Report: Dons 0-1 Preston North End
Paul Gallagher’s goal 28 minutes in proved to be the difference in a match between two of the promoted sides from League 1 last seasons.
Karl Robinson’s men did have chances to get on the scoresheet, notably in the first-half through both Sam Gallagher and Carl Baker but they couldn’t find a way past the Lilywhites, who were reduced to 10-men for the final five minutes.
Karl Robinson reverted back to the starting XI that beat Rotherham United 4-1 on opening day, with Carl Baker the only exception – the Dons’ number seven replaced Rob Hall, who missed out through a knee injury.
It was the visitors from Lancashire who made the brighter start and Darren Potter was twice forced to cut out potential goal-assisting passes from Will Keane inside the opening five minutes.
The Dons then had a glorious chance to take the lead against the run of play but after some excellent play, in particular from Dean Bowditch, Sam Gallagher dragged a left-footed shot wide from the corner of the six-yard box.
Carl Baker followed that effort up, 10 minutes later, with a header from Dean Lewington’s cross which was superbly stopped by Jordan Pickford in the PNE goal. Following the resulting corner, Baker again went close, this time with a fierce low shot which was gathered by the Lilywhites’ number 1.
What followed was a dominant spell of possession from Robinson’s men, who spent the majority of the next five minutes camped inside their opposition’s half.
When Preston did manage to win back the ball, however, they threatened goal – Daniel Johnson smashes a left-footed shot just wide of the post after being set away brilliantly by Paul Gallagher.
And with their next chance, Simon Grayson’s outfit opened the scoring courtesy of Gallagher, who slotted past Martin from deep inside the box after a fine bit of build-up play. 0-1.
From the re-start, Bowditch looked to provide an instant response but his driven effort from the edge of the box was deflected wide of the target by a defender. The Dons’ number nine had a second shot blocked and cleared from Reeves’ corner soon after.
The Lilywhites looked content to allow the Dons to dominate possession, while remaining a threat on the counter. There was a brief moment where they thought they’d doubled their advantage before half-time but Tom Clarke’s header was disallowed because of a foul on Martin.
After the re-start, PNE threatened once more from a corner, this time through Garner, but his header eight-yards out went over the bar.
Robinson introduced Peru international Cristian Benavente soon after the hour mark for his first taste of league action in English football and the lively midfielder provided an instant mark, showing Gallagher a clean set of heels and almost creating a shooting opportunity for himself.
Simon Church and Dale Jennings were also brought on by the Dons, who were given a lift in their pursuit of an equaliser with five minutes remaining when PNE substitute Jordan Hugill was shown a straight red card for what appeared to be a stamp on McFadzean.
Up against 10 men, the men from MK1 piled forward but aside from a couple of long-range efforts from Jennings they failed to truly test Pickford before the final whistle blew.
STARTING XI: Martin; Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington (c); Potter, Carruthers (Benavente 67); Baker (Church 77), Reeves, Bowditch (Jennings 77); Gallagher.
SUBS: Cropper, Hodson, Walsh, Aguza.