A Rhys Healey goal shortly after the hour mark was enough to give MK Dons all three points against Bolton Wanderers on a bitterly cold afternoon at Stadium MK
Story of the Game
The first chance of the game went to the Dons as some good work by Healey down the left hand side allowed him a shot at goal but Remi Matthews saved well to his right.
MK enjoyed alot of possession in the opening stages and had an excellent chance to score, when Healey again got room in the Bolton box after some great play by Alex Gilbey. Healey could not get a shot away but he laid it to Louis Thompson, and his curled effort went just wide.
Bolton's staunch rear guard action, really did hamper Dons' attacking efforts and chances were very much at premium.
Very little created by either side in the first half as it was very much get up to the final third a turnover possession.
The only real chance for the whole first half fell to Carlton Morris. He found space after some desperate Bolton defending but his shot was blocked well by the Wanderers defender.
Bolton's only real chance came to Ali Crawford who ran well and was just outside of the box but his tame effort was easily held by Lee Nicholls.
The first real chance of the second half fell to the Dons as ball whipped into the box from the left, found its way to Gilbey at the back post, but he could only slice his effort wide of the post.
Bolton then had the best chance of the game. A ball over the top found Daryl Murphy but he could not direct his effort on target and it went wide of Nicholl's right hand post.
MK Dons did eventually make all their possession pay in the 68th minute. Gilbey led a rapid counter-attack and then fed Healey in down the left and after a heavy first touch, the forward slid it past Matthews to give the Dons a deserved lead.
Bolton did try and get themselves back into the game and applied more pressure to Nicholls but struggled to really create many chances.
Dennis Politic did have a chance to level things five minutes from time when his shot from the top of the box but Nicholls saved well down to his left and the resulting corner was easily cleared.
Gilbey did have a chance to put the game beyond Bolton when he wriggled his way into the box, but his shot was smartly saved by Matthews.
Healey did have a chance to double his tally in the last seconds as he rounded Matthews but his shot was cleared superbly by Aristote Nsiala.
MK Dons were able to see out the narrow lead to take all three points.
Takeaways from the game
Russell Martin is really turning the Dons around
After a rough start in management back in November, Martin has really started to turn Dons' fortunes around. This result meant they are now unbeaten in the league in five matches and have achieved three consecutive home wins. Martin has made Stadium MK a difficult place to come in recent weeks, with only Sunderland walking away from Bucks with all three points since November which is mightily impressive.
Bolton's league position does nothing to credit the team
It might be an obvious statement but Bolton's league position really does them a disservice. Keith Hill made his side really tough to break down for the full 90 minutes but it was in the rare instances when they were putting MK under pressure that they conceded. It is looking likely that Bolton will be playing League 2 football next season but if they keep Hill at the helm then an instant promotion isn't too far fetched an idea.
Not an instant classic
Despite all the praise heaped on both sides up to this point, this game was really not one to lift the crowd on what was a cold afternoon in Milton Keynes. Due to the nature of Bolton's style of play, it really stifled any creativity and chances were really at a premium. There were only a finite number of shots on target all game and it was a very subdued atmosphere at Stadium MK as a result.
Man of the Match
This award could really been awarded to the Bolton backline but it would be rewarding a very negative style of football. Instead, this week the award goes to MK Dons forward Healey, who was the difference maker on the day and he was the one who looked most likely to do so for either side. The one player who would be really kicking himself is Murphy, who could've been the matchwinner like he was in November just before Healey scored but obviously his luck was not in today.