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Report: MK Dons 2-0 Morecambe

Gilbey's brace earns the Dons another home victory...

27 November 2018

Alex Gilbey scored a second-half brace against Morecambe to send MK Dons back to the top of the Sky Bet League Two table.

Paul Tisdale’s men were made to wait for their glory at Stadium MK and suffered a double injury blow as both Jordan Moore-Taylor and Chuks Aneke limped off.

However, their patience was rewarded after the break with Gilbey finding the net twice to secure a fifth success home success for the Dons.

Boss Tisdale made two changes to his starting XI with Baily Cargill returning from suspension in place of Mitch Hancox and Conor McGrandles coming in for his first league start since opening day - Callum Brittain made way for him.

The two additions almost combined for a goal inside the second minute but McGrandles, sliding in at the far post, wasn’t able to convert from Cargill’s low cross.

Aneke had the ball in the net 60 seconds later but the striker’s finish came well after referee John Busby had blown for a free-kick on the goalkeeper - Aneke was deemed to have pushed Mark Halstead, which caused him to fumble the ball to the striker's feet.

Rhys Healey was the next Dons man to try his luck on goal, cutting in from the right and firing a right-footed shot towards Halstead - one which deflected up into the arms of the Shrimps stopper. Aneke then had an effort of his own from the edge of the area but couldn’t keep the curling strike down.

The best chance of the opening exchanges fell the way of Cargill in the seventh minute and he wasn’t able to convert. The returning defender was unopposed as he climbed and met Jordan Houghton’s corner but he headed wide of the target from eight yards out.

MK Dons continued their dominant start and on 11 minutes, Dean Lewington sent in left-wing cross which was met by McGrandles but the midfielder couldn’t quite turn it into a shooting chance.

Visitors Morecambe then made their first meaningful venture forward a minute later but Moore-Taylor did well on the edge of his box to deny A-Jay Leitch-Smith. A delivery in to the area soon after was just above the head of Garry Thompson and then claimed by Lee Nicholls.

The Shrimps then went close to opening the scoring direct from Andrew Tutte’s curling free-kick which struck the left post. The loose ball was collected by Kevin Ellison but his cross was straight to Cargill, who cleared.

Tisdale’s side were dealt a blow midway through the first half when Moore-Taylor was forced off with an injury. He limped off after some lengthy treatment and was replaced by Ousseynou Cisse, who took up a place in the centre of the park with Houghton dropping back into defence alongside George Williams and Cargill.

The Dons didn’t let the injury stop them and they went straight back on the attack following the re-start. Aneke had a try from distance which was blocked but gathered by Agard. He then sent a fierce ball across goal towards Healey but the cross was intercepted.

On the half-hour mark, Agard played a one-two with McGrandles inside the area before seeing a low drive blocked on its way to goal. McGrandles was involved in another chance a minute later, sending in a cross to Healey whose shot was saved at point-blank range by Halstead.

Cheered on by the home support, MK Dons continued to search for a first-half opener and had Lewington’s cross been a little further ahead of Jordan Cranston then Agard might have had the chance to head home that goal to break the deadlock.

Williams then sent a miss-hit half-volley over the bar before Morecambe striker Leitch-Smith forced a save out of Nicholls with the final chance of the first half.

At the start of the second period, Healey went it alone in search of the opener and thought he had found it with a low left-footed shot which, in the end, was blocked. Healey didn’t give up, though, and dived at the loose ball - however, despite his best efforts, he wasn’t able to hit the target with his header.

Tisdale made his second substitution eight minutes into the second half, introducing Lawson D’Ath to the contest in place of Agard, whose run of consecutive games with a goal came to an end at five.

The Dons boss then suffered another injury blow as, just 60 seconds after Agard left the field, his fellow marksmen Aneke pulled up while chasing a long ball. He had to be replaced by Robbie Simpson.

It looked as though it was going to be one of those nights for the men from MK1 but in the 58th minute they found a breakthrough.

After Healey was dispossed following a run in from the right flank, Gilbey raced onto the loose ball and, from the edge of the D, sent a first-time effort past Halstead’s outstretched arm and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net for his first goal of the campaign. 1-0.

MK Dons went about extending their advantage and Cargill saw a diving header blocked from Lewington’s 61st-minute corner. From a later set piece, Williams came within an inch of testing Halstead but couldn't quite meet the delivery.

Healey went for goal on 69 minutes after racing onto a through pass from McGrandles. The angle was tight but the on-loan striker fancied his chances - his effort, though, went into the side netting.

Lewington then went close to a stunning goal with a looping volley which was palmed over by Halstead. From the resulting corner, Cargill volleyed over.

Morecambe responded and a chance fell to Alex Kenyon with 14 minutes left to play. The midfielder had time to line up his shot but fired over Nicholls’ crossbar. Jordan Cranston curled wide of the target not long after.

Tisdale’s men were being made to work for their points but their task was made a whole lot easier as they managed to extend their advantage to two - and it was courtesy of Gilbey, once again.

The midfielder, who went into the game without a goal to his name, found the net with a similar finish to his opener but, this time, after cutting inside from the left wing. 2-0.

There was still some work to do for the hosts and Houghton threw himself in front of a Liam Mandeville strike with three minutes remaining to prevent the Shrimps setting up a nervy finish. Ellison fired over on the rebound.

MK Dons also had chances to extend their lead late on. Healey had the better of those opportunities, but poked an attempt into the side netting after a terrific run down the right flank.

In the end, it finished 2-0 - not that there were too many complaints amongst the home supporters at Stadium MK.

Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams, Moore-Taylor (Cisse 25), Cargill; McGrandles, Houghton, Gilbey, Lewington; Healey, Agard (D’Ath 53), Aneke (Simpson 56).

Unused subs: Moore, Watson, Hancox, Asonganyi.

Goals: Gilbey (58, 84)

Attendance: 5,726 (77 away)

Referee: J Busby

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