MK Dons picked up a first win of 2022 as they registered a 1-0 win over AFC Wimbledon at stadium mk.
Matt O’Riley scored the game’s only goal, as the midfielder put the home side in front just before the half hour mark. The away side then had defender Nesta Guinness-Walker sent off for two yellow cards.
Liam Manning’s side did probe and create opportunities but were unable to find themselves a second. However they were just about able to get things over the line and see off their visitors from South West London.
A first victory since Boxing Day, and first at home since November 20th, lifts the Dons up to 5th in a tightly packed table. The team are level on points with Oxford United and Plymouth Argyle behind, and two points behind 4th place Wigan, although the side from Lancashire have played four games less.
The latest meeting of the post-Wimbledon FC rivals came at an interesting point in MK Dons’ season. The home team had won just 1 of their previous 5 League One games, while the match also came on the day that goalkeeper Andy Fisher was sold to Swansea City.
Franco Ravizzoli was drafted in for his first start in an EFL game, with 16-year-old Ronnie Sandford starting on the bench as sub keeper. The Dons also called upon Theo Corbeanu, who made his debut from the start after joining from Wolves last week.
In a lively atmosphere, MK Dons began to assert themselves gradually after a slow opening. Scott Twine saw one strike deflected wide and another blocked, while Harry Darling also headed wide.
The visitors did have a few attacking forays, only to be let down by the final ball, before MK Dons responded with attacks of their own. Corbeanu had a shot blocked, with O’Riley wafting a rebound into the stands, while Twine had two strikes blocked at a corner.
MK Dons were looking likelier to make a breakthrough, and did it just before the half hour mark thanks to a mistake by AFC Wimbledon. An underhit backpass exposed goalkeeper Nik Tzanev to pressure, and Mo Eisa intercepted his attempt to pass out. Via Twine and Tennai Watson, the ball eventually landed for O’Riley, who steered a strike home.
The visitors could’ve equalised quickly afterwards, with Ayoub Assal denied by Ravizzoli after breaking through, although an offside flag would’ve ruled out any goal.
Just as Mark Robinson’s side were beginning to offer more, however, they had a man sent off. Already on a booking, defender Guinness-Walker was penalised for a foul on the lively Corbeanu, leading to the referee duly handing a second caution and subsequent dismissal.
There was still a chance for the visitors, as Ben Heneghan won a header at a corner but headed straight at Ravizzoli.
MK Dons could’ve ended the half with a further goal to their name, as Watson had a strike charged down before Daniel Harvie won possession and fired across goal and out.
The early stages of the second half would see AFC Wimbledon sporadically threaten on fast counters, but struggle to turn that into chances, with their best attempt seeing Anthony Hartigan fire one into the stands.
MK Dons enjoyed a decent amount of possession, and a few chances for a second. Corbeanu saw a tapped effort kept out by Tzanev, with the keeper also denying Harvie’s longer range attempt. A great chance spurned came when Twine went on a flying run but waited too long to pass or shoot and ended up passing behind other attacking home players.
As the game moved into the final stages, MK Dons still had opportunities for further goals. Twine was denied by Tzanev after a mazy run before having the ball bundled off him by Paul Osew when trying to turn in Eisa’s lofted cross, before Corbeanu saw a well-drilled effort crash just wide.
In injury time, AFC Wimbledon came close to an equaliser, as Cheye Alexander saw a great strike from a half-cleared throw swerve just wide at the last minute. Alexander saw another try also crash just wide with the final kick, and with that, MK Dons held out to take the points.
MK Dons: Ravizzoli – O’Hora, Darling, Lewington – Watson (Kioso 84), O’Riley (McEachran 73), Robson, Harvie – Twine – Corbeanu (Parrott 90), Eisa
Subs not used: Sandford, Jules, Boateng, Ilunga
Goal: O’Riley (29)
AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev – Heneghan, Nightingale, Guinness-Walker – Alexander, Woodyard, Hartigan, Rudoni – McCormick (Osew 41) – Palmer, Assal (Kaja 73)
Subs not used: Oualah, Marsh, Chislett, Mebude
Sent Off: Guinness-Walker