MK Dons 0 AFC Bournemouth 3
Ten-man MK Dons were condemned to a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of promotion hopefuls AFC Bournemouth.
An early defensive error was pounced on by Lewis Grabban inside the opening 10 minutes, but it was the dismissal of Ryan Lowe in the 44th minute that sparked problems for the Dons. The Cherries doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time through Marc Pugh, yet the Dons showed some fight in the second half.
The man advantage of Bournemouth was always going to make life tough for the Dons and when Harry Arter produced a fantastic free-kick late on, he only compound a miserable afternoon for the hosts.
The Cherries went into the game having lost just once in 18-League games and their sky-high confidence, boosted by bumper signings in the January transfer window, shone through on a tough afternoon for the Dons.
Robinson made two changes to the side which lost at Yeovil in midweek with Mathias Kouo-Doumbe replacing the suspended Antony Kay and Chris Lines partnering Darren Potter as Ryan Harley moved into a more advanced position while Izale McLeod was named on the bench.
After falling into 10th position the Dons knew they needed a positive result from the game against Eddie Howe’s high-flying side. The Cherries had the first chance of the game when Brett Pitman sent a shot from inside the box flying over within the opening two minutes.
The Dons though were to press Bournemouth and put them on the back foot. The early play looked encouraging between Ryan Harley and Ryan Lowe, but a defensive error at the other end cost the hosts in the ninth minute.
As the Dons tried to open up the field in front of them Lines played the ball back to Jon Otsemobor who in turn played a weak ball to David Martin. In an instant Grabban sniffed out the loose ball, made his way passed
Lines ball to Otsemobor who played a weak ball back to Martin but Grabban intercepted and eased his way through Martin and Kouo-Doumbe, who were both cautious not to trip the striker in the box, and tucked his low shot into the back of the net.
The Cherries forward could have doubled their lead moments later when Lines was hassled for the ball, and appeared to be fouled in the process, which allowed Grabben to open up a shot which curled inches wide.
The Dons looked for an immediate response and some fine build-up work almost brought a reward when Darren Potter advanced to the edge of the box to feed a sideways pass to Ryan Lowe who held the ball up excellently to lay the ball off to Harley, but the midfielder’s effort fell wide.
Robinson’s men played some great football in midfield yet lacked the bite they needed to level the scores. A fantastic cross from Dean Bowditch caused problems for Shwan Jalal at the near-post as Lowe leapt with the hope of making a connection but the Cherries ‘keeper was able to punch clear.
Bournemouth’s defence was solid, organised and difficult to break down. Playing a high-line the Cherries back four encouraged the Dons to play their passing game, but their penetration in the box was lacking.
Temperatures were rising on the pitch as a mêlée involving Lowe and Tommy Elphick resulted in a stern talk from the referee for both players, but neither were cautioned for their part.
As half-time approached Lowe forced the first save from Jalal as he controlled a ball over the top excellently and drove a low fierce shot in the goalie’s direction.
Lowe was back in the thick of the action moments later for all the wrong reasons when his rash lunging challenge on Elphick resulted in a straight red card for the forward.
To add further to the Dons’ woes the Cherries quickly found the weaknesses in the 10-man Dons. Grabban escaped down the right of the Dons’ box, the low shot though was blocked by the right leg of Martin, unfortunately for the Dons goalie though, the ball fell straight into the path of Pugh who converted from close-range.
After a difficult first half, the Dons were quick out of the blocks at the re-start with McLeod introduced and looking hungry to make an impact. The forward had a tough job on his hands as the strike force against a Cherries side with a man advantage.
McLeod, dropping deep to link up with his team-mates, came within inches as he shot from distance but his curling strike fell wide.
At the opposite end Bournemouth were gifted a glorious chance to extend their lead to three goals when Matt Ritchie whipped in a cross which evaded everyone in the box but Pitman, however the Cherries man headed straight down the throat of Martin.
With the Dons no closer to clawing a goal back Robinson introduced Alan Smith to add the tenacious element that the hosts had been lacking.
The attacking options of Bournemouth always threatened to cause problems for the Dons and when Grabban got the better of Otsemobor it seemed destined that the visitors would get their third, but an excellent save from Martin kept the Dons in the game.
The ever-impressive Williams did his best to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and lead the Dons to a fight-back when he timed his challenge to perfect on Josh McQuoid to embark on a box-to-box run.
Williams bossed his way to the edge of the Bournemouth to drive a rasping shot against the upright, and an offside McLeod stabbed the rebound wide.
The Dons had the fight in them but failed to get the rub of the green in front of goal that they needed. When Smith’s work allowed McLeod to get in behind the defender he just needed to beat Martin, but he scuffed the shot wide.
All their hard work meant little though as with six minutes to play the Cherries were awarded a free-kick 25-yards out and Arter, stepping up to the left-sided opportunity, curled a magnificent strike into the top corner which Martin could do little about.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Otsemobor, Kouo-Doumbe (Smith 69), Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Lines (Ismail 79); Bowditch, Harley, Chicksen (McLeod 46); Lowe.
Subs not used: Flanagan, Baldock, Alli.
Sent-off: Lowe 44
AFC Bournemouth (4-4-2): Jalal; Francis, Cook, Elphick (c) (Ritchie 45), Seaborne; McQuoid (Hughes 79), Arter, O'Kane, Pugh; Grabban (Tubbs 87), Pitman.
Subs not used: Allsop (GK), Partington, Fogden, Fletcher.
Goals: Grabban 9, Pugh 45, Arter 84
Referee: Scott Matthieson (Cheshire)
Attendance: 9,233 (1,446 away)
Goal-Don goal times: 1st goal - 08.50; 2nd goal - 45.00; 3rd goal - 83.40