MK Dons made it back-to-back wins to end 2020, courtesy of a dominant 4-1 victory over Swindon Town at the Energy Check County Ground.
Cameron Jerome set the Dons on their way just four minutes in with a first-time finish after Matej Kovar had parried Ben Gladwin’s shot. Daniel Harvie then doubled the lead, racing onto Scott Fraser's pass before beating the Swindon goalkeeper with a delicate chip.
The hosts halved the deficit through a stunning Jack Payne strike but Russell Martin’s men were able to restore their two-goal advantage before half-time – Jerome netting his second of the game after beating the offside trap from Gladwin’s through pass.
An uneventful second half followed but the Dons were able to put the icing on the cake of an excellent away performance when Poole headed home a Harvie cross with 13 minutes left to play - sealing a 4-1 win which lifts Martin's side up to 14th in the Sky Bet League One table.
MK Dons were without 10 first-team players for their trip to Wiltshire but made just one change to the starting XI, with Baily Cargill coming in for the injured Warren O’Hora. The long list of absentees meant only six substitutes were available to Russell Martin, including two goalkeepers - Lee Nicholls and Laurie Walker.
Martin spoke about the importance of starting well in his pre-match interview and his side did exactly that, taking the lead inside the opening four minutes through Jerome.
Lewington started the attack with a strong tackle on half-way and it was his cross that was cleared only as far as Ben Gladwin. Gladwin’s strike was saved well by Matej Kovar but Jerome was on hand to convert the follow up, despite Kovar’s best attempts to keep it out. 0-1.
The Dons came forward with Harvie shortly after the re-start but his looping cross was claimed inside the six-yard box. Harvie was behind the Dons backline again with a quarter of an hour played, but was flagged offside as we latched onto Scott Fraser’s excellent pass.
Harvie found himself in again on 26 minutes, beating the offside trap and an on-rushing Kovar to the ball. The angle was tight, though, and his effort was kept out.
The Scot was having plenty of joy down the left and it was no surprise when he got himself on the scoresheet with 27 minutes on the clock.
Gladwin switched play superbly to Fraser, who first-time ball was perfectly weighted for Harvie who ran onto the pass before clipping a delightful chip over a committed Kovar and into the net to double the lead. 0-2.
The Dons were in complete control but saw their lead cut in half with eight minutes to play in the first half, courtesy of a stunning long-range drive from Payne – one which left Fisher with no chance, diving to his right. 1-2.
Martin’s men almost restored their two-goal lead instantly but Jerome’s ball across goal wasn’t converted by Gladwin and Fraser, who were just a step behind the delivery.
Jerome, though, would re-double the Dons’ lead on 40 minutes, beating the offside trap from Gladwin’s pass and keeping his cool one-on-one to slot a second goal of the night past Kovar. 1-3.
Swindon responded at the start of the second half but Martin’s men did well to keep them at bay.
They did allow Brett Pitman to get a header away on 59 minutes, but the effort flew harmlessly over. Fisher also had to be alert to gather a loose ball in the area after his defence failed to properly clear a cross.
Martin made his first change with 63 minutes played, replacing Gladwin with Joe Mason. The substitute thought he’d won his side a penalty immediately after coming on but referee Sam Purkiss didn’t deem Kovar’s trip on the striker as worthy of a penalty.
At the other end, Fisher pulled off a terrific save to deny Payne a second goal after he had pounced on a loose clearance. It took a Cargill block moments later to prevent Payne’s ball back across goal from reaching a teammate.
With 16 minutes to play, Mason had a header saved by Kovar – a relatively tame effort which the Swindon goalkeeper was able to gather comfortably.
The Dons were able to find a fourth goal to make the game safe on 77 minutes, following an excellent spell of short-sharp passing deep inside the Swindon half.
Eventually, play was switched over to Fraser who, in turn, found Harvie and his delivery was perfectly placed for his fellow wing-back, Poole. The defender then did brilliantly to contort his body and get enough power and placement on the header to beat Kovar. 1-4.
Any chance of a late Swindon salvo was ended when they were reduced to 10 men on 83 minutes – substitute Rob Hunt shown a straight red card for a terrible tackle on Poole, which forced the defender off the pitch.
He was replaced by John Freeman, who was joined on the field of play by 16-year-old Lewis Johnson for his second league appearance in quick succession.
Swindon, to their credit, kept fighting and threatened Fisher on two occasions late on. The goalkeeper, though, was eager not to be beaten for a second time and produced two excellent saves to keep the score at 4-1.
That was how it ended in Wiltshire, as Russell Martin’s men signed off 2020 in style.
MK Dons: Fisher, Lewington, Keogh, Cargill, Poole (Freeman 85), Gladwin (Mason 63), Fraser, Surman (Johnson 85), Sorensen, Harvie, Jerome.
Subs: Nicholls, Walker, Davies.
Goals: Jerome (4, 40), Harvie (27), Poole (77)
Swindon Town: Kovar, Fryers, Conroy, Grounds (Caddis 48) Baudry (Lyden 68), Jaiyesimi, T Smith (Pitman 46), M Smith, Odimayo (Hunt 46), Payne, Grant (Stevens 46).
Subs: Fryer, Curran.
Goal: Payne (39)
Red card: Hunt
Referee: S Purkiss