MK Dons returned to winning ways in Sky Bet League One courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Oxford United – their first-ever league win at the Kassam Stadium.
Liam Manning’s men took the lead late in the first half through Matt Smith’s deflected effort, before doubling their advantage late in the second courtesy of substitute Will Grigg, who converted from the penalty spot.
Oxford United pulled one back in the final minute of the 90 but the Dons held on to secure a valuable three points to lift them above their hosts in the Sky Bet League One table.
Josh McEachran returned to the starting line-up for the first time since the opening day of the season as MK Dons made three changes from the midweek defeat to Bolton Wanderers, with Dean Lewington and Conor Grant also back in Liam Manning’s XI.
The Dons made a bright start and won a free-kick deep inside the Oxford half for a foul on Matthew Dennis. McEachran delivered but his cross was dealt with by the home defence.
McEachran was involved as Manning’s men threatened again on four minutes, sliding a pass through for Daniel Harvie who was unable to pick out Dennis with his low cross.
Oxford United had their first real opportunity on goal with 13 minutes played as Kyle Joseph blazed over from 20 yards out. The Dons then worked themselves back into the U’s penalty area, only for Grant to be crowded out as he searched for a pass.
On 20 minutes, after a good tackle from Daniel Oyegoke on the right-hand side, Smith spotted the run of Dennis and lifted a ball over the top of the Oxford defence for the striker to chase. He did get onto the pass but was denied, as he went to pull the trigger, by a flying last-ditch tackle from Sam Long.
That was followed by the Dons’ first shot on target which came courtesy of Daniel Harvie’s 20-yard drive – an effort saved by Simon Eastwood, the Oxford United goalkeeper.
The contest became scrappy following that chance on goal, with neither side finding any real space on the pitch to play or build momentum.
There was a good opportunity for the hosts on 35 minutes, from a Billy Bodin free-kick, but Joseph failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy. Oxford went even closer six minutes later as both Marcus Browne and Cameron Brannagan rattled the woodwork with two quickfire chances.
MK Dons, though, would make them pay just a minute later, taking the lead with a minute remaining in the first half.
The goal came from Devoy pouncing on a loose ball deep inside the U’s half and then finding Smith to his right. The MK Dons number seven took a touch to steady himself before firing a shot past Eastwood, with the help of a deflection off John Mousinho. 0-1.
Cumming was forced into a save in the first minute of first-half stoppage time but the Dons were able to see their advantage through until the break.
They returned for the second half with JJ Kayode on in place of Dennis up front. Kayode raced onto an early McEachran two minutes into his appearance but he was flagged offside.
Oxford tested Cumming shortly after as Browne forced a save out of the Dons goalkeeper from a 25-yard free-kick. Cumming couldn’t have done anything to prevent Joseph finding the net from Brown’s low cross moments later but, fortunately for him, the U’s striker wasn’t able to hit the target.
There was then a half-chance for the Dons as Harvie broke into the penalty area. He tried to tee up Kayode for a shot but the pass was intercepted by an Oxford defender.
The Dons came forward again on 55 minutes with Grant this time able to set up Harvie to his left, only for the wing-back to have his low drive blocked by a sliding Oxford man. Grant then got to the byline and cut a ball back for Kayode, who wasn’t able to fashion a shot on goal.
Just past the hour mark, Cumming produced a diving save to his left to keep Browne’s effort out. Joseph then fired over on the rebound.
Manning went to his bench with 67 minutes played to replace McEachran with Bradley Johnson in midfield. McEachran, who was on a booking, completing over an hour on his return to the starting line-up.
With 72 minutes played, Henry fired wide for the hosts while, at the other end, the Dons broke into the area but Harvie and Devoy were unable to link up.
Oxford were then awarded another decent free-kick opportunity with a quarter of an hour left to play – Browne, though, cleared the crossbar with his 25-yard attempt.
Will Grigg was brought off the bench for the final 12 minutes in place of Grant. His side almost doubled their lead soon after but, following a deep free-kick from Devoy, Tucker was denied on the half-volley by Eastwood.
Grigg, though, would have a say in the closing stages as he doubled MK Dons’ lead with six minutes to play.
Racing onto Smith’s through pass, the striker beat Eastwood to the ball before being brought down by the U’s goalkeeper. Referee Andrew Kitchen pointed to the spot and Grigg stepped up himself to fire home his third goal of the season into the top corner. 0-2.
Oxford responded by reducing the deficit in the final minute of regulation time through their captain Mousinho, who headed in from a right-wing free-kick. 1-2.
The Dons, however, weren’t to be denied victory, as they saw out the five minutes of stoppages to secure victory.
MK Dons: Cumming, Lewington, Tucker, O’Hora, McEachran (Johnson 67), Smith, Oyegoke, Grant (Grigg 78), Harvie, Devoy, Dennis (Kayode 46).
Subs: Ravizzoli, Burns, Lawrence, Jules.
Goals: Smith (44), Grigg (84 pen)
Oxford United: Eastwood, Long, Findlay (Goodrham 64), Bodin (Bate 64), Brannagan, Browne, Mousinho, Brown, Henry, McGuane, Joseph (O’Donkor 78).
Subs: McGinty, Gorrin, Anderson, Seddon.
Goal: Mousinho (89)
Referee: A Kitchen
Attendance: 8,141 (715 away)
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