Report: Swindon Town 0-3 Dons
Daniel Powell headed the men from MK1 in front of the hour mark before a brace from Will Grigg completed a first-class showing that moved them third and keeps them firmly in the chase for a top-two finish.
Darren Potter, Dele Alli, Dean Bowditch and Will Grigg returned to the starting XI for the clash in front of the Sky Sports cameras at the County Ground.
David Martin dealt with two early crosses before Grigg forced Wes Foderingham into a fine save away to his left after Alli had intercepted and picked him out.
That was quickly followed by a chance for Daniel Powell, who was brilliantly denied inside the Swindon area after latching on to Samir Carruthers’ clever pass.
At the other end, Michael Smith couldn’t get enough on Byrne’s cross from six yards as the hosts really should have gone ahead on 10 minutes.
The Dons were denied what looked like a certain penalty shortly afterwards as Sam Ricketts appeared to push Alli as he prepared to shoot 15 yards out.
Darren Potter then produced a stunning pass to put through Grigg, who controlled impeccably before seeing his effort expertly saved by Foderingham.
Continuing to look dangerous, the Dons attacked once again with purpose on 17 minutes – the end result being a shot over the top from Alli.
Dean Lewington ensured the score remained level a minute later, picking up a great position to clear away Byrne’s effort at the back post after he had met Ben Gladwin’s delivery.
That preceded a fantastic challenge from Kyle McFadzean to deny Smith 12 yards out after Antony Kay’s clearance had been blocked and Swift firing wide at the back post when well placed.
There was a fantastic ebb and flow to the game which was living up to his pre-match filling with both sides playing great football and going forward with real quality, but they couldn’t be separated as the half-hour approached.
Referee Paul Tierney turned away another strong penalty appeal when Grigg appeared to be tripped as he went to pull the trigger from Bowditch’s delivery.
A rare foray forward from the Robins ended with Smith shooting over before McFadzean got across excellently to thwart Swift after he had broken down the right.
On 43 minutes, Powell drove at the Swindon defence and let fly which deflected off Raphael Rossi-Branco behind for a corner – nothing came from the resulting set-piece.
That was the real action of a pulsating first half which the Dons had the better of, but their efforts were not rewarded with a deserved lead.
The opening chance of the second half fell to Byrne, who headed wide from 12 yards after meeting Smith’s right-wing cross.
Dons responded with another slick attacking move which presented an opportunity for Powell, but he was crowded out after receiving Carruthers’ pass and cutting inside on 50 minutes.
A magnificent piece of skill from Powell won a free-kick 25 yards out on 57 minutes, which Carruthers curled towards the top corner but Foderingham got across well to tip over.
The pressure finally told on the hour mark when Powell headed home from eight yards after Lee Hodson’s fierce shot had been pushed away by Foderingham. 0-1
Swindon substitute Andy Williams forced Martin into his first real save of the second half on 65 minutes after he pounced on a loose ball 25 yards out.
The same man then flashed an effort off target from a tight angle four minutes later while, at the other end, Bowditch couldn’t latch on to Carruthers’ pass inside.
Dons took a deserved 2-0 lead on 74 minutes – the classy Carruthers started things off with a sumptuous turn and pass to Alli who played it back to the Dons’ No.22. He then poked it over to Grigg, who curled a fine first-time shot into the far corner. Some goal! 2-0
Substitute Lewis Baker almost made an instant impact after coming on, arrowing a 30-yard effort inches past the right-hand post as the Dons kept pushing.
At the other end, Martin pulled off a smart stop to deny Gladwin at his near post to maintain the Dons’ two-goal lead going into the final 10 minutes.
A sensational display from the Dons was wrapped up in the 88th minute when Grigg tapped home his 17th goal of the season after Baker had dummied Hodson’s cross. 0-3
MK Dons: Martin; Hodson, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington (c); Potter, Alli; Bowditch (L Baker 75), Carruthers (Spence 86), Powell; Grigg (Cole 90+3).
Unused subs: Burns, Green, Hall, Hitchcock.
Goals: Powell (60), Grigg (74 & 88).
Attendance: 10, 087 (896 Dons fans).