Dean Bowditch, on his first game back from a hip injury which has kept him out all season, scored the decisive goal as MK Dons beat Shrewsbury Town 3-2 at stadiummk on Saturday
Bowditch, who made his first appearance of the season as a 70th minute substitute, curled home a sweet right-footed strike to make sure of a valuable three points for Karl Robinson's side, after Dele Alli and debutant Chris Long had scored either side of a Ryan Woods goal in the first half. Joe Jacobson added a late consolation for Shrewsbury Town.
MK Dons started the game brightly and after just three minute, Stephen Gleeson crossed for Alli who beat goalkeeper Chris Weale to the ball and headed the Dons in front; the 17-year-old finding the back of the net for the third time this season.
However, the Dons' lead didn’t last long as just five minutes later Aaron Wildig burst into the penalty area and dragged the ball across goal for Woods to scramble into the net.
The game continued to excite as Stephen Gleeson fired a long range effort just over the bar after Dean Lewington set-up him from a free-kick before Ben Reeves twisted and turned down the right hand side and crossed into Alli, but this time he could only head over.
Moments later, Sidney Schmeltz found space in the area and drilled a low shot at goal, but David Martin did extremely well to save it and then, after Lewington’s header was fantastically saved by Weale, debutant Long was on hand to tap home and restore the Dons’ lead on 21 minutes with his first senior goal.
Karl Robinson’s side were playing some brilliant football but Shrewsbury went close to equalising again when David McAllister hit a fierce volley which flew just wide of Martin’s goal.
Lovely link-up play between Lewington and Carruthers then almost ended in Long grabbing a second but his flick landed the wrong side of the post and on the verge of half time, Weale saved well from Reeves’ dipping low drive.
Reeves began the second half how he finished the first as he showed quick feet to cut inside and hit a shot at Weale but the goalkeeper managed to get down to it and gather. McAllister could have then equalised when he headed a corner just off target, while, at the other end, Weale parried Antony Kay’s header away from danger.
After Daniel Powell had replaced goalscorer Alli, it was time for Dean Bowditch to return from injury and make his first appearance of the season as Robinson brought off Samir Carruthers.
And within minutes of that change, Bowditch fired brilliantly beyond Weale and into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box to double the Dons’ lead with 15 minutes left.
Shrewsbury did add a consolation late on through defender Jacobsen, who found himself in the penalty area after the Dons defence were caught napping but, with thanks to their goalkeeper Martin, the men from MK1 were able to hold and and close the gap on the play-off places to just four points with a game in hand.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Baldock, Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Reeves, Alli (Powell 62), Carruthers (Bowditch 70); Long (McLeod 82).
Subs: McLoughlin (GK), Chadwick, Smith, Galloway.
Goals: Alli 4, Long 21, Bowditch 75
Shrewsbury Town: Weale, Jacobson, Winfield, McAllister, Taylor, Wildig (Hall 46), Mkandawire (c), Goldson (Bradshaw 90), Woods, Eaves, Schmeltz.
Subs: Anyon (GK), McQuade, Marsden, Parry, Smith.
Goals: Woods 7, Jacobson 86
Attendance: 7,408 (441 away)
Goal-Don Treble Chance HT numbers: 14-04-05-01