The Dons claimed their first home win since mid-October with a reasonably comfortable win over Dean Holdsworth’s much improved Newport County.
Terry Brown brought back Kennedy Adjei into the starting XI, moving Sam Hatton to right back and pairing Ben Judge with Jake Leberl at the back and James Pullen starting in goal for only the second time this season.
For all the manager’s pack-shuffling, it was the Welsh visitors who held the early upper hand. Newport, for whom former Wimbledon winger Kevin Cooper started, began the stronger and the diminutive Cooper and skipper Rose certainly had the better of the early midfield exchanges. Pullen looked nervous and his early air shot with a forward bearing down on him was indicative of his tentative beginning. Fortunately he was able to recover before the situation became any more embarrassing. In an undistinguished first half, notable for its misplaced passes and lack of chances, the referee, Mr Foley started to become the dominant character.
First he booked Chris Hussey after the Dons left back had gently nudged Cooper into touch and then, inexplicably, cautioned Danny Kedwell after the striker capitalised on some indecision in the Newport box, muscled his way past Vickers and was then hauled to the ground by the former Dagenham defender. What seemed to everyone else in the ground a sure-fire penalty, Mr Foley gave County a free kick and yellow-carded the mystified Kedwell.
Thankfully Kedwell got his revenge on 23 minutes when he volleyed home Hussey’s superbly executed corner. The goal seemed to spur the Dons on and a second goal, rather than a Newport equaliser, seemed more likely. Sixteen minutes later, it came. Davis’s throughball split the visitors defence and Kedwell strode purposefully onto it, rounded Thompson and slid the ball calmly into the net for 2-0.
Terry Brown’s half-time team talk was, one would imagine, probably not all that difficult or long. More of the same and the Dons would collect all three points against a side that were unbeaten in their last six away games. That it took 25 minutes for the Dons to put the game to bed was due to a combination of a misplaced final ball, profligate finishing or last-ditch defending.
An incident on the half-way line involving Elliott Godfrey seemed to energise the previously quiet Godfrey into putting in a superb 30 minute, all-action shift that effectively ended Newport’s hopes of a comeback. His timely intervention in a congested midfield freed Dwane Lee who set Kedwell free down the right. He advanced into the box and squared it for Jon Main and the Dons fans were preparing to celebrate. However, Main’s shot was saved by the advancing Thompson but Tom Davis reacted first, collected the loose ball and sent in a perfect cross for Main to head the killer third.
Chances then seemed to come thick and fast for the Dons but Kedwell shot wide when brilliantly set up by Godfrey and then the same player denied himself a richly deserved hat-trick when he headed over an Adjei cross from 10 yards, having earlier shot horribly wide when one on one with the keeper and with Main screaming for a pass.
The Dons saw the game out quite comfortably in the end and only their fourth clean sheet of the season was a more than welcome by-product of a good afternoon’s work.
Dean Holdsworth didn’t enjoy the most welcome of receptions, thanks to his links to the MK Dons, but he’ll be more worried by his side barely making a chance all afternoon and the fact that had the Dons been that little bit more ruthless, his side could have been heading back to Wales after a six or seven goal drubbing.