MK Dons moved out of the bottom four in Sky Bet League One courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Accrington Stanley at the Wham Stadium.
Sullay Kaikai’s goal eight minutes in proved the difference, though the Dons defence deserves credit for withstanding a bombardment of balls into their box and securing their second successive clean sheet.
The victory lifted Mark Jackson’s side above their opponents and out of the relegation zone. They also move three points clear of Morecambe, who they welcome to Stadium MK next weekend.
Mark Jackson made two changes from the side which beat Cambridge United as Josh McEachran and Will Grigg replaced Dawson Devoy and Nathan Holland.
Grigg was the target of a McEachran pass in the third minute which led to an early corner. McEachran delivered from the left and picked out Tucker, whose header was cleared off the line by Sean McConville.
Five minutes later, MK Dons took the lead, as KAIKAI, after collecting a half-cleared cross from McEachran, played a delayed one-two with Conor Grant, before cutting inside of his man and beating Toby Savin with an effort from six yards out. 0-1.
Jamie Cumming was called into action for the first time on 11 minutes – the MK Dons goalkeeper rushed out of his goal and punched clear a dangerous cross in from the Accrington Stanley right.
The Dons went close again from a Kaikai corner soon after but Paris Maghoma wasn’t able to find the target with his headed effort at the far post. A superb solo run from Mo Eisa then led to a free-kick on the edge of the D – Eisa took the free-kick himself and had his attempt blocked by the wall.
Kaikai set MK Dons on their way for another attack with 25 minutes played, winning possession and carrying the ball into the Accy half before finding Maghoma. Maghoma went for goal after creating space 20 yards out, but his low shot was straight at Savin.
The Dons kept pushing for a second and created another chance before the half-hour. Daniel Harvie crossed for Grigg and the striker did well to nod the ball back into the mix – Eisa, though, was penalised for a foul on Doug Tharme as he looked to connect.
Tharme was involved at the other end, heading wide from a corner on 34 minutes. His block then prevented Eisa from being able to tap home from Kaikai’s low cross, after the MK Dons number 24 had beaten his man inside the area. Harvie went close moments later, diving down to meet a ball in from the right but heading wide.
In the first of three additional minutes at the end of the first half, Eisa broke into the area but his shot was deflected wide of the target. In the third of those, Accrington threatened but a superb tackle from Harvie prevented Shaun Whalley breaking through on goal.
The Dons survived a free-kick, a corner and a long throw at the start of the second half. They then had an opportunity to double their lead through Eisa but he couldn’t keep his left-footed shot down after latching onto Harvie’s pass over from the left.
On 55 minutes, a stunning diving save from Cumming denied Tommy Leigh, whose curling effort from the edge of the D looked to be heading into the corner of the Dons’ net. Cumming also got down well to prevent Mitch Clark’s dangerous low cross finding a teammate.
Cumming produced another save to keep Tommy Leigh’s header out with 69 minutes on the clock. Jackson then went to his bench for the first time, introducing Devoy and Max Dean in place of Grant and Grigg.
Dean had a chance to make an immediate impact but he was denied by the legs of Savin, after latching onto Maghoma’s through pass. At the other end, Clark blazed over the bar from range as Accrington opted not to send a long throw into the box for the first time.
A superb block from Watson inside the area prevented Korede Adedoyin’s cross from causing the Dons problems. That led to a breakaway chance for Dean, who was pulled to the ground by Leigh – the Accy midfielder escaped with only a booking despite Dean being clean through on goal. Kaikai fired wide from the free-kick.
Bradley Johnson and Henry Lawrence replaced McEachran and Eisa respectively as Jackson went to his bench again with eight minutes remaining. With six minutes left, Leigh had a long-range try for the hosts but slashed his effort wide.
Jackson made his final substitution in the final 90 seconds of the 90 – Ethan Robson on in place of Kaikai. His first action was to hook clear a dangerous header back into the Dons box.
Accy continued to send balls into the area throughout the five minutes of stoppage time but the Dons defence held firm through until the final whistle. A huge three points ahead of another huge match at Stadium MK next Saturday.
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson, Lewington, Tucker, McEachran (Johnson 82), Grigg (Dean 70), Eisa (Lawrence 82), Grant (Devoy 70) Harvie, Kaikai (Robson 89), Maghoma
Subs: Ravizzoli, Holland
Goal: Kaikai (8)
Booked: Lewington, Watson
Accrington Stanley: Savin, Clark, Whalley (Lowe 57), Leigh, McConville, Nottingham, Longelo (Adedoyin 57), Pressley, Martin (Nolan 82), Tharme, Fernandes
Subs: Isherwood, Butler-Oyedeji, Mancini, Quirk
Booked: Nottingham, Tharme, Leigh
Referee: C Hicks
Attendance: 2,465 (290 away)