Joe Mason scored a first half hat-trick as MK Dons beat Fleetwood Town 3-1.
The Irish striker gave MK Dons an early lead, and would then make it a first half hat-trick with two further goals in 8 minutes.
Sam Finley would grab a goal back for Fleetwood Town, who would create a number of late chances to make things even closer. But MK Dons ultimately did enough to get the result over the line and pick up victory in their first home game of 2021.
After a weekend defeat by Peterborough, MK Dons returned to stadium mk for their first game at home since Boxing Day and looked to see if they could make it back-to-back home victories.
The team selected included a return to the starting 11 for Warren O’Hora, the day after his loan from Brighton was made permanent.
But the home side nearly fell behind in controversial fashion inside the opening minute. The linesman initially seemed to raise a flag for offside against Josh Morris but the Fleetwood winger’s shot was saved by Andy Fisher and would’ve counted had it beat the Dons goalkeeper.
Having got through that, it was the Dons who struck first. The home side won possession in the Fleetwood half, before home debutant Ethan Laird set up Mason, who fired past Joe Hilton to open the scoring.
Fleetwood did make life awkward for MK Dons with a few set-pieces, but the Dons had the game’s next major opportunity. It fell for Lasse Sorensen, who saw a first time drive saved by Hilton.
Mason would then see a deflected effort saved by the Fleetwood goalkeeper, but he would soon be celebrating a second goal. The striker won the ball back, saw the ball return to him after a defender initially dispossessed Scott Fraser, and slam it past Hilton.
It wasn’t too long before he got another. A through-pass looked to have been intercepted by Charlie Mulgrew, but Mason was able to grab the ball, advance, beat Hilton and wrap up his first half treble.
It was the first time an MK Dons player scored a hat-trick in a league match since September 2016, which was scored by Ryan Colclough and also came against Fleetwood.
MK Dons scored 4 against Fleetwood that afternoon and had chances to make it 4 here as well. Sorensen would have a shot saved, before Laird had a strike blocked, and Jerome then contrived to fire over from close range.
Fleetwood began the second period in a more positive manner and came very close to a goal back just under 10 minutes after the break. Half-time sub Sam Finley was able to create space for himself and his cross found Kyle Vassell, who saw a shot from close range saved by Fisher, before a combination of Dean Lewington and O’Hora thwarted an attempt to poke in the rebound.
Finley then hit the crossbar before Morris fired wide as Fleetwood tried to find a route back into the contest.
The home side would lose Laird to injury but then almost grabbed a fourth goal, as Fraser nicked the ball off James Hill before seeing a drive saved by Hilton.
An open contest saw each side exchange opportunities as the game continued. Fleetwood would come very close when Madden threaded through Kyle Vassell, who saw a strike saved by Fisher. Within seconds of that, Hilton did well to make his own stop to deny Sorensen.
Fleetwood would grab a goal back inside the last 10 minutes, as a pass across the box by Madden found Finley, who rifled a first-time shot from outside the box past Fisher.
The away side became more frantic as they tried to grab another, with a great chance seeing Callum Camps denied by Fisher. They still could’ve grabbed another, with Vassell poking wide and the Dons keeper denying Jordan Rossiter, but the home side did enough to see the job through.
MK Dons: Fisher – Poole, O’Hora, Lewington – Laird (Sorinola 57), Sorensen (Freeman 84), Fraser, Gladwin, Harvie – Mason (Johnson 71), Jerome (Brown 84)
Subs: Nicholls, Williams, Davies
Goal: Mason (4, 21, 28)
Fleetwood: Hilton – Connolly, Hill (Holgate 65), Mulgrew, Andrew (Rydel 80) – Whelan (Rossiter 80), Camps, Coutts (Finley 45) – J. Morris (S. Morris 80), Vassell, Madden
Subs: Duffy, Saunders
Goal: Finley (83)
Booked: Coutts, Finley, Madden