Report: Notts County 0-1 Dons
Daniel Powell struck in the first-half as Karl Robinson’s side extended their unbeaten run in the league 12 games and kept up the pressure on the leaders Bristol City, who are still just a point ahead while the men from MK1 also have a game in hand.
Despite his side’s 7-0 success over Oldham Athletic, Karl Robinson stayed true to his rotation policy by making two changes – Daniel Powell and Benik Afobe coming in for Samir Carruthers and Will Grigg, who drop to the bench. Lee Hodson (ankle) and Ben Reeves (hamstring) missed out.
The hosts started on the frontfoot and David Martin had to twice be alert early on to push away Blair Adams’ teasing cross and then claim at the feet of Ronan Murray.
At the other end, Dele Alli, who scored a hat-trick in the 3-1 win at Meadow Lane in March, saw a shot blocked from 20 yards on seven minutes.
Two minutes later and Dean Bowditch found Powell inside the area with a superb incisive pass but, after rounding Roy Carroll, his cut-back was thwarted by a covering County defender.
That helped lift the Dons, who created another opportunity as the 15-minute mark approached – Bowditch firing down the throat of Carroll from the edge of the box.
The lively Bowditch was again involved three minutes later but he was crowded out from close range after an initial stunning interchange with Alli 20 yards out.
Antony Kay headed narrowly over from a free-kick before Alli saw a 22-yard strike deflect behind for a corner as the Dons began to control proceedings as the game ticked past the midway point of the first half.
The goal finally came on 32 minutes when Powell tapped home from 12 yards after Afobe had initially latched on to Baker’s through-ball.
Baker almost made it 2-0 shortly afterwards when he cut in from the right and curled a 20-yard effort just inches over the top.
However, it could have been 1-1 on 35 minutes but Martin magnificently pushed Adams’ dangerous low drive from inside the area.
As the half drew to a close, a deflected Bowditch effort landed on the roof of the County net and Afobe was denied by Carroll after a foray forward but the best chance fell to Dean Lewington, who lifted his headed over from close range.
County really should have levelled matters three minutes into the second period but Murray fired straight at Martin after being put through one-on-one by Colby Bishop.
That was a good chance but the one that fell to Afobe 60 seconds later was even better – he couldn’t connect with Baker’s teasing cross from inside the six-yard box though.
Alli volleyed over and then laid an opportunity on for Afobe, who was brilliantly tackled 15 yards out in front of goal, as the Dons went in search of a second.
They almost got it in style on 54 minutes after an excellent one-touch attacking move saw Jordan Spence one-on-one with Carroll, who made a superb save with his legs.
Shaun Derry’s Magpies were still looking a threat on the counter attack and McLaughlin brought a save from Martin just before the hour mark.
Alan Smith hit the crossbar with a looping header midway through the second half, although Martin watched the former Don’s effort all the way on to the woodwork.
A stunning challenge from Lewington denied Elliott Whitehouse at the back post on 72 minutes while, at the other end, Darren Potter stung the palms of Carroll from 20 yards.
Baker really should have settled matters on 79 minutes but, after nicely cutting in after receiving Afobe’s pass, he placed his effort just past the left-hand post.
The former Coventry City man hit the target on 84 minutes but Carroll was up to the task, as was Mike Edwards, who cleared Alli’s goal-bound effort off the line 60 seconds later.
A combination of a deflection and Carroll pushed Alli’s 25-yard effort on to the post as the game ticked into injury-time, but ultimately it didn’t prove costly as the Dons won and collected their 13th clean sheet in the process – more than the whole of last season.
Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Martin; Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington; Potter, Alli; Baker (Carruthers 87), Bowditch (Grigg 81), Powell (Green 81); Afobe.
Unused subs: McLoughlin, Baldock, Flanagan, Randall.
Goals: Powell (32).
Attendance: 5,897 (645 Dons fans).