MK Dons secured a third consecutive Sky Bet League One victory courtesy of a 1-0 win over Morecambe at Stadium MK.
Jonathan Leko’s goal in the 57th minute proved the difference, as Mark Jackson’s men moved up to 19th and, crucially, four points clear of the bottom four.
Leko returned to starting XI as Mark Jackson made two changes from last weekend’s win over Accrington Stanley. Leko replaced Will Grigg while Henry Lawrence was brought into the side, in the absence of Sullay Kaikai who was away on international duty.
Leko was involved after only three minutes, spinning away from his man in the centre of the park before driving towards goal and sending a low drive into the arms of Connor Ripley from the edge of the area.
There was another opportunity for Leko in the seventh minute but, after being teed up by Mo Eisa, he curled wide from just inside the D. Eisa had a chance for himself shortly after, created by Leko – his effort, though, deflected off Liam Gibson and was then saved by Ripley.
In the eighth minute of an eventful opening period, Morecambe had their first attempt through Ash Hunter, who drilled well wide from range. Two vital interceptions from Dean Lewington then denied the visitors a pair of chances on Jamie Cumming’s goal.
Some neat football involving Leko, Conor Grant and Eisa led to the latter stinging the palms of Ripley – not that a goal would have counted, with Eisa deemed to be in an offside position.
Moments later, Grant found himself with possession inside the box after being found by Paris Maghoma. The midfielder managed to get a shot away, after cutting on his right, but the attempt was blocked by a Shrimps defender.
Just before the half-hour mark, Jack Tucker did well to track the run of Oumar Niasse and get in the way the striker’s tight-angled effort. Pape Souare then blazed over from the left apex of the box, after being found by Donald Love.
Five minutes before half-time, Leko tried his luck again from outside the area – this shot took a nick off a defender’s leg and looped into the hands of Connor Ripley. Leko then played in Eisa, whose ball back into the mix was claimed by the Shrimps goalkeeper.
Morecambe broke forward after that and saw Crowley have a deflected try spin anxiously close to the bottom corner of Cumming’s net – Cumming, rooted to the spot, was grateful to watch it whistle just wide.
Looking to make a fast start to the second half, the Dons worked the ball out wide for Harvie. He picked out Eisa with his clipped cross but the MK Dons number 10 wasn’t able to direct his header on target.
Harvie went for goal himself a minute later, after letting Grant’s pass run across his body, though the left-back’s effort was deflected away from the target by a Morecambe defender.
A teasing free-kick from the visitors almost resulted in a chance but for some excellent defending by Lewington at the far post. That proved crucial too, as MK Dons soon broke the deadlock.
McEachran created the chance with a superb pass through to Harvie, who had made the run down the left-hand side. Harvie spotted LEKO making the run alongside him and the ball across was inch-perfect for the forward to slot home the opener in front of the Cowshed. 1-0.
Morecambe threatened an immediate equaliser from a corner but Souare’s drive from 20 yards crashed against the outside of Cumming’s post and away to safety. Harvie and Leko then combined again but the latter’s effort, this time, was off target.
On 63 minutes, Cumming got down well to keep out Hunter’s low strike from the edge of the area. At the other end, Leko was denied by a terrific save from Ripley, with Eisa unable to judge the loose bouncing ball and convert on the rebound.
Tucker got himself in the way of Crowley’s shot in the 67th minute as the Morecambe midfielder threatened with a mazy run across the box. Tucker was involved in an attacking sense shortly after as he attempted to head a McEachran free-kick into the mix, only for Ripley to intercept.
Jackson made his first two changes with a little over a quarter of an hour left to play, freshening up his frontline by replacing Eisa and Leko with Will Grigg and Nathan Holland.
Grigg was the target of Lawrence’s cross moments after the substitution was made. Lawrence’s ball in, though, was blocked by what appeared to be the hand of a Morecambe man – referee Thomas Parsons ruled that was not the case.
Grant then tried to find Grigg, after some good work by McEachran, but this ball in to the area was also cut out. That was Grant’s final involvement, as he was soon replaced by Dawson Devoy in midfield.
With six minutes to play, Watson found himself in the right place at the right time to deal with Cole Stockton’s dangerous ball into the area. The Dons then survived the resulting corner.
There was a half-chance for Grigg moments later, after he intercepted Ripley’s clearance. However, a long way from goal and with little time to think about it, he was unable to find the unguarded net with his first-time shot.
Grigg had an opportunity from better range shortly after, courtesy of a Devoy pass into the area, but the MK Dons striker was denied from a tight angle by Ripley. Jackson then made his final change, swapping McEachran for Bradley Johnson in the centre of the park.
Johnson helped play his part as MK Dons saw out the remaining minutes. They had to survive a late free-kick and an even later corner – but they did, to make it three wins in a row and create a four-point gap between them and the bottom four.
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson, Lewington, Tucker, McEachran (Johnson 80), Eisa (Grigg 73), Leko (Holland 73), Grant (Devoy 82), Harvie, Lawrence, Maghoma.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Smith, Robson
Goal: Leko (57)
Morecambe: Ripley, Love, Gibson, Crowley, Hunter (Watts 73), Weir, Bedeau (Rawson 87), Niasse (Stockton 60), Shaw (Austerfield 61), Souare (Mayor 61), Simeu.
Subs: Smith, Delaney,
Booked: Simeu, Bedeau, Watts
Referee: T Parsons
Attendance: 6,758 (206 away)