A brace from Crewe Alexandra’s leading goalscorer Mathias Pogba sealed three superb points against Karl Robinson MK Dons. Crewe had to come from behind as well after Patrick Bamford had given the Dons a 31st minute lead. Pogba headed the Railwaymen level nine minutes later, before slotting home a winner with seven minutes remaining after his first effort had been saved by Ian McLoughlin.
The MK Dons certainly had enough chances in the game to certainly have left South Cheshire with something after hitting the woodwork on three occasions, but their frustrating night was compounded with a second yellow card for Anthony Kay in the dying minutes.
Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis made a couple of changes to his side with Max Clayton away on International duty with England Under-19s and Byron Moore unable to shake off a dead leg obtained in the 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury on Saturday. That meant Davis handing full debuts to new signing Nathan Ellington and Academy graduate Ryan Colclough.
The MK Dons named the former Crewe players Jon Otsemobor and Ryan Lowe in their starting line-up but named only four substitutes, including the former England International Alan Smith.
Colclough nearly marked his full debut at senior level with a great early strike that McLoughlin did well to push around for a first minute corner. Minutes later, a fine burst from left back Gregor Robertson saw the defender in a good position to shoot, but he elected instead to try and find AJ Leitch-Smith with a pass and the chance came to nothing.
MK Dons slowly grew into their stride and after having a penalty appeal turned down for an apparent handball by Mark Ellis, Darren Potter shot just wide from a short corner. Lowe was his usually lively self with his movement.
Both sides tried to get the ball down and play on a difficult surface but some brute force from Abdul Osman on the edge of the MK Dons penalty area saw Mathias Pogba shoot over the top of the crossbar.
Just after the half an hour mark, the MK Dons took the lead after their best period of possession. Murphy tried to play out of the back towards the forwards, but his pass was cut out by Shaun Williams and he found Lowe in enough space for him to pick out a splendid cross and Bamford stole in to guide a header into the far corner.
Crewe could and should have perhaps slipped further behind just a couple of minutes later, as three MK Dons players had a go at Steve Phillips’ goal. Harry Davis did superbly to get a Lowe shot from the line. Lowe also had another effort on the turn but he couldn’t keep his shot down enough to trouble Phillips.
Mark Ellis went as close as you can without actually scoring when his brave header from a corner was headed from the goal line. Colclough, 18, who was lively and tricky with his swift turns and acceleration shot over the crossbar from the rebound. Ellis needed a period of treatment after landing on his shoulder, but he soon re-joined the play.
Crewe were beginning to get back into the contest as Ellington forced McLoughlin into another smart save. The goalkeeper had to push his effort from 25 yards away for a corner. Robertson’s first delivery was poor but he was given another opportunity to swing in a cross and this time it was inch perfect for Pogba to head home at the far post on 40 minutes.
The Alex finished the first half arguably on top in terms of chances and a late surge from Ellington should have seen him release either Colclough or Leitch-Smith into space in wide areas. The half ended with a fine move involving captain Murphy and Leitch-Smith at a well worked free-kick.
Leitch-Smith held up play on the edge of the MK Dons box to wait for the run for Murphy and he was unlucky to see his effort poked just wide. It only needed a touch.
The MK Dons started the second half by hitting both posts from the boot of Chris Lines and then Lowe in the follow up and it looked as though it was going to be one of those nights for the Dons in front of goal.
A lively second half saw Murphy penalised for a foul when he perhaps should have been awarded a penalty himself and Ellington thumped a free-kick into the Dons wall.
Move good play from the Alex saw Pogba causing havoc again and his ball into Colclough was quickly played wide to Ellington, but he didn’t catch his shot as good as he would have liked and it was straight at McLoughlin.
The only downside of the night saw Murphy limp off with what appeared a knock on his foot and he was replaced by Ollie Turton on the hour.
Crewe began to pile on some pressure from corners. Ellis won one but Colclough couldn’t quite control his shot on the turn. The youngster certainly made a bright impression on his full debut for the club.
The MK Dons made a change with Dean Bowditch replacing George Baldock. Davis was then booked for a foul on Bamford before Izale McLeod came on for Lowe.
Bamford soon played a brilliant pass across the box towards McLeod but the substitute didn’t react as quickly as he might have done and in a flash it was past him. If he had been on longer, he would have perhaps produced the touch it would have needed to put the Dons back in front.
A cross from Mellor was cut out by Williams just as Ellington was about to touch home. It would be his last contribution as a tiring Ellington was replaced for Aneke.
Into the action quickly, Aneke nearly found AJ Leitch-Smith after battling his through a couple of challenges.
MK Dons went close to taking the lead when Williams clipped the crossbar with a splendid free-kick. He was very unlucky and that miss seemed to inspire more attacking play from Crewe. Pogba had a deflected effort wide, before Anthony Kay collected the first of his bookings for a pull back on the Crewe match winner.
Pogba was proving a handful all evening and when he bustled his way onto a through ball from Aneke with seven minutes remaining you though it would be his night to score again. He held off the intentions of Williams and after his first effort was saved, he was composed enough to slot home the rebound into the empty net.
With time running out for the MK Dons, Leitch-Smith made way for the more defensive Tootle and the visitors replaced Otsemobor with Alan Smith.
With their frustration getting the better of them the Dons lost Kay to a second yellow card after he crashed into Tootle on the touchline. Crewe cruised to victory in the remaining minutes with Phillips not called into action again.