By Martin Atherton
MK Dons comfortably swept Fleetwood Town away 3-1 in the end – but Martin’s side certainly made it a lot harder for themselves than they should have.
A Joe Mason hat-trick appeared to have the game out of sight by half time, the striker latching onto a number of mistakes made by a disjointed Fleetwood side.
In the second half, though, the Dons appeared to completely crumble and allow their opponents back into the game – however, they were able to beat away some last-ditch efforts by the away side to hold onto all three points.
Martin’s side, as is the status quo, could very easily have gone 1-0 down within the first few minutes – Paddy Madden being played onside by Dean Lewington before forcing Andrew Fisher into an excellent save.
But despite their poor start, the Dons were quick to find their feet and took the lead through Joe Mason – the striker being found excellently by Manchester United loanee Ethan Laird to fire past Joe Hilton in the Trawlermen’s net. 1-0!
And despite pre-game cries as to why the former Plymouth man was included in the lineup, Mason then quickly doubled his tally for the evening – pickpocketing veteran Coutts, exchanging a one-two with Fraser, before then slamming the ball into the net. 2-0!
Quickly after, looking for a response, the away side then made a rare venture forward – Poole, however, totally on hand to deal with the danger before Gladwin cleared.
But then two became three for the Dons as Mason sealed his hat-trick, latching onto a loose back pass before firing once again past Hilton. 3-0!
At this point, the Dons had hit full cruise control and were totally dominant. Ben Gladwin in the centre was pulling the strings; O’Hora, making his first appearance since signing permanently, looked as controlled as ever in the middle of the back three. HT 3-0.
The second half, though, proved far more challenging for a Dons side who started to tire.
Almost immediately, Lewington was forced into making a last-gasp stop on the line after some confusion in the box – a sign of things to come.
Josh Morris was next to have a go, sending a speculative effort at Fisher from range with comfortably went down the ‘keeper’s throat.
Lasse Sørensen should have finished things as the game came to a close – played through on goal by Cameron Jerome – but the Stoke City loanee saw his shot dip just wide of Hilton’s post and out for a corner.
But still the away side pushed further forward in search of an equaliser. Sam Finley rattled the crossbar with an excellent effort, whilst Kyle Vassell tested Fisher once again.
And that Fleetwood pressure eventually culminated in a goal – Finley firing home from 25 yards in an unstoppable fashion – and it was, in some respects, game on again. 3-1.
But the Dons were able to weather that final storm and see the game out, adding another three points onto the board and moving another place up the League One table. FT 3-1! GET IN!
A disappointing second half, perhaps, but still another three points on the board and those first thirty minutes should serve as a reminder of the damage the Dons can cause when in full flow.
I’m dead chuffed for Joe Mason who, after a run of difficult games, showed exactly the sort of striker he is today – a fox in the box with a great finish on him. Get him a run of games in this side and he’ll flourish.
A well-deserved week off now for the Dons, who are back in action next Tuesday at Stadium MK against Charlton Athletic.