MK Dons returned to winning ways – and secured themselves, at least, a fourth-placed finish – thanks to a 2-0 victory over Morecambe at Stadium MK.
Harry Darling put the Dons ahead with a stunning solo goal on 20 minutes before Daniel Harvie sealed victory in the second half with his first goal of the campaign.
The result confirms Liam Manning’s men, at the very least, a fourth-placed finish this season, though their focus will be on results in midweek and the opportunity, next weekend, to go one better than the play-off places.
Head Coach Liam Manning made two changes from the midweek defeat to Oxford United as David Kasumu and Theo Corbeanu came in to the starting XI to replace Josh McEachran and Hiram Boateng.
The first effort of note was an ambitious lob from Cole Stockton which Jamie Cumming watched over his crossbar. Morecambe threatened again moments later but Adam Phillips strayed offside at the crucial moment.
MK Dons produced their first attack on seven minutes, winning a free-kick midway inside Shrimps half. Scott Twine took it quickly and laid on for Harry Darling, whose long-range drive was deflected just over the crossbar.
On 13 minutes, Darling denied Arthur Gnahou with a vital tackle inside his own box. He then made a huge contribution at the opposite end with a stunning individual goal to give MK Dons the lead.
Picking up a Dean Lewington pass midway inside his own half, the centre-back carried the ball the length of the pitch, avoiding a number of Morecambe challenges, before cutting back onto his right foot and slotting past Trevor Carson. A fantastic effort. 1-0.
In search of a quick-fire second, Twine earned the Dons a free-kick from which forced a save out of Carson. Corbeanu then went close with an angled strike which Carson got a strong left hand to.
On 34 minutes, a cross-field pass from Kaine Kesler Hayden out to Daniel Harvie provided the Scot with an opportunity cutting in on his right foot but his strike was blocked by a defender. Corbeanu also had a Morecambe man in the way of a right-footed effort.
Corbeanu and Kesler Hayden were involved in a Dons counter attack with two minutes to play in the half but the former’s ball across for Troy Parrott was intercepted by Carson. That was the final action of a comfortable first-half for Liam Manning’s men.
Half-Time – MK Dons 1-0 Morecambe
Corbeanu tested Carson early in the second half but the Shrimps stopper made the save diving left towards his near post. Twine also forced a diving save out of Carson, following a quickly taken free-kick, 25 yards from goal.
A stoppage for an injury to Twine stalled some early second-half momentum but the MK Dons number nine was okay to continue. He later had a try from the edge of the D which flashed wide of the post.
McEachran for Kasumu was Manning’s first change of the game with 72 minutes played. His side then doubled their lead six minutes later courtesy of Harvie’s first goal of the season.
Darling started the move off with a terrific ball out to Parrott, who cut in from the left and found Harvie, who moved central before finding the net from the edge of the D with a low drive past Carson.
Stockton offered a reminder of Morecambe’s threat with an ambitious long-range strike which sailed harmlessly wide. Lewington then got in the way of Adam Phillips’ try.
Kelser Hayden went close to a third with seven minutes to play but he was denied, one-on-one, by the legs of Carson. Manning then went to his bench for a second time, handing minutes to Dan Kemp in place of Twine.
The Dons saw out the remainder of the contest with relative ease, doing their job ahead of one big final week of action in Sky Bet League One.
Full-Time - MK Dons 2-0 Morecambe
MK Dons: Cumming, Lewington, O’Hora, Darling, Kasumu (McEachran 72), Twine (Kemp 86), Corbeanu, Coventry, Parrott, Harvie, Kesler Hayden.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Smith, Baldwin, Boateng, Mason.
Goals: Darling (20), Harvie (78)
Booked: Kasumu, Lewington
Morecambe: Carson, Leigh, Bedeau, Diagouraga, Stockton, Connolly, Phillips, Gibson, Gnahoua (Ayunga 60), Fane (McLoughlin 73), Bennett.
Subs: O’Connor, Wildig, Cooney, McCalmont, Smith.
Booked: Gibson, Connolly, Phillips, Ayunga
Referee: L Swabey
Attendance: 10,121 (401 away)