Report: Dons 3-0 Blackburn Rovers
Both sets of players wore black armbands as a mark for respect for former Rovers manager and player Howard Kendall, who sadly passed away at the age of 69 earlier in the day.
Rob Hall replaced Carl Baker in the starting XI for the Dons’ first game after the international break, which they went into on the back of a 1-1 draw at Bristol City.
And the man who came into the side almost gave the men from MK1 the lead as early as the first minute but, after beating two men, he saw his fierce 20-yard shot saved by Jason Steele.
Rovers had a chance of their own five minutes later but Antony Kay was in the right place at the right time to clear Craig Conway’s teasing cross.
The Dons responded with a fast break which ended with Josh Murphy seeing a shot deflected behind following fantastic work by Jake Forster-Caskey.
That was a warning shot for Rovers, who were punished on 11 minutes courtesy of Ben Reeves’ cool penalty after Murphy had raced through and been brought down by Adam Henley. The Rovers right-back, last man, was subsequently sent off.
The lively Murphy almost made it 2-0 shortly afterwards when he beat a man, cut inside and sent a shot goalwards which deflected into the side-netting.
Equally impressive was Forster-Caskey, who forced a smart save from the legs of Steele after being picked out on the left-hand side of the 18-yard box.
However, the best opportunity to double the lead came in the dying embers of the first half when, after out-muscling his marker, Simon Church curled an effort narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
The last real action of the opening 45 saw Steele comfortably gather a Murphy effort while the first shot of the second half fell to Hall, who fired just wide of the target from a tight angle.
Murphy continued to threaten down the left and it was his good play that caused havoc in the Blackburn box courtesy of a dangerous cross – Church was denied after the ball had fallen to him before the visitors eventually cleared.
Rovers tried to push back against a dominant Dons, who were standing firm in defence as the game approached the hour mark.
David Martin was called into action for the first time on 60 minutes, initially saving and then subsequently gathering Rhodes’ powerful header at the second attempt.
That was a break in wave after wave of Dons attacks, the latest of which saw a rasping effort from Reeves saved before the rebound from Murphy was blocked.
Despite their dominance, the Dons almost found themselves pegged back but Forster-Caskey headed off the line with just over 20 minutes remaining.
However, Karl Robinson’s did finally double their lead on 71 minutes thanks to Church’s thumping close-range header from Murphy’s left-wing cross.
It was almost 3-0 shortly afterwards but Murphy dragged his effort just wide of the post after, once again, turning his marker inside and out.
A magnificent save from Steele denied substitute Nicky Maynard making the scoreline more comfortable from close range – what would have been his first goal for the Club since joining last month.
The Dons were not to be denied a third though - Reeves superbly finishing off a fine one-touch move involving Carl Baker and Forster-Caskey in the 89th minute.
Starting XI: Martin; Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington (c); Poyet, Forster-Caskey; Hall (Baker 63), Reeves, Murphy (Carruthers 86); Church (Maynard 78).
Unused subs: Burns, Hodson, Powell, Gallagher.
Bookings: Poyet, Hall, McFadzean.
Goals: Reeves (11), Church (71), Reeves (89).
Attendance: 11,548 (1,371 Blackburn fans).
Referee: James Linington