MK Dons’ recent winning run came to an end after a 2-0 defeat at home by Crewe Alexandra.
Mikael Mandron rolled Crewe ahead after the quarter hour mark, and then doubled his tally five minutes later. The home side had plenty of possession in the consequent 70 minutes, but were unable to make the most of chances when they came as they suffered a first defeat in five.
The result leaves MK Dons 13th in the table and now level on points with Crewe in the table, who join MK on 54 points after the win. The two teams find themselves 8 points behind the play-offs and 17 points above the relegation zone.
After the postponement of the Good Friday trip to Lincoln, MK Dons’ attention turned to fellow midtable outfit Crewe, and with it attempt to grab a fifth straight win.
The Dons had been out of action for over a week while Crewe came to Milton Keynes on the back of a Good Friday defeat to leaders Hull City.
But the visitors served an early notice of intent, as they pressurised the Dons’ midfielders and defence a lot in the early stages. They would soon match that with the game’s first major chance, as a free-kick following a foul by Harry Darling would pick out Mandron, who saw a header well stopped by Andy Fisher.
MK Dons would have the ball in the back of the net in response. Moments after Matt O’Riley had a shot blocked, his cross found Cameron Jerome for a tap past Will Jaaskelainen. However, Jerome was deemed offside, and the goal was chalked off.
Crewe would continue to look dangerous when going forward, and it would be the away side who struck first. Zak Jules was dispossessed just inside his own half, and that allowed Crewe to advance with 3 players leading the charge. The move ended with Charlie Kirk squaring for Mandron, who controlled and then finished.
It could nearly have been worse for MK Dons moments later when Crewe had the ball in the back of the net after a free-kick, but the offside flag had been raised long before it crossed the line.
However, Mandron and Crewe would then inflict further pain on the Dons with a second goal. The away side worked the ball down the left flank, and a looped cross by Kirk picked out Mandron, who was able to squeeze a strike underneath Fisher and into the bottom corner.
A strike from range by Tom Lowery then had to be saved by Fisher, as Crewe continued to pose the Dons’ defence trouble.
MK did have a brief spell of positive play, though a wayward Harry Darling header was the best the spell produced.
Kirk would fail to make the most of two one-on-one opportunities before the break after taking too long to shoot. The Crewe attacker then nearly struck in the opening minute of the second half after Darling lost the ball, but under pressure from the recovering Darling, Kirk fired wide.
The hosts then had perhaps their best chances to grab one back. Jerome would be crowded out when well placed and unable to shoot with one break, but he would then come much closer. After Ethan Laird did well to elude some Crewe challenges, the wing back played Jerome through. He rounded Will Jaaskelainen in the Crewe goal, but could only strike the post at the end of the move.
Crewe should’ve made the Dons pay for missing that. A fast break saw Mandron and Kirk lead the charge, but the pair seemed to leave it to each other to shoot, and the ball went out.
MK Dons then suffered a blow after Jerome was forced off with an injury. This was then compounded when Louis Thompson was also withdrawn with an injury. As a result, it saw the game begin to slow down, with Crewe content to allow MK Dons a lot of possession around the halfway line with the Dons struggling to break through.
O’Riley would send a few attempts from range off target, with one from 30 yards or so just bouncing wide and one free-kick going nowhere near.
Sub Will Grigg would see an attempt to play in fellow replacement Charlie Brown thwarted by a covering touch by Harry Pickering, and his own try would curl wide.
In the final stages, MK Dons began to show something more. Moments after O’Riley had a snapshot deflect wide and Darling had a looper header easily stopped by Jaaskelainen, MK Dons had a great chance when Scott Fraser’s cross picked out Brown. But the striker’s header was clawed away very nicely by the Crewe keeper.
O’Riley would see a solo strike saved by Jaaskelainen before the Crewe keeper made a very good stop in added time to deny Darling. But it was too little too late for the hosts, who slipped to a first defeat since March 9th.
MK Dons: MK Dons: Fisher – O’Hora, Darling, Jules – Harvie, McEachran (Kasumu 60), Surman (Brown 74), Laird (Sorinola 74) – O’Riley, Thompson (Fraser 60) – Jerome (Grigg 58)
Subs: Nicholls, Lewington
Crewe: Jaaskelainen – Offord (Daniels 90), Lancashire, Beckles, Pickering – Murphy, Wintle, Lowery (Ainley 82) – Kirk (Walker 72), Mandron (Porter 90), Dale (Adebisi 72)
Subs: Richards, Wood
Goal: Mandron (15, 20)
Booked: Lancashire, Wintle