Daniel Harvie’s 75th-minute strike saw MK Dons beat Doncaster Rovers 1-0 at Stadium MK and make it four Sky Bet League One wins in a row.
In a game that the Dons dominated with chances and possession, it took until the final quarter of an hour for them to make a breakthrough – Harvie, the match-winner, with a right-footed strike that beat the impressive Louis Jones in the Donny goal.
The win lifts Russell Martin’s men into the top half of the Sky Bet League One table with eight games left to play in the 2020/21 season.
Andrew Surman captained an MK Dons side that made three changes from the win at Burton Albion. In came Zak Jules, Will Grigg and Daniel Harvie in place of Dean Lewington, Cameron Jerome and Ethan Laird.
Harvie and his opposite wing-back, Matthew Sorinola, were both involved early, delivering crosses from the right and the left. The former also had the game’s first shot, on seven minutes – one from 20 yards out which was blocked.
Surman also tried his luck from distance, 19 minutes in, but he too saw his effort stopped by a Donny defender. The Dons then had an appeal for a penalty turned away by referee Joshua Smith, despite what appeared to be a handball from Harvie’s cross.
Louis Jones was forced into his first save in the 28th minute, producing a terrific stop to keep out Grigg’s goal-bound header. The Dons recycled possession and Jules had an opportunity which he dragged just past the post.
Martin was forced into his first change of the game on the half-hour mark as he replaced Scott Fraser with Louis Thompson in midfield.
The chances kept coming for the Dons, though, and they went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock with six minutes remaining in the half but Jones denied Harvie with a terrific fingertip save, tipping the Scot’s low effort onto the post.
Grigg was denied on the follow-up and he saw another shot soon after – again, Jones, in the way for the visitors.
The Donny goalkeeper lost none of his inspired form at the break, as he came up with another excellent save just a minute into the second period – this time denying Thompson following his direct run forward from half-way to deep inside the penalty area.
Doncaster had their best opening of the game on 53 minutes when Jason Lokilo was played in by Omar Bogle. Harry Darling recovered well for the Dons and got in the way of the striker’s effort with a diving block. Lokilo then fired over the loose ball.
A vital block from Joe Wright at the other end prevented Sorinola from connecting with Harvie’s low cross. Grigg did get to O’Riley’s low delivery just prior to the hour mark but saw his poked effort claimed by Jones.
Doncaster had another try 63 minutes in from a direct free-kick but John Bostock sent his attempt over Fisher’s crossbar.
Martin went to his bench again soon after, adding Jerome to his attack alongside Grigg as well as Laird in place of Sorinola out wide. Jerome connected with a McEachran free-kick on 74 minutes but was flagged for offside.
The game was finely poised entering the final quarter of an hour but, it was at that point, the deadlock was broken – and, deservedly, in the Dons’ favour.
O’Riley created the goal with an excellent cross-field pass to Harvie, who manoeuvred himself into space for a shot before firing a fierce right-footed strike beyond past Jones and into the roof of his net. An excellent finish. 1-0.
Charlie Brown replaced Grigg as Martin made his final change of the game with less than eight minutes left to play. Fisher was called into action, for the first time, moments later to save from Lokilo in the final three minutes of regulation time.
Jerome had an opportunity in stoppage time to put the game to bed but wasn’t able to generate enough power on his shot to beat Jones from Laird’s cross.
Doncaster threatened late on, going closest with an effort that was somehow kept out on the line by Darling – who, on his knees, did well not to use his hand to block the goal-bound attempt.
The visitors then failed to take advantage from the resulting corner and that was followed by the referee’s whistle. A fourth straight MK Dons win for the first time since 2019 and one that certainly sets up an interesting finish to the 2020/21 season.
MK Dons: Fisher, Jules, McEachran, Darling, Grigg (Brown 83), Fraser (Thompson 28), O’Hora, Surman (Jerome 67), O’Riley, Harvie, Sorinola (Laird 67).
Subs: Nicholls, Lewington, Mason.
Goal: Harvie (75)
Doncaster Rovers: Jones, Halliday, Anderson, Wright (John 80), Horton (Gomes 80), Bostock (Robertson 81), James, Lokilo, Richards, Coppinger (Okenabirhie 64), Bogle.
Subs: Balcombe, Amos, Greaves.
Referee: J Smith