Match report: MK Dons 0 PNE 2

MK Dons v PNE
MK Dons v PNE
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Preston North End came out on top of their promotion battle with MK Dons at stadium:mk to cement their top-two place.

Callum Robinson fired PNE into a 65th minute lead, with the advantage doubled five minutes later.

The identity of the scorer of the second goal is still being debated, with Joe Garner and Paul Huntington both claiming it.

Their rose together to meet a corner from Paul Gallagher, both running off to celebrate as if they had got the last touch.

The main thing was that it helped North End to another victory, this their sixth win out of the last seven.

After a nip and tuck first half, Simon Grayson’s men stepped up the pace after the break and were worthy winners.

They defended well, with Sam Johnstone only having one save of any note to make in the game.

In midfield they were tigerish, with the creative side of the team coming to the fore as the contest progressed.

Victory spelt joy for 1,944 Preston supporters who made the trip by rail and road, the big following making themselves heard throughout.

Grayson had named an unchanged side, Gallagher having recovered from a knock picked up in the 2-2 draw against Doncaster on Tuesday night.

The one change on the bench saw Calum Woods replace Scott Wiseman who had picked up a tight hamstring in training.

Early on, Garner blazed a first-time volley from the edge of the box high over the bar

Garner and Kyle McFadzean were then involved in a dual to try and meet a long punt forward from Gallagher, McFadzean managing to hold off the PNE striker and guide the ball back to his keeper.

At the other end, Dean Bodwitch swept a shot high and wide after meeting Carl Baker’s low centre from the right-wing.

In the 16th minute, Baker whipped in a free-kick from the other side which travelled across the box and was put out for a corner by Tom Clarke at the back post.

The best chance of the first period fell to the hosts, McFadzean letting fly with a shot from fully 30 yards which Sam Johnstone dived to his left to push away.

Bailey Wright found Daniel Johnson with a decisive pass after 25 minutes, the midfielder turning into space and hitting a left-foot shot which went straight at keeper Ian McLoughlin.

Home striker Devante Cole put a header over the bar after meeting Antony Kay’s cross.

Scott Laird chanced his arm with a shot from distance which McLoughlin fumbled but held at the second attempt.

Six minutes before the interval, Baker curled a free-kick over the Preston wall, Johnstone getting across to save comfortably.

The first action of the second half saw Robinson fouled by Jordan Spence to earn a free-kick 25 yards out.

Gallagher whipped it into the middle, Garner colliding with McLoughlin in the six-yard box as they tried to win it.

In the 52nd minute, Gallagher intercepted a stray pass in the MK Dons half and drove towards the box.

With better options to the side of him, he chose to shoot, the ball going high over the bar and into the PNE fans behind the goal.

Great work by Johnson carved out a good chance for North End, his low pull-back finding Garner who lifted a first-time shot just too high.

The home defence opened up when Robinson came inside off the left-wing in the 62nd minute and hit a right-foot shot which McLoughlin dived to save low down to his left.

Robinson was not to be denied three minutes later when he fired North End into the lead.

Wright’s strong challenge on Cole saw the ball spin forward to Garner inside the hosts’ half and he fed the ball out to his left to find Robinson.

The Aston Villa loan man was in acres of space to run into the box and shoot across McLoughlin into the net.

Five minutes later the lead was doubled, Gallagher sent over a corner into the box which Garner and Huntington both jumped to meet.

As the ball hit the back of the net both players indicated they had got the touch as they ran off to celebrate.

Garner was just in front of Huntington with a defender in between but Huntington was higher in the air.

In the closing stages, Johnson side-footed a shot just wide after Laird had played him in.

North End saw out the game professionally, keeping a clean sheet against Karl Robinson who are the highest goalscorers in the division at home.

MK Dons: McLoughlin, Spence (Green 80), McFadzean, Kay, Walsh, Potter, Carruthers, C Baker, Bowditch (Powell 61), Grigg, Cole (Reeves 72). Subs not used: Flanagan, Andrews, L Baker, Burns.

PNE: Johnstone, Clarke, Huntington, Wright, Laird, Welsh, Humphrey (Beckford 86), Johnson, Gallagher, Robinson (Woods 90), Garner (Davies 86). Subs not used: Kilkenny, Reid, Ebanks-Blake, Stuckmann.

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

Attendance: 10,618 (1,944 PNE)