Second-Half Goals See MK Dons Extend Unbeaten Home Run

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MK Dons continued their unbeaten start at home in the league as Carlisle United became the latest victims at Stadium MK. The visitors made it difficult for the Dons, who were forced into a number of changes, but two excellent second-half goals helped them record their third successive 2-0 home win in League Two.

Second-Half Goals See MK Dons Extend Unbeaten Home Run

Visitors Make Life Difficult

The pattern of the game felt very similar to that of the Morecambe match a couple of weeks ago. Paul Tisdale’s side started brightly within the opening ten minutes but the away side settled into the game after that and looked fairly threatening when going forward.

Despite coming close on numerous occasions, usually through a slightly-overhit cross or loose final ball, it was Carlisle that had the first big opportunity to break the deadlock. They broke down the left and a perfect low cross to the far post was met by the sliding Hallam Hope but Lee Nicholls scampered across and got there just before the ball rolled over the line.

If Carlisle thought they had come close to opening the scoring, it was nothing compared to the chance the Dons had on the brink of half-time. Some excellent work down the right-hand side between Alex Gilbey and Connor McGrandles presented Gilbey with acres of space to pick out a pass to Rhys Healey. However, when it seemed the man in-form had tapped MK in front, Gary Liddle somehow hooked the ball off the line to keep the score level.

Second-Half Breakthrough

All of Carlisle’s hard work in the first half was undone within five minutes of the re-start. A succession of early corners built up a lot of pressure in the Carlisle defence and they could only clear as far as Jordan Houghton. After taking a touch, he drilled low into the corner and the ball just glanced the post before nestling in the corner to give the hosts a lead that, ultimately, they deserved.

That goal seemed to settle the Dons down and they looked far more up for the game from that point on. They didn’t have to wait long for their second, either, as Kieran Agard continued his impressive form and score his ninth of the season. Massive credit must go to Dean Lewington for his part in the goal as he chased down a long ball over the top and delivered an inch-perfect cross to the feet of Agard who, with a defender either side of him, managed to get between them and power an effort past Adam Collin.

Versatility on Show

Two key players were missing for MK Dons this afternoon as Jordan Moore-Taylor and Chuks Aneke were not risked following their injuries in the win over Morecambe. Houghton moved into centre-back to cover Moore-Taylor, with Ouss Cisse, making his first start since returning from injury, coming into the midfield. Lawson D’ath also made his first league start of the season in place of Aneke, meaning Agard started the game as the out-and-out striker.

Houghton was impeccable at the heart of the defence, using the partnerships he has forged with George Williams and Baily Cargill while playing in midfield to good effect. Agard, too, rarely stayed in that striker position, as the fluidity of the attacking trio was no different to previous games. Healey, D’ath and Agard were constantly swapping positions and keeping the Carlisle defence on their toes and were linking up well with the wing-backs, Lewington and McGrandles.

Paul Tisdale has rarely had to worry about injuries this season with such a large squad, hence why Peter Pawlett, Osman Sow and McGrandles have hardly been missed during the Dons’ run to the top of the table. Pawlett made his return against Crawley last month and came on again today for his first performance since that game after suffering a slight setback, while Sow also made an appearance for the first time since Lincoln away back in September.

However, the return of these players can only be a good thing for the boss as the usual rotation will be needed to get through the cluster of festive fixtures. Their returns could hardly be better timed, especially when they are putting in positive cameo performances in games such as this one.

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