Report: Barnsley 3-5 MK Dons
Goals from Benik Afobe and Samir Carruthers sent the men from MK1 in at half-time 2-0 ahead, a lead which they deservedly extended in the second period through Dele Alli, Will Grigg and Ben Reeves.
Conor Hourihane (2) and Devante Cole pulled three back late on for the Tykes, who made things interesting but, in truth, they were out-classed after a sensational first 82 minutes from Karl Robinson’s men.
Jordan Spence, Mark Randall and Carruthers replaced Kyle McFadzean (suspended), Darren Potter (thigh) and Tom Hitchcock, who dropped to the bench.
Fresh from a two-week break from competitive action, the Dons created a chance in the opening 60 seconds but neither Carruthers nor Afobe could get on the end of Daniel Powell’s cross.
The Tykes responded and David Martin had to be alert to tip over Lewin Nyatanga’s header from Joe Dudgeon’s long throw-in. From the resulting corner, Randall was in the right place to clear away Kane Hemmings’ goal-bound header.
Powell was continuing to cause problems at the other end but, like in the first minute, Afobe couldn’t meet his dangerous cross, before Afobe’s header from another Powell delivery didn’t trouble Adam Davies in the Barnsley goal.
A quickly-taken free-kick presented Hourihane with a chance and the midfielder came close to opening the scoring, striking the base of the post from the edge of the area on 15 minutes.
The unlikely source of Spence created the Dons’ next opportunity when he drove down the right-hand side and cut the ball back for Afobe, who was challenged as he prepared to shoot.
Brad Abbott flashed a long-range effort well wide of the target just past the midway point of the half, but Carruthers came a lot closer on the half-hour mark when he almost caught Davies out with a 25-yard free-kick.
The Dons went in front on 33 minutes when Afobe pounced from close range to score his fourth goal in three games after Davies parried Randall’s rasping effort.
Dean Bowditch almost made it 2-0 in spectacular style four minutes but his dipping 25-yard volley was pushed over by Davies, who was becoming increasingly busy.
The Dons did lead by two in the first minute of added time when Carruthers fired an unstoppable effort into the roof of net from the edge of the box after good work by central-midfield pair Randall and Alli.
Fantastic pressing from Karl Robinson’s men brought about a chance to go further in front four minutes into the second half but George Baldock’s cross just evaded his team-mates.
Barnsley quite simply couldn’t handle the Dons, but there aren’t many teams that could have stopped the men from MK1 going 3-0 up on 52 minutes. Afobe picked out Carruthers, who nut-megged his man on the edge of the box and the arriving Alli delicately lifted the ball over Davies. A goal to savour.
Reece Brown tamely fired wide at the back post from a Hourihane free-kick before substitute Devante Cole’s touch let him down at the crucial time as the hosts looked for a way back into the game, but the Dons were proving just as good at the back as they were going forward.
Will Grigg got in on the act just three minutes after coming for Afobe, firstly robbing Nyatanga of possession, bearing down on goal and then coolly slotting the ball under Davies.
Another of Robinson’s substitutes, Ben Reeves, on for Alli, swept home to make it 5-0 on 79 minutes after more sensational work by Powell, who picked out the Northern Ireland international with a neat cut-back after terrorising Brown once again.
Hourihane arrowed an effort into the top right-hand corner on 82 minutes before reducing the arrears further five minutes later with another sweetly-struck shot.
A Cole header made things momentarily interesting at 5-3 but the Dons comfortably held on for three important points against the recently-relegated side.
Starting XI: Martin; Baldock, Lewington, Kay, Spence; Alli (Reeves 76), Randall; Carruthers (Hitchcock 74), Bowditch, Powell; Afobe (Grigg 69).
Unused subs: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Tilney, Rasulo.
Goals: Afobe (33), Carruthers (45+1), Alli (52), Grigg (72), Reeves (79).
Attendance: 9,192 (363 Dons fans)