First-half goals secure win for Dons as they retake top spot

MK Dons retook top spot in League Two with a narrow win over Doncaster Rovers on Saturday
MK Dons retook top spot in League Two with a narrow win over Doncaster Rovers on Saturday

First-half goals ensured MK Dons would return to the top of League Two on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Doncaster Rovers at Stadium MK.

Unconvincing throughout, goals from Daniel Harvie and Warren O’Hora put the hosts in control at the break, despite scares from Modou Faal at the other end. While Jonathan Leko and Mo Eisa could have added to the total before the interval, Doncaster emerged a different side in the second-half and pulled one back through substitute Luke Molyneux on not long after the restart.

From there, the win-less Rovers threw everything they had at Dons, but despite their control of the second period were unable to get the crucial equaliser.

Worrying for Dons was the injury to Mo Eisa, as he limped out later after picking up a knock on the hour mark.

After missing the game against Colchester United, MJ Williams returned from injury to make the substitute's bench as Graham Alexander stuck with the same side which started in Essex a week prior. Williams came onto the bench in place of Nathan Holland, who departed on Thursday to fellow League Two side Forest Green Rovers.

Having taken on another side at the wrong end of the table last week and nearly fluffing their lines at Colchester, Dons could have opened the scoring inside 30 seconds when Cameron Norman slid an effort wide, but equally should have been a goal down barely a minute later when Modou Faal somehow fired wide from eight yards.

The Gambian had a lot of joy in the early stages, firing into the arms of keeper Craig MacGillivray again before putting another effort wide of the mark as Doncaster, seeking their first win of the season, looked the better of the two sides.

But Dons though would put themselves in front just as the pressure was beginning to mount on 16 minutes. Jonathan Leko was looking as lively as ever and though his effort from a tight angle was deflected, it fell to Daniel Harvie to poke home his second goal of the season.

Leko could have made it 2-0 within a couple of minutes but saw his effort skid just wide of the upright, while Ian Lawlor was a match for Alex Gilbey's volley from the edge of the box as Dons looked to capitalise.

While they looked unconvincing in the midfield department at times, with Ethan Robson and Dawson Devoy not offering up much resistance in the centre of the park, Dons would double their lead on 33 minutes when Warren O'Hora's header found home.

Mo Eisa, looking to make it five goals in the first five league games this season, could have ended the half with a brace but while his free-kick was up and over the wall into the arms of Lawlor, the keeper made a brilliant stop to deny him when the striker was bearing down on goal to deflect his strike wide.

Two substitutions at the interval for Grant McCann's side changed the course of the game though, and with Luke Molyneux and Zain Westbrooke, Doncaster dominated the second-half.

There were a few warning signs for the hosts in the opening 10 minutes of the second-half before Molyneux rifled one back for Rovers as they sought something from the game which had looked unlikely at the interval.

Dons were dealt another blow on the hour mark when Mo Eisa picked up a knock as he chased down a ball in his direction, but though he would limp on, he struggled to make an impact thereafter.

Though MJ Williams made his return to the side, and Matt Dennis was added to the action too, Dons continued to look distinctly second-best as Doncaster controlled things, but though they had half-chances, were unable to get back on level terms.

Doncaster piled on the pressure in stoppage time, winning a string of corners, needing big blocks from Gilbey and Harvie to prevent Rovers from catching sight of goal, but they were able to cling on and claim their fourth win of the season to go top of the table.

Referee: Andrew Kitchen

Attendance: 5,697

MK Dons: MacGillivray, O’Hora, Tucker, Smith (Hunter 76), Harvie, Norman, Robson, Gilbey, Devoy (Williams 62), Eisa (Ilunga 81), Leko (Dennis 62)

Subs not used: Harness, Grant, Dean

Doncaster Rovers: Lawlor, Maxwell (Roberts 81), Olowu (Westbrooke 46), Wood, Broadbent, Rowe (Goodman 90), Bailey, Sotona (Molyneux 46), Ironside, Senior, Faal

Subs not used: Jones, Long, Faulkner

Booked: Smith, Senior