Mon 28 Dec 15
at 16:50 PM
Report: Blues 1 MK Dons 0
A brilliant individual strike from Jacques Maghoma – the winger’s first goal at St. Andrew’s – sealed maximum points after an exhilarating display against the Dons.
The 28-year-old had the visiting defence tied up in knots as he moved this way and that before dropping his shoulder and creating the space for a shot that he fired emphatically past David Martin.
The match-winning moment came just after the hour mark and it was the very least that Blues deserved for a thrilling performance in which they kept MK on the back foot for long periods.
Gary Rowett’s men created many more chances, including twice hitting the woodwork, but in the end one goal was enough to send the biggest St. Andrew’s crowd of the season home happy.
Viv Solomon-Otabor came in for his starting debut as one of four changes to the side that faced Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day and put in a bright display.
The fit-again duo of Clayton Donaldson and Paul Robinson were recalled for the first time since suffering injuries in early November, whilst Stephen Gleeson was well enough to return against his former club after illness kept him out at Hillsborough.
The hosts made a promising start to proceedings and kept the visitors encamped inside their own half during the opening minutes. A terrific out-swinging cross from Paul Caddis found Donaldson inside the area but the big man had crept slightly offside.
Solomon-Otabor caused the Dons early problems and one probing run from the teenager almost set up a chance for Donaldson, but Joe Walsh made a vital interception.
Blues continued to look dangerous and from another assault into the penalty area by Maghoma, the ball bounced around on the edge of the six-yard box but no one was able to apply the crucial touch.
The hosts created the first-half's best opening on 12 minutes. Toral ventured forward through the centre of the park before playing the ball nicely into the path of Gleeson on the left of the area but the Irishman’s shot veered narrowly wide of the far post.
The visitors responded with a breakaway attack which ended with Samir Carruthers’ shot from 25 yards bouncing harmlessly wide.
Toral and Donaldson were in the thick of the action again soon afterwards as the Spaniard’s clever chip was chested down by Blues’ top scorer but he was hounded out by three Dons defenders and his eventual effort was blocked.
The pace of Solomon-Otabor created a good free-kick chance on 17 minutes as he was pushed over just outside the right side of the area, Toral’s subsequent curling effort was tipped over by Martin in the Dons’ goal.
Donaldson’s outside-of-the-boot shot that was easily saved by Martin from Jonathan Grounds’ deflected cross before the visitors made their first notable goal-scoring effort.
Daniel Powell’s shot was parried away by Tomasz Kusczcak and Sam Gallagher looked perfectly placed to tuck home the rebound but Robinson came to the rescue with a brave goal-saving lunge.
Blues were soon back on the attack as Donaldson’s clever knock-down to Toral saw the Arsenal loanee split the visitors’ defence with a terrific ball to Maghoma on the left and the winger fired in a low shot that was turned around the post by Martin.
Gleeson’s well-directed corner then drifted across the area to Grounds but the left-back’s half-volley was blocked by Lewington.
The home side were denied what seemed a stonewall penalty on 37 minutes when Solomon-Otabor’s cross clearly struck the held up hand of Lewington, but no decision was forthcoming, to the disbelief of Blues players and management alike.
Donaldson couldn’t connect to Toral’s low ball into the area as Blues maintained the pressure during the closing stages of the half.
Within the opening two minutes of the second-half it was the visitors appealing for a penalty after sub Josh Murphy went down under a challenge from Michael Morrison but the official was unmoved.
The direct and purposeful running of Solomon-Otabor won his side two early corners after the interval but Blues were unable to take advantage of those set-piece opportunities.
The hosts passed up a golden opportunity on 56 minutes when Toral’s cross-shot dropped perfectly to the feet of Donaldson only 10 yards out.
Blues’ number nine seemed to have done everything right as he brought the ball under control and composed himself, but he went for power rather than placement to beat Martin and the ball crashed off the bar.
The chances kept on coming as Maghoma raced in behind the visitors’ defence but whilst he waited for the ball to come down, Kyle McFadzean was able to make the interception.
The former Sheffield Wednesday man was to get another opportunity not long after that, one he took with aplomb.
Maghoma collected Toral’s lay-off and weaved his way into the area. It appeared he had done too much as he turned this way and that to try and create a shooting chance, with Toral screaming for the return pass.
But one final twist made the room and the winger blasted an unstoppable shot with his left foot into the roof of the net.
Karl Robinson’s side threatened a response as Murphy was brought down just outside the area on the left by Robinson, who earned a yellow card for his actions, but Carruther’s free-kick was easily saved by Kuszczak.
Solomon-Otabor left the action to a well deserved ovation to be replaced by Gray on 80 minutes and Toral also departed soon afterwards, with David Davis coming on.
The two subs were involved in a breakaway move that almost brought about a decisive second goal three minutes into injury-time.
Davis won the ball wide on the left and his delightful chip bounced in front of Donaldson, who eventually bustled his marker off the ball and teed up the on-rushing Gray, but the England Under-21 international’s shot crashed off the post.
A wayward header from Nicky Maynard was the closest the visitors came to getting back on level terms but the home defence never truly looked troubled.
A thoroughly satisfying afternoon all round that takes Blues up one place to ninth and only point adrift of the play-off places ahead of another home encounter against Brentford this Saturday.