Patrick Bamford netted his first, and MK Dons’ first, goal of the 2013/14 Sky Bet League 1 season to see his side to a 1-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra at stadiummk.
The Chelsea loanee found the back of the net in the 20th minute with a bundled effort in a first-half which was well dominated by the Dons. There was much more of a contest in the second-half with David Martin called on to make a string of good saves in the closing stages, while the Dons themselves could have added to the scoreline with Shaun Williams and Dele Alli forcing blocks from Alan Martin.
There were three changes from the side which recorded a goalless draw with Shrewsbury on the opening day with Patrick Bamford, George Baldock and Ben Reeves playing their way into the side in place of Alan Smith, Luke Chadwick and Dean Lewington (injured).
The Dons’ side was packed of youth with the attacking four’s average age just 19-years old; Crewe too were full with promising young players with a host of their starting XI coming through their ever-impressive youth system.
The hosts got off to a bright start in their opening home match of the new campaign with Bamford seeing an early free-kick blocked by the Crewe Alex wall while stand-in skipper Stephen Gleeson fired a half-volley straight at Alan Martin in goal.
Dons’ best chance in the early phases came when Darren Potter’s pass from midfield kick started an excellent move of football. Dele Alli and Gleeson combined on the right of the box before the latter, slightly mis-hitting his shot, moved the ball into the path of Bamford whose lobbed effort lifted just over the bar.
Crewe were not prepared to sit back and defend though, AJ Leitch-Smith pushed the visitors forward but his cross, intended for Ryan Colclough, was intercepted by George Baldock. A free-kick then presented the Railwaymen with another chance at goal but David Martin was able to collect Harry Davis’ header.
It took 20 minutes for the Dons to break the deadlock when Jason Banton showed his raw pace by bursting past Kelvin Mellor to reach the byline, the winger looked up to see Bamford had followed his run and the squared ball was bundled home by the Chelsea loanee.
Any momentum the Dons may have gathered from taking the lead was brought to a halt a moment later when a sickening clash of heads between Potter and Chuks Aneke resulted in a brief stoppage for treatment. Thankfully, both players returned to the field to continue the match.
The Dons were still in control with Bamford trying to double the lead with an effort from distance which fell wide, while Williams came within inches of adding his name to the score sheet with a free-kick which lifted over the wall, had the ‘keeper at full stretch but fell the wrong side of the upright.
Crewe should have found an equaliser, or at least tested David Martin, when Mellor and Colclough combined down the right-hand side to set up Max Clayton but the striker took a low first-time shot which was
Baldock almost made it 2-0 in stoppage time when he latched onto Reeves’ corner and the midfielder fired an excellent volley wide of the mark.
Dons started the second half as they had finished the first and were apply pressure on the Crewe defence with Alan Martin denying Williams from yet another free-kick and Mellor swiping the ball from the feet of Potter before he could force a shot from the follow-up.
The game opened up with Crewe hitting back with their own efforts at the opposite end of the pitch. Colclough found space on the right of the Dons’ box to play a smart ball through to Matt Tootle, whose curling strike dipped just over the bar.
As the tempo in the match lowered the need for a spark of excitement became evident as neither side appeared to have control of the match.
The Dons were almost caught out when a quickly-taken free-kick exposed a sleeping defence and granted Colclough freedom into the area. Fortunately, Williams recovered in time to make the challenge which raised penalty appeals from the host but referee Rob Lewis waved the claims away.
Youngster Alli tried his luck from distance and it wasn’t a bad effort either as the fierce drive from 30-yard left a stinging imprint on Alan Martin’s hands.
The other Martin between the sticks, this time in the Dons’ goal, was in the thick of the action when he rushed off his line to punch clear a looping ball which was also contested by Colclough. The Dons goalie managed to connect to clear the ball, but the Crewe forward was left in a heap on the floor.
Martin seemed to have kept the Dons’ three points in tact with four minutes to go when Michael West beat the offside trap to latch onto a chipped cross and fired what appeared to be a certain goal from 10-yards out, yet somehow Martin’s outstretched hand was able to lift the ball over the bar.
Izale McLeod, on the pitch for eight minutes, proved to be a handful for Crewe with his pace causing problems at the back. The striker came close to adding to the score in injury time with a curling effort but
his shot skimmed past the post.
There was a late scare in the last minute with a mix-up at the back feeding a Crewe body through to the box but Martin was again on hand to save at his feet.
In the end the one goal was enough to get the Dons up and running with their first three-point haul of the season.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): D Martin; Hodson, Kay, Williams, Reeves; Potter, Gleeson (c); Baldock, Alli, Banton (Chadwick 69); Bamford (McLeod 82).
Subs: McLoughlin (GK), Otsemobor, Flanagan, Smith, Curruthers.
Goal: Bamford 20
Crewe Alexandra: A Martin; Tootle, Mellor, Davis, Clayton (Turton 69), Osman (c), Leitch-Smith (Oliver 69), Ray, Aneke, Colclough, Grant (West 74).
Subs: Phillips (GK), Ellis, Dugdale, Robertson.
Attendance: 6,911 (349 away)