Report from Tom Crocker:-
Three second half goals helped the Cherries come from behind to beat MK Dons, in an entertaining clash at Dean Court sponsored by Classic Eyes.
This match saw the two youngest managers in the football league go head to head and both made two changes to their sides. Howe (32) brought back the previously suspended loanee Adam Smith leaving Lee Bradbury on the bench, despite the veteran's impressive display at Brighton last week. The other change was enforced as Josh McQuoid replaced Michael Symes following a recurrence of his shoulder injury. Karl Robinson (30) decided to start with Dons' top scorer Sam Baldock instead of Lewis Guy, whilst Gary MacKenzie made his first start since recovering from injury in place of Dean Lewington.
The first half was tight, with neither side managing to create clear cut opportunities in the opening stages. Luke Chadwick came closest to breaking the deadlock with a shot from twenty yards out which flashed wide, whilst Bournemouth's best chance was a header from Anton Robinson which keeper Martin comfortably claimed. It was scrappy, with fouls and injuries disrupting the tempo and rhythm of the match so it was no surprise that the opening goal came from a set piece. Just as the three minutes of additional time were announced, MK Dons won a corner. Peter Leven swung it in for the Dons skipper Sean O'Hanlon to powerfully head home at the back post. It was a frustrating time to concede a goal as both Howe and Anton Robinson mentioned after the match so it was to the Cherries' credit that they came out and turned the game around early in the second half.
Steve Fletcher made a fantastic contribution at Brighton last week and was given another chance five minutes into the second half, replacing Marvin Bartley. Just minutes after Fletch arrived on the scene, Bournemouth equalised in unorthodox fashion. A long range free kick was struck poorly along the floor by Marc Pugh but Danny Hollands found a yard of space and re-directed the ball past David Martin and into the bottom corner. It was no more than the Cherries deserved but the home side seemed far from satisfied with just one point.
MK Dons were always going to be dangerous from set pieces due to their height advantage but Bournemouth nearly took the lead counter attacking from a Dons corner. Liam Feeney burst down the right from inside his own half, beating his marker in the process, before delivering an inviting cross which Josh McQuoid couldn't quite reach. The home side and crowd were turning up the heat on their visitors. However, the score could've been level just moments later. Gary MacKenzie got on the end of a ball launched into the box before Sam Baldock pounced. The striker, who was looking for his sixth goal of the season, couldn't add to his tally thanks to Ryan Garry's clearance off of the line.
Despite the Dons looking like scoring from a set piece, it was in fact the Cherries who turned the game in their favour following a succession of corners. After Adam Smith had latched onto the end of a low corner from Pugh, his shot deflected narrowly over the bar for another corner kick. Marc Pugh this time decided to curl the ball into the centre and it went all the way through to Anton Robinson at the far post to head home and give the Cherries a deserved lead.
As had happened with the first goal, the visitors had an opportunity to score not long after their opponents. Substitute Jabo Ibehre raced past the defence before sliding his shot wide of Jalal's near post. It was probably the Dons best opening of the match and a real wasted chance. This spurred the Cherries on to ensure they wrapped up the points as soon as possible. A minute after Ibehre's miss, Marc Pugh took his tally to six for the season following a super cross from none other than Steve Fletcher. No-one would've been surprised had Fletcher turned in a Marc Pugh cross, but it was other way around as the Dons struggled to cope with the home side's impressive movement, delivery and finishing. In response to the goal MK Dons decided to go with a more attacking formation bringing off defender Danny Woodards and replacing him with striker Lewis Guy.
The final ten minutes were very lively, starting with an injury to the linesman who had to be replaced by the fourth official. Two minutes later, referee Roger East awarded MK Dons with an opportunity to set up a grandstand finish with a penalty for a foul on Balanta. Peter Leven stepped up and, despite Jalal going the right way, found the bottom corner to bring the score to 3-2.
Bournemouth could've restored their two goal cushion not long after when a Liam Feeney cross was headed onto the bar by Josh McQuoid. Players and fans alike must've been having flashbacks to the two goal lead lost against Notts County in August, when five minutes of added time were signalled.
In truth, the Cherries were barely tested in those extra minutes which were dominated by cards. After Danny Hollands went down injured, Angelo Balanta and Rhoys Wiggins came to blows resulting in the MK Dons man receiving a straight red card. Leven, McQuoid and Pugh were all booked for dissent and unsporting behaviour between that moment and the end of the match but the result is the most important thing for Bournemouth today.
These three points lift the Cherries up to third in the table ahead of a tricky looking trip to Hillsborough next Saturday. Anton Robinson commented on this trip saying it was "one of the perks of getting promoted" and it certainly should be an excellent occasion for all of the Bournemouth players.
AFC Bournemouth: Jalal; Smith, Garry, Pearce (c), Wiggins; Robinson, Bartley (Fletcher 51), Hollands, Feeney, Pugh, McQuoid
Subs not used: Stewart, Bradbury, Cummings, Cooper, Partington, Taylor
Goals: Hollands (55), Robinson (64), Pugh (70)
Milton Keynes Dons: Martin; Doumbe, O'Hanlon (c), MacKenzie, Woodards (Guy 71); Chadwick, Hamann (Gleeson 35), Leven, Balanta; Baldock, Easter (Ibehre 60)
Subs not used: Searle, Chicksen, Carrington, Wilbraham
Goals: O'Hanlon (45), Leven (85)
Red Card: Balanta (90+3)