Report: Dons 0-2 PNE
Second-half goals from Callum Robinson and Joe Garner saw the Lilywhites run out victorious on what was a disappointing afternoon for the men from MK1.
There were five changes to the Dons side with Joe Walsh, Samir Carruthers, Carl Baker, Dean Bowditch and Devante Cole coming into the starting XI.
David Martin (thigh), Dean Lewington (suspended), Lee Hodson (ill), Mark Randall (abdominals), Dele Alli (ankle) and George Williams (knee) missed out.
Backed by a ferocious home support, the men from MK1 started confidently and enjoyed the majority of the possession and territorial advantage in the opening 10 minutes.
The first real chance came in the 11th minute when after playing a nice one-two with Carl Baker, Jordan Spence set up Bowditch, who curled an effort wide of the right-hand post from 20 yards.
Walsh, who was making his first appearance, came within inches of heading home Carl Baker’s teasing free-kick from the left following a good spell of pressure.
Shortly afterwards, Kyle McFadzean forced Sam Johnstone into a fine stop from 30 yards after the defender had advanced positively from his own half.
At the other end, the Dons dealt well with two consecutive Preston corners before Ian McLoughlin comfortably gathered Daniel Johnson’s effort on 25 minutes.
The encounter between the sides, who sat 2nd and 3rd respectively before the game, continued to ebb and flow, with Bowditch the next to register a shot on goal but it didn’t have enough pace to really threaten Johnstone on 33 minutes.
The last real action of an evenly-contested first half saw McLoughlin deal with a shot from Scott Laird, meaning the teams went in level.
Dons’ keeper was extremely brave on 48 minutes to punch away Paul Gallagher’s dangerous free-kick under pressure from Joe Garner.
Gallagher fired well over moments later and McFadzean was on hand to clear away after McLoughlin has miscued his clearance on 52 minutes.
Devante Cole threatened the Lilywhites backline four minutes later when he gathered from Baker and ran at Paul Huntington, but his cross didn’t have enough on it and it was collected by Johnstone.
At the other end, Spence was in the right place at the right time to head behind under pressure before Garner blasted over when well placed after good work by Johnson.
The Dons responded and a delightful pass from Bowditch found Grigg but, after bringing the ball down brilliantly, Bailey Wright put in a last-ditch challenge to deny the Northern Ireland international 12 yards out.
McLoughlin maintained his clean sheet with a comfortable stop from Callum Robinson’s low drive on 62 minutes, but there was nothing he could do four minutes later as the Aston Villa loanee arrowed an effort into the bottom right-hand corner after PNE had initially won the ball 35 yards from goal.
It was 2-0 on 70 minutes when Garner headed Gallagher’s right-wing corner into the back of the net, making the Dons’ task even more difficult.
The men from MK1 kept going until the final whistle but they were unable to take anything from a game which was very tight until the visitors’ opening goal.
MK Dons: McLoughlin; Spence (Green 79), McFadzean, Kay, Walsh; Potter, Carruthers; C Baker, Grigg, Bowditch (Powell 61); Cole (Reeves 72).
Unused subs: Burns, Flanagan, Andrews, L Baker.
Bookings: Potter, Spence.
Attendance: 10,618 (1,994)