Report: MK Dons 5-3 Northampton Town
Kieran Agard opened the scoring before a brace from man-of-the-match Chuks Aneke either side of the break had the men from MK1 in control.
A deflected Darren Potter strike and a fine goal on his Dons and league debut from Harvey Barnes made it 4-1 and 4-2 after goals from Gregg Wylde and Marc Richards, who then subsequently found the net from the spot late on after the Leicester City loanee’s finish.
Robbie Neilson opted for a 3-4-3 formation for the Dons’ first game of 2017 at Stadium MK, while new boys Barnes and Robbie Muirhead were both among the substitutes.
There were chance at either ends in the opening five minutes – Nicky Maynard saw a close-range effort saved by Adam Smith before George Williams headed away in front of Richards.
That was followed by a good spell of pressure by the visitors, but it was the Dons who looked more likely to break the deadlock on 12 minutes through Aneke, who burst on to Williams’ knock-down – the former was crowded out.
An evenly-contested encounter turned into one being shaded by the men from MK1 as the game past the half-hour mark and they had appeals for a penalty waved away for a challenge on Maynard.
Neilson’s side hit the front on 38 minutes when Aneke superbly held off his man and fed Agard, who drove forward and finished with aplomb – his ninth of the season.
Provider turned goalscorer just five minutes later as Aneke coolly slotted home from the penalty spot to break his Dons duck and double their lead.
The second half started in far more open fashion – the Dons aiming to extend their advantage and the Cobblers look for a way back into the game.
The visitors came the closest on 55 minutes when they countered and Richards played in Harry Beautyman, who fired wide after riding a challenge inside the area.
At the other end, Agard saw an effort deflect wide from 25 yards – from the resulting corner, Aneke powered home his second and the Dons’ third after the ball had fallen to him on the edge of the box.
Substitute Keshi Anderson had a chance to reduce the arrears for the visitors but his touch let him down at the crucial time and the ball ran behind for a goal kick.
Fellow substitute Gregg Wylde did make it 3-1 courtesy of a superb strike with his first touch, but the Dons restored their three-goal lead just a minute later when Potter’s deflected effort found the bottom corner.
Lee Nicholls replaced the injured David Martin on 70 minutes and in doing so made his league debut for the Club, but there was nothing he could do to deny Richards’ header finding the net from a corner just a minute later.
Shortly afterwards, Barnes and Muirhead were then introduced for their debuts – and the former made some impression by firing a fine effort past Smith to score on his league bow and make it 5-2.
Northampton wouldn’t go quietly, though, and Richards pulled it back to 5-3 when he scored from the spot after on 84 minutes.
Maynard almost added a sixth late on but Smith made a superb save to deny the Dons’ No.28 a goal.
A superb afternoon of entertainment, a win and up a few places.
Starting XI: Martin (Nicholls 70); Downing, Walsh, Lewington; Baldock, Potter, Upson, Williams; Agard (Muirhead 76), Aneke (Barnes 76), Maynard.
Unused subs: Brittain, Powell, Rasulo, Tshimanga.
Goals: Agard (38), Aneke (43 & 56), Potter, (61), Barnes (79).
Bookings: Williams, Aneke, Upson, Potter.
Attendance: 12, 300.