REPORT: MK Dons v Wanderers

Wanderers moved into the top six thanks to a superb victory on a night of firsts at Stadium MK.

A first away win of the season was set up by Dion Charles’ first league goal of the season as he gave the Whites a half-time lead from the penalty spot.

And a first ever win at MK Dons – at the fifth attempt – was confirmed when Gethin Jones powered home his first goal of the season to make it a hat-trick of wins for Ian Evatt’s men.

This was arguably the most impressive of the three as Wanderers backed up a home win over Charlton ahead of the enforced weekend break with an almost foot-perfect away performance.

The Whites never gave Dons a foothold in the contest as they collected a welcome first clean sheet in six games.

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And they answered Evatt’s call to get things right in both boxes to show enough of a cutting edge to make sure a dominant performance yielded maximum points and fifth place in the table.

After a minute’s silence in memory of The Queen and the playing of the national anthem, Wanderers made their return to action with one change to the side that had started the victory over Charlton 10 days previously.

Elias Kachunga replaced Amadou Bakayoko as Charles’ strike partner and after Kachunga might have had an early penalty after being tugged in the box, the pair were involved in the first real chance with a quarter of an hour gone.

Kachunga’s link-up with Conor Bradley opened up the Dons’ defence and when Bradley pulled the ball back for Charles, his heavy first touch allowed the ball to run and Jack Tucker to make up ground and make a block.

Wanderers were starting to crank up the pressure and it took a fine save from Jamie Cumming to keep out a deflected effort from George Thomason.

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But with half an hour gone Cumming was helpless to prevent Charles from firing the Whites ahead from the penalty spot.

The visitors again moved the ball well to work their way into the penalty area and when Dawson Devoy slid into Gethin Jones, referee Christopher Pollard had one of the easier decisions to make.

With Aaron Morley on the bench, Charles took over the spot-kick duties and after a lengthy delay kept his cool to drill home and open his league account with a fourth goal of the season.

Wanderers had largely nullified any threat from the hosts, although James Trafford had to scramble to his right to make sure he had covered a skidding effort from Daniel Oyegoke before the Whites ended the half on the front foot again as Charles headed an excellent Jones’ cross wide.

Charles remained a real threat and six minutes into the second half he again went close to extending Wanderers’ lead.

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His persistence in tandem with Kieran Lee saw Wanderers win back and possession and when Lee released Bradley, another dangerous ball in from the youngster picked out Charles for a clipped effort superbly saved by Cumming.

A superb piece of defending by George Johnston at the other end denied Matthew Dennis a rare sight of goal for the Dons.

And with an hour gone Wanderers deservedly went 2-0 up through the unlikely figure of Jones.

The defender hadn’t scored since May, 2021 but this one was worth the wait as he leapt to meet a peach of a free-kick from Jack Iredale with a thumping header which hit the underside of the bar and bounced down into the back of the net.

Iredale almost followed suit five minutes later with a far-post header which hit the woodwork and while three goals would have far from flattered Wanderers, they had already done enough to secure an emphatic victory which elevated them to a place among the early front-runners.

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Wanderers: Trafford; Jones, Santos, Johnston; Bradley, Williams, Thomason (Morley 86), Iredale; Lee (Dempsey 73); Kachunga (Bakayoko 77), Charles (Sadlier 86). Substitutes: John, Aimson, Afolayan.

Booked: Morley

MK Dons: Cumming; Tucker, O’Hora, Jules; Oyegoke, Smith (Burns 75), Devoy, Johnson (McEachran, 66), Harvie; Grigg (Kayode 66), Dennis. Substitutes: Ravizzoli, Lewington, Grant, Lawrence.

Booked: Tucker

Referee: Charles Pollard

Attendance: 6,339 (760 Wanderers)

Read Time: 4 mins