Report: MK Dons 2-1 Shrewsbury Town
Kieran Agard’s 12th goal of the season and Paul Downing’s first for the Club had the Dons in control at the break.
Shrewsbury pulled one back in injury-time through Stephen Humphrys but it proved to be a consolation as the men from MK1 deservedly collected the three points.
Joe Walsh, Ben Reeves and Kieran Agard returned to the starting XI in place of Ben Tilney, Dean Bowditch and Nicky Maynard for the visit of the Shrews.
The Dons got off to the perfect start when Kieran Agard met a cross from George Baldock, who had been expertly picked out by a superb Darren Potter pass.
Agard came within inches of doubling his and the Dons’ tally on 11 minutes but Jayson Leutwiler pulled off a magnificent save, tipping the striker’s low drive effort against the post.
Shortly afterwards, the Dons did go 2-0 up when a well-worked corner created an opportunity for Harvey Barnes, who beat his man and crossed for Paul Downing to turn home from close range.
Provider almost turned goalscorer a couple of minutes later when Barnes forced Leutwiler into a smart save away to his left after collecting the ball from Chuks Aneke.
The men from MK1 were looking dangerous on every attack while comfortably dealing with the visitors’ attacking threat at the other end.
Then came chances at either end – the returning Reeves forced the Shrews’ keeper into a save from a long-distance free-kick before Alex Rodman dragged an effort harmlessly wide.
Rodman went much closer five minutes before the break, firing a shot not too far past the far post after the Dons had failed to clear the danger, however it was the Dons who went in at half-time with a deserved lead for their dominant display.
Stuart O’Keefe threatened before Aneke brought a good save out of Leutwiler as the Dons continued to pose a real threat at the start of the second half.
The visitors came back into things past the hour mark although the Dons were limiting them to crosses and shots from distance.
Neilson responded with a triple substitution as he introduced Robbie Muirhead, Maecky Ngombo and Maynard, who almost made it 3-0 on 71 minutes but his header went wide after beating Leutwiler to a long through-ball.
At the other end, substitute AJ Leitch-Smith fired wide after the ball had fallen kindly to him inside the Dons’ penalty area before Martin made a superb save to deny Jack Grimmer.
On the counter, the men from MK1 nearly made it 3-0 with just over five minutes remaining – Barnes was brave as he latched on to Muirhead’s ball but, after turning his man inside and out, he flashed his effort over the top.
Maynard was looking lively and, shortly afterwards, he was set free although he was denied as he tried to head the ball over Aristote Nsiala and set up a shooting opportunity.
Shrewsbury pulled one back in injury-time as Stephen Humphrys gathered a cross and fired a shot into the bottom right-hand corner.
Maynard and Ngombo had chances to restore the two-goal lead but were denied by Leutwiler but it didn’t matter in the end as Neilson’s side saw the game out relatively comfortably.
Starting XI: Martin; Baldock, Downing, Walsh, Williams; Reeves (Muirhead 67), Potter, O’Keefe, Barnes; Aneke (Ngombo 67), Agard (Maynard 67).
Unused subs: Nicholls, Tilney, Lewington, Bowditch.
Goals: Agard (5), Downing (12).
Attendance: 8,322 (543 Shrewsbury Town fans).