MK Dons began 2019 in stunning style, returning to winning ways in Sky Bet League Two with a 6-0 victory ov at Stadium MK
Three goals in the first 12 minutes from Rhys Healey, Kieran Agard and Chuks Aneke had Paul Tisdale’s men in full control early on.
Healey, Agard and substitute Osman Sow then added further strikes to put the icing on a stunning home display and to secure a result which sees the second-placed Dons move four points clear in the automatic promotion places in Sky Bet League Two.
Boss Tisdale named an unchanged starting XI from the side which began the game against Northampton Town at the PTS Academy Stadium. The only alteration to the squad saw Sow replace Peter Pawlett on the bench.
His side started bright and they had the first effort of the match in the third minute - Healey forcing a save out of David Forde at his near post with a right-footed volley.
Healey was presented with another chance two minutes later and this time he made no mistake. George Williams delivered the cross from the right-hand side and Healey climbed well on the edge of the six-yard box to meet the ball and power a header past Forde. 1-0.
MK Dons went straight back on the attack and forced a corner which was sent in by Jordan Houghton. The ball was directed goalwards by the head of a Cambridge defender but Forde made the save.
Tisdale’s men were intent on scoring a second goal and they did just that with only eight minutes on the clock through Agard, who raced onto Cargill’s teasing ball at the near post and glanced a header across Forde and into the far corner of the net. 2-0.
It got even better for the hosts in the 11th minute when Dean Lewington's cross from the left was cleared only as far as Aneke, who rifled home his 13th goal of the campaign to make it 3-0. A simply stunning start by the Dons in front of the home supporters.
Aneke had a chance to double his tally just before the quarter hour mark but, after doing well to beat his man inside the area, he blazed a left-footed shot over the crossbar.
Cambridge offered their first threat of the game moments later but Alex Gilbey was on hand to clear away Jevani Brown’s cross.
Aneke then went close once again but the Dons' leading goalscorer wasn’t able to meet Agard’s low cross for what would have been a certain goal.
George Maris forced Nicholls into his first save on 18 minutes - the MK Dons number 1 was equal to the midfielder’s curling effort. Former Don Jabo Ibehre then tried to test him but fired over the bar after a driving run from half-way.
The United threat kept coming as the visitors searched for a way back into the game. Williams did well to get in the way of a strike from Reggie Lambe on 21 minutes before Liam O’Neil sent a right-footed drive a yard over Nicholls’ crossbar.
Their best chance at a goal inside the opening half an hour came on 28 minutes when Ibehre found himself behind the Dons’ backline. The striker had time to compose himself but his one-on-one effort was saved by Nicholls.
With seven minutes remaining in the half, Brown curled over for the U’s before Gilbey had a goalbound shot blocked at the other end of the pitch.
MK Dons kept their foot on the gas after that Gilbey chance and they soon saw Conor McGrandles flash a ball across the face of goal - one that would have found its way into the net via the slightest of touches from a teammate.
Cargill then had a fierce right-footed attempt blocked on 42 minutes, following a dazzling run down the left-hand side, before Ibehre went mightily close to pulling one back for the U’s with a header which struck the right upright.
Cambridge made a triple change at the interval in an effort to get themselves back into the contest.
Those substitutions had an instant impact, with the visitors hitting the crossbar and having a shot cleared off the line by Gilbey inside the opening minute of the half.
MK Dons responded and Gilbey saw a low left-footed shot deflect wide of Forde’s goal for a corner. McGrandles then went agonisingly close to his first goal for the Club as he raced onto Houghton’s lofted through pass and fired in a shot which stayed out of the net despite crashing against the underside of the crossbar.
Maris tried his luck for United on 53 minutes but couldn’t keep his rasping effort from distance down. Sub Ade Azeez then blasted over when he should have done better inside the penalty area.
On 58 minutes, Houghton drilled over following some excellent work from Agard down the left. The striker showed tremendous skill to flick a ball over the head of his opponent before spinning him and breaking away.
Forde then claimed a curling attempt from Healey before his opposite number, Nicholls, produced a stunning save to prevent Harrison Dunk from reducing the deficit with a close-range header.
The 7,000 Dons supporters inside Stadium MK were in a jubilant mood given their side’s advantage and they were celebrating a fourth goal in the 63rd minute. Healey was the scorer, racing onto Aneke's header and sending a neat left-footed finish under Forde. 4-0.
Tisdale withdrew Aneke midway through the second half which presented an opportunity for Sow to get minutes under his belt. He almost found himself on the scoresheet in the 70th minute as his block of a Cambridge clearance almost ended up in the back of the net.
Sow was involved in the Dons’ fifth goal, threading a ball through to Agard who was brought down as he went to pull the trigger. The striker picked himself up to take the spot kick and converted in style to make it 13 on the campaign. 5-0.
Agard thought he had his hat-trick with the next attack but his finish from Sow’s low cross was ruled out for offside. Agard went close again on 83 minutes, after some more excellent combination between the two strikers, but his effort rolled just wide of the right post.
While Agard couldn’t find his third, Sow was able to get on the scoresheet late on - and deservedly so. The Swede found Lewington with a pass and then raced to meet the captain's cross and, courtesy of a neat near-post flick, registered his first goal of the campaign. 6-0.
Sow's goal capped off an excellent afternoon's work for Tisdale's men, who go into the Emirates FA Cup break with plenty to smile about.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams, Baudry, Cargill; McGrandles, Houghton (Watson 77), Gilbey (D’Ath 79), Lewington (c); Agard, Aneke (Sow 67), Healey.
Unused subs: Moore, Hancox, Moore-Taylor, Simpson.
Goals: Healey (5, 63), Agard (8, 76 pen), Aneke (11), Sow (85)
Referee: C Breakspear
Attendance: 8,128 (1,048 away)