Report: MK Dons 0-1 Fleetwood Town
The Dons looked the more likely to break the deadlock and Harvey Barnes hit the bar but they didn’t pose the same threat after Cian Bolger’s header on the hour mark, which proved the difference in a tight encounter.
Darren Potter returned in place of the suspended Ed Upson while Nicky Maynard also came in for Kieran Agard after recovering from a hamstring injury. Dean Lewington was back but only fit enough for the bench.
The Dons settled the better of the two sides and Dean Bowditch was the first to threaten when he sent a 20-yard effort goalwards after cutting in from the right.
Robbie Neilson’s men continued to look the more dangerous and Barnes almost provided a stunning opener but, after shifting the ball on to his right foot, his curling effort came back down off the crossbar – Stuart O’Keefe couldn’t turn home the rebound.
Ben Tilney was impressing on his league bow at Stadium MK and he was involved in another flowing move, which ended with Barnes seeing a shot deflected into the grateful arms of Alex Cairns.
The only threat from the visitors in a Dons-dominated opening quarter came courtesy of a quick counter but David Martin easily gathered Conor McLaughlin’s cross.
At the other end, Chuks Aneke almost gave the Dons what would have been a deserved lead but his header, from George Baldock’s pinpoint cross, finished inches wide of the right-hand post.
After a mini spell of keep-ball from the visitors, an acrobatic effort from Maynard was blocked before Cairns saved Aneke’s long-range free-kick.
A forward run from the powerful Aneke created some space but he was crowded out at the crucial time as the Dons ended the half the stronger.
The second half started at a frenetic pace with Aneke being denied at close range after Fleetwood had failed to deal with a smart Dons move.
Baldock was alive at the other end to clear off the line from Ashley Eastham before Barnes fired over a cross, which unfortunately evaded his Dons team-mates.
Like Baldock minutes earlier, O’Keefe came to the rescue 10 minutes into the half when he acrobatically cleared Cian Bolger’s header off the line – Martin saved Ben Davies’ follow-up.
However, the Dons were beaten just past the hour mark when Bolger powered a header past Martin from George Clendon’s corner.
Neilson responded by bringing on Maecky Ngombo and nice play from Barnes and Aneke saw him presented with a shooting opportunity but he fired over from a tight angle.
Eleven-goal man Agard was also introduced as the Dons boss looked to further freshen up his side’s attack, as was Robbie Muirhead for the final stages.
They kept pushing with most of the threat they posed coming through Barnes and Aneke but Fleetwood, 15 unbeaten going into this game, stood firm to hold on for the points.
Starting XI: Martin; Baldock, Downing, Williams, Tilney; Potter; Bowditch (Muirhead 87), O’Keefe (Agard 78), Aneke, Barnes; Maynard (Ngombo 61).
Unused subs: Nicholls, Brittain, Lewington, Powell.
Attendance: 8,278 (159 Fleetwood fans)