MK Dons v Port Vale
Sunday 9th October 2016
At Stadium MK
Attendance: 8,259 including 292 visiting supporters
Bruno Ribeiro’s side picked up their first away win of the season and moved into fourth place in the table, with Alex Jones scoring the decisive goal in front of the Sky TV cameras.
There was an element of good fortune about the goal, admittedly, after Dons’ ‘keeper David Martin had dived to his right to keep out Jones’ spot kick, but Vale’s top scorer was on hand to put away the loose ball.
With the home side having failed to win on home soil all season – in fact since last March – and Vale having failed to win away from home, something surely had to give.
Despite that poor home record, the Dons had won their previous two fixtures, while Vale had lost their previous two – perhaps the professional gamblers will have put their money on a draw.
Anthony Grant returned to the starting line-up after serving a one-match suspension and he was joined by Kjell Knops, back in the side after being rested.
Knops slotted in at left back, with Sam Hart reverting to left side of midfield, in the absence of Jerome Thomas who failed to recover from injury in time for the game.
Vale were forced to soak up early MK Dons pressure, restricting the home side in front of goal, but in the 6th minute they had ‘keeper Jak Alnwick to thank.
A right wing cross from Samir Carruthers saw Kieran Agard leap to make a solid connection, steering the ball towards Alnwick’s left hand upright, but the Vale ‘keeper dived to push the ball around the post for a corner.
The home side then wasted a half chance when Dean Bowditch picked up Nathan Smith’s headed clearance but could only succeed in firing high over the Vale crossbar.
It was the home side who were having the better of things in terms of possession and also territorially, with Vale having to remain both disciplined and patient.
Vale had a chance to do something when Sam Foley was up-ended 30 yards out in the 18th minute. Anthony Grant played he free kick short to Sam Hart, but his shot flew over the bar without troubling Dons’ ‘keeper David Martin.
Despite their possession , the home side did little to hurt the visitors, and Vale looked to be holding out, but it took a well-timed tackle from Nathan Smith to prevent a simple chance on goal by Agard.
Dons’ skipper almost broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute when he took advantage of a sip and smashed his shot against the upright.
Vale were given a perfect opportunity to take the lead in the 34th minute when Lewington got a touch on the ball as it flew over his head, with Paterson waiting to pounce.
GOAL: ALEX JONEShit the spot kick to the goalkeeper’s right, but Martin guessed correctly to make the save – Jones, however, was on hand to stick the loose ball into the back of the net.
The effect it had on the confidence of the home side was soon evident and Vale all of a sudden looked more threatening going forward.
The two sides went in a half time with Vale holding a narrow lead – the first time they have been in front away from home at half time this season.
If Vale had expected the home side to come at them after the break, there were not disappointed, but again Vale coped well enough and the Dons didn’t pose too much of a threat.
Kjell Knops picked up a yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Williams out on the touchline before the home side made a change, sending on Ben Reeves in place of Ed Upson.
Alnwick then had to be alert to the danger as Dean Bowditch cut inside from the right to drill a low angled drive, which the Vale ‘keeper blocked.
Vale made a change in the 73rd minute when Kiko came off the bench, with Martin Paterson going off to make way, as Vale looked to tighten up at the back to keep hold of their lead.
Alex Jones was denied his and Vale’s second goal when Martin threw himself to his left to make the save as Vale, despite strengthened defensively, went looking for the killer goal.
Vale made another substitution in the 86th minute, putting on striker Dan Turner, fresh from a loan spell with Kidsgrove Athletic, in place of Sam Hart.
There were a few surprises when the fourth official held up his board to indicate there would be five minutes of stoppage time – something welcomed by the home side, but not by the Vale.
But in the end Vale held out for three valuable away points, to make up for their home defeat to bottom of the table Coventry City in the previous league fixture.
MK DONS:David Martin, Dean Lewington, Joe Walsh, Ed Upson, Samir Carruthers, Darren Potter, Dean Bowditch, George B Williams, Kieran Agard, Paul Downing, Ryan Colclough. SUBS: Lee Nichols. Ben Reeves, Jack Hendry, Daniel Powell, Kabongo Tshimanga, Nicky Maynard, Brandon Thomas-Asante
PORT VALE:Jack Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Remie Streete, Kjell Knops, Sam Foley, Martin Paterson, Nathan Smith, Alex Jones, Sebastien Amoros, Anthony Grant, Sam Harrt. SUBS: Miguel Santos, Calvin Mac-Intosch, Rigino Cicilia, Dan Turner, Kiko, Quentin Pereira, Gezim Shalaj