though for the Dons with Orient goalkeeper Ryan Allsop producing an inspired performance to keep the score-line limited with an array of excellent save, most notably from Lowe and Luke Chadwick.
Struggling Orient, who sit in 20th place, had a Kevin Lisbie equaliser ruled out in the 90th minute for what appeared to be a hand ball and Russell Slade was sent off by the referee during a difficult night for the O’s.
The victory moved the Dons back up the table into eighth place to within one point of the play-offs and six points behind second-place.
Returning to League action the Dons were aiming to take maximum points from a struggling Leyton Orient side. There were early signs of promise for the Dons when Jon Otsemobor released Luke Chadwick only for the midfielder to turn his tame shot straight at Ryan Allsop.
The encounter was scrappy, with both teams looking for victory to propel them at opposite ends of the table, and there was little too excite the mid-week crowd at stadiummk.
With most of the game played in midfield Angelo Balanta tried to bring the game to life with an ambitious 35-yard strike. Luck, however, does not appear to favour the brave when it comes to the Dons as O’s goalie Allsop failed to keep hold of the ball, yet as it popped loose from his arms it bounced against the post to allow the ‘keeper a second opportunity to clear up.
The Dons were dominating the gritty game and kept Allsop busy between the sticks with Dean Bowditch forcing a stop from close-range on the right and Stephen Gleeson saw a low drive deflected just wide.
The home side were able to get in behind the O’s defence, which included former Dons captain Ben Chorley, but their early battle - as it has been on countless times this season - was getting the better of the goalkeeper. Meanwhile, David Martin at the opposite end of the pitch remained quite in front of the Cowshed.
Just before the half-hour mark tension in the game rose when a tangle between Dean Lewington and David Mooney resulted in an off-the-ball incident in which the Orient striker appeared to kick out at the Dons skipper. The incident had taken place in front of the Dons bench and when no punishment followed, the frustration was evident for the Dons management.
Soon the question for the Dons was, what would they have to do to break the deadlock?
Lowe, who joined in the summer from Sheffield Wednesday but has struggled to find his rhythm in Dons colours, showed his ability when he turned Chorley inside out before cutting into the box to fire a fine shot which produced an excellent one-handed tip over from the in-form Allsop.
For all the good work the Dons had produced in front of goal, they were almost undone when a rare defensive lapse was pounced on by Scott Wagstaff. The former Charlton striker breached the six-yard box with ease but could not get beyond the block of Shaun Williams.
Dons were living by the mantra of ‘if you knock loud enough, someone will hear you’ which is exactly what happened four minutes from the break. With bodies piling forward Bowditch fizzed in a delicious cross and Lowe’s movement allowed him to thrash home the opener.
The goal was only Lowe’s second since moving to MK1 and the relief that followed in the celebration for everyone to see.
There were however, early scares in the second half as Orient threatened to find the equaliser when Mooney forced two strong saves from Martin within minutes of the re-start.
The Orient forward was a thorn in the Dons’ side as he proved a real threat, this time he was found on the right and was yet again denied a leveller by Martin. While the Dons had quite clearly been on top there appeared to be a need for a second goal to strengthen their grip on the game with Mooney looking ever-more-likely to find the O’s a way back into proceedings.
After a bright period in the game, a lull greeted the play as Orient put up more fight but with little bite in front of goal.
The Dons showed they were still hungry though when in the 68th minute a cross delivered at pace from Balanta on the right was met by a fierce first-time shot by Chadwick. Once more though Allsop thwarted the Dons, on this occasion though the O’s goalie produced an incredible reaction save to lift the ball over the bar.
Winger Balanta continued to be the key creator for the Dons as he fed the ball to goal scorer Lowe and after twisting on the spot the forward turned his shot wide of the right post.
As added time was announced Orient thought they had grabbed a late, late equaliser when Lee Cook’s corner was headed in by substitute Kevin Lisbie. But, the referee Robert Lewis spotted a push in the box as he netted the ball and it was subsequently ruled out.
To make matters worse for the O’s they had boss Slade sent to the stands in the final moments.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Otsemobor, Kay (Kouo-Doumbe 83), Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Bowditch (Chicksen 75), Chadwick, Balanta; Lowe (MacDonald 81).
Subs not used: McLoughlin, A Smith, Alli, Sekajja.
Goal: Lowe 41
Leyton Orient: Allsop, Sawyer, Chorley, Griffith (Cox 74), Clarke (c), Odubajo, Cook, Rowalands (J Smith 81), James, Wagstaff (Lisbie 66), Mooney.
Subs not used: Jones, McSweeney, Baudry, Brunt.
Referee: Robert Lewis (Shropshire)
Goal-Don Goal times: 1st goal – 40.02