A stunning 35-yard strike from captain Charley Clarke set MK Dons Ladies on their way to recording a 2-0 victory away at Norwich City.
James Honeyman’s side continued to keep their narrow lead intact, denying Norwich City Ladies any opportunities, until the 85th minute when Heather McDonnell made the most of the Dons’ dominance of possession.
After finding herself in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper, McDonnell skilfully took the ball around the Norwich shot-stopper, slotting the ball calmly into an empty net, to make the Dons comfortable at 2-0.
They then saw out the last five minutes of the game, withstanding any pressure from the Canaries, to hold on to their clean sheet and achieve a 2-0 victory away from home.
The win sees the Dons move above AFC Wimbledon in the South East Division One table into third position, one point behind Cambridge United in second.
Honeyman’s side started the game brightly, battling difficult pitch conditions in order to carve out chances to take an early lead.
Hannah Barrett tried to grab the first goal of the game, working hard to find space against a determined Norwich defence, but was unable to get a clear shot on target.
The Dons were unable to enforce their usual passing game due to the pitch conditions and the work-rate of their opponents, who were forcing them to search for a different way to make the breakthrough.
They had a few half-chances courtesy of shots from McDonnell, Barrett and Kerry Newman but were unable to take the lead.
Then Clarke tried her luck from 35-yards out, striking the ball perfectly to see it smash into the top right corner of the net and give the Dons the lead.
They were unable to extend their lead before the break and had to settle for only a 1-0 goal advantage at half-time due to Norwich’s resilience.
After the restart, the Dons continued to have the majority of possession but were unable to grab a second goal in the early stages of the second half.
McDonnell then denied Norwich’s attempts at grabbing any late equaliser when she made the Dons’ superior possession count with five minutes left of the game.
She used her pace to create a one-one-one opportunity with the goalkeeper, which she calmly made the most of – taking the ball around her opponent before firing the ball into the goal to make it 2-0.
Speaking after the game, James Honeyman said: “It was an ugly game today on a poor pitch but we worked hard to not give Norwich chances.
“We scored early then scored one before the end of the game to wrap up three points in a professional performance.
“It was not the flowing performance we are used to but we managed everything from start to finish with Hannah Barrett in particular working tirelessly.“
Honeyman added he was happy with some of the Dons’ Under-18s, who were featuring once more in a league game this season.
He said: “We had three Under-18s feature which was a positive and it continues to show how much quality we have upcoming to the squad.”
Starting XI: Smith, Holland, Howes, Doyle, Gillings, Newsome (Naylor, 85), Clarke (c) , Hazard (Gooderham, 75), McDonnell, Newman (Loftus, 60), Barrett.
Goals: Clarke (26), McDonnell (85)
MK Dons Ladies are next in action this coming Wednesday evening, when they take on Chesham United in the Berks and Bucks FA Women’s Senior Cup final at Buckingham Athletic Football Club.
Supporters are welcome to attend the final, which kicks-off at 7.30pm.