Crewe Alexandra defeated MK Dons 2-0 at Stadium MK on a bitterly cold afternoon in Sky Bet League 1.
Mikael Mandron hit a quickfire double in the early portion of the first half to give Crewe all three points on the day. This result brought to an end MK Dons' run of four wins on the bounce and leaves them in 13th, only one place above today's opponents who, thanks to the three points, rose into 14th.
Story of the Game
The visitors made the brighter start to the game and had the first big chance of the match. A free-kick whipped in from the left found Mandron, who directed his header back across goal but Andrew Fisher produced a brilliant save to deny the Frenchman.
The visitors took the lead after 15 minutes; some dogged midfield play from Tom Lowery saw him win the ball from Zak Jules. Lowery picked out Charlie Kirk, and it was two v one, and Kirk found Mandron, who finished on his weaker left foot to give Alexandra the deserved lead.
It was that combination again that doubled Crewe's lead less than five minutes later. A one-two down the left between Mandron and Kirk saw a brilliant chipped pass into Mandron, who took it beautifully on his chest and smashed it on the volley past Fisher.
To MK's credit, they tried to gain some dominance in the first half following Crewe's second, but Crewe did not give them an inch of space to create any meaningful chances.
The Dons had an incredible chance to get back into the game early in the second half. Cameron Jerome was set through on goal by Ethan Laird. He rounded the keeper but only managed to hit the post, and Will Jaaskelainen then gathered the ball in the Crewe goal.
MK kept plugging away as the half wore on but struggled to keep possession due to Crewe's relentless pressure. The introduction of Scott Fraser and Will Grigg did little to improve the Dons in the second half. Though Fraser did have a great effort from just outside the box that flew narrowly wide, that was all the Dons could muster.
The Dons continued to pile the pressure on the Crewe defence as the half went on. Their best late chance came to Charlie Brown, two minutes from time. A whipped ball in was headed towards goal by Brown but Jaaskelainen produced the save of the day to deny him.
Takeaways From The Match
Mandron The Main Man
After two consecutive cameo roles, Mandron marked his return to the side with a superb brace at Stadium MK. His link-up play with Kirk on the left wing was superb all afternoon and gave the MK defence headaches all afternoon. Mandron took both of his goals superbly and had a chance in the second half to get a hat-trick but decided to backheel it to Owen Dale but was unsuccessful.
Style Over Substance?
Today was style over substance for Russel Martin's side as their four game-winning run came to an end today. Don't get it twisted; some of the football the Dons produced today was superb and was a delight to watch, but they struggled to create many clear cut chances. Ok, we can point the finger at some lacklustre finishing from a usually reliable Jerome and a very tight offside early in the first half. Still, the Dons were forever going either backwards or side to side with their passing without any real penetration. Following today's result, it looks like a tall order for Martin's side to squeak into the playoffs as they are now eight points behind Lincoln City in 6th who also have two games in hand on MK.
Crewe Fought For Every Blade Of Grass
We can say how poor MK Dons were today but take nothing away from Crewe's performance this afternoon. Following their last-minute defeat to Hull City on Good Friday, you can tell Crewe came with a point to prove this afternoon. From minute one, Crewe pressured MK into making mistakes, and that was exhibited by the opening goal, as Lowery's determination on Jules caused the mistake that gave Crewe an early lead.
Man Of The Match
This was a toss-up between Crewe's dynamic duo of Kirk and Mandron, but the award has to go to Mandron for his superb double that sunk the Dons. Mandron was a thorn in the Dons defence's side all afternoon and could easily have had a hat trick if he was a little more selfish. Mandron clearly staked a claim to the starting striking role today, and it will be hard to argue his case for starting Crewe's next game against Oxford United on Saturday.