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Report: Dons 1-0 Port Vale

22 November 2014

Carl Baker’s goal on his first home start was the difference as the Dons beat Port Vale 1-0 in front of the biggest home league crowd of the season.

Man-of-the-match Baker struck in the third minute to see off the in-form Valiants and move Karl Robinson’s men up to fourth in Sky Bet League 1.

Robinson made four changes from the thrilling 4-3 win over Port Vale in the FA Cup two weeks ago, with Antony Kay, Darren Potter, Dele Alli and Daniel Powell replacing Tom Flanagan, Mark Randall, Samir Carruthers and Will Grigg.

Baker, who scored in that win, found the net just three minutes into his first home start, drilling a low drive past Chris Neal into the bottom left-hand corner from 20 yards.

Alli flashed an effort not too far wide from a similar distance on seven minutes as Karl Robinson’s men started very brightly against the Valiants, who have won their last three league games.

A stunning exchange between Alli and Reeves presented the latter with an opportunity on 13 minutes but he shot straight at Neal from the edge of the Vale box.

Alli was at the heart of the Dons’ next two attacks in the 20th minute - firstly playing a one-two with Benik Afobe before eventually being crowded out prior to seeing a shot blocked following a fantastic burst from midfield. 

Potter, back in the side after serving a one-game suspension, and the impressive Alli both curled long-range efforts over the top as the half-hour mark approached.

 David Martin was called into action for the first time on 32 minutes, easily gathering Dany N’Guessan’s 25-yard effort in front of a buoyant Cowshed.

The visitors were struggling to get a real foot-hold in the game and their task was made more difficult five minutes later when former Don Chris Lines was sent off for an off-the-ball incident involving Alli.

Reeves could, and probably should, have increased the lead before the break but he dragged his effort wide of Neal’s left-hand post when in space on the edge of the Vale box. 

Afobe headed wide an even better chance from Baker’s in-swinging cross in injury-time at the end of a first period completely dominated by the Dons.

Neal had to be alert to gather two good crosses from the lively Baker at the start of the second half, but it wasn’t all Dons as Rob Page’s team came out with more purpose despite being a man down.

The consistently-good Dean Lewington almost found the well-placed Afobe with a dangerous delivery on 54 minutes - Alli fired over the resulting corner kick.

Kay tested Neal with a long-range drive and Alli saw a cut-back cleared shortly afterwards as the Dons continued their search for a second.

Reeves saw a close-range shot blocked from a clever Baker cross before Afobe chose to pass when he, perhaps, should have shot after robbing possession off a Vale defender on 67 minutes.

Robinson replaced Powell and Reeves with Dean Bowditch and Grigg with 20 minutes remaining, but the next chance to fell to a starter in the shape of Baker, who drove straight down the throat of the Vale keeper from a tight angle.

Bowditch threatened with a run at the heart of the visitors’ defence on 79 minutes before Jordan Spence brought the best out of Neal less than 60 seconds later.

Substitute Chris Birchall fluffed a rare chance for the visitors on 85 minutes, mis-kicking a cross-cum-shot from Carl Dickinson.    

Danny Green was introduced in the 86th minute for man-of-the-match Baker, who was given a standing ovation by all corners of the Dons supporting-sections at stadiummk.

The men from MK1 comfortably saw out the final minutes to move on to 30 points from 15 games.

MK Dons: Martin; Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington (c); Potter, Alli; Baker (Green 86), Reeves (Grigg 69), Powell (Bowditch 69); Afobe.

Unused subs: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Hodson, Randall, Green.

Goals: Baker 3

Bookings: Reeves, Baker, McFadzean.

Attendance: 12,007 (762 away fans)

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