MK Dons midfielder Dele Alli showed why a host of top clubs have declared an interest in him by celebrating the signing of his new contract with a match-winning hat-trick against Crewe Alexandra. The highly-rated teenager opened the scoring within two minutes and then gave his side breathing space inside two minutes of the second half with a smartly taken headed second goal. He went home with the match ball after smashing home a third on 83 minutes.
Karl Robinson’s MK Dons side demonstrated why they are to be considered serious promotion contenders with an impressive all-round performance that saw them control much of the possession and carve out a host of opportunities that made it a busy afternoon for Ben Garratt. It would eventually end 6-1 at Stadium: mk with Crewe Alexandra finding it difficult to live with arguably the best footballing side in the division. Striker Will Grigg and his later replacement Benik Afobe scored the others for the Dons before Ben Reeves added a sixth goal in the 89th minute.
Three goals in the opening 16 minutes set the tone at Stadium:mk. The home side took the lead within two minutes with Alli slotting past a helpless Garratt before Crewe struck back just four minutes later with the MK Dons defender Kyle McFazdean heading past his own goalkeeper David Martin for a bizarre equaliser.
Karl Robinson’s side then re-took the lead on 16 minutes via a corner with Will Grigg heading home a Ben Reeves cross.
Reeves was the provider again for the MK Dons’ third goal when his far post delivery was headed home by the impressive Alli two minutes into the second half and Afobe killed off any hopes of a late Crewe revival with a fourth goal after he raced clear before two goals in the final ten minutes from chief tormentors Alli and Reeves inflicted the biggest defeat of Steve Davis' Alex career on his 150th game.
Following the mid-week trip to Yeovil, midfielder Oliver Turton was rested for the trip to Milton Keynes with a fit-again Jamie Ness returning to the starting line-up. The on-loan Stoke City midfielder made his first appearance since suffering a hamstring strain at Swindon.
Adam Dugdale was ruled out with illness, so Thierry Audel was granted another chance to impress at the heart of the Crewe Alexandra defence following his first start for a year in Somerset.
Youngsters George Cooper and James Jones were named on the substitutes’ bench, alongside new loan signing Febian Brandy. The winger signed on emergency loan from Rotherham in the week.
After forcing a corner after just 16 seconds of play, Crewe found themselves behind after just two minutes. Audel had done well initially to regain possession close to the Crewe penalty area, but instead of clearing his lines accordingly the Frenchman tried to play the ball into midfield and Darren Potter seized on the loose ball and instantly fed teenager Dele Alli. The highly-rated midfielder kept his composure to slide it across Ben Garratt and into the bottom right hand corner.
Moments later, Ben Reeves shot straight at Garratt from a decent position inside the penalty area and Crewe needed to regroup following that early set-back. The Railwaymen did exactly that and hit back in the 6th minute. Captain Matt Tootle made inroads down the right hand side and his cross was inadvertently headed backwards by the MK Dons centre-half Kyle McFadzean and over his own goalkeeper David Martin for a gift of an own goal.
It was an amazing start to the game and with both sides looking to create openings, the advanced Audel then headed downwards to force Martin into a save.
After Darren Powell had tricked his way past Jon Guthrie on the left hand, his dangerous, low cross thankfully evaded everyone as it flashed across the six-yard box and out for a throw-in. Moments later some indecision inside the Crewe defence forced Audel to poke it only just behind for a corner. It would prove costly as Reeves’ corner was headed home by Will Grigg inside a crowded penalty area after 16 minutes.
After getting themselves back on level terms, Crewe had surrendered a goal from a straight forward set-play, which would only annoy boss Steve Davis with the height he had named in his side.
On 24 minutes, another strong run from Alli at the heart of the Alex rearguard, allowed him to find Grigg but after getting his shot off just ahead of George Ray, he was denied a second goal by a very smart save from the busier Garratt.
A promising move involving Oliver and Waters presented Marcus Haber with a half chance but the big Canadian International couldn’t quite generate enough power from his shot on the turn.
Just before the half an hour mark, the MK Dons went close to adding a third. More good work from Reeves found Grigg and his clever flick from the low cross looped up to hit the Crewe woodwork. The Alex were struggling to contain a confident MK Dons side with Dean Bowditch also going close to stretching their advantage before Ray did fantastically well to get one off the line with Grigg waiting for a tap in.
The pressure continued from the home side and Reeves was awfully close with a superb curling effort that had Garratt scrambling across his goal. Some of MK Dons’ football was extremely pleasing on the eye, with their two full-backs eager to push on and provide numerous crosses into the Crewe penalty area.
Crewe were trying to steal possession when we could and allow Haber and Oliver to get hold of it to move us up the pitch. Our best opportunities stemmed from our own crosses going or from a set-play. Ray won a header at the far post but was too far out to trouble Martin.
The Alex needed the half time whistle and Garratt was forced into another save in stoppage time after a rare mistake from him. His poor clearance went straight to Reeves and his forceful run saw him reach the by-line and cut it back for Grigg but Garratt got down to make the stop and Jon Guthrie was on hand to complete the clearance. The Alex were relived to go into the dressing room with only the one goal dividing the two teams.
That all changed though within two minutes of the second half. The MK Dons once again began where they had left off and after some interchanging of passing around our box, Reeves’ accurate cross to the far post invited Alli to head powerfully past Garratt for his second goal of the afternoon.
Powell then raced on to a mistake by Ness to drill a low shot that thumped the Crewe post.
With the MK Dons searching to get in behind us again, Ray was booked for a trip on Grigg before Steve Davis made a double substitution on 56 minutes. There was a debut for Brandy in place of Waters and Ness made way for Turton.
Grant did well to head from the line after Potter had cleverly flicked on a corner at the near post. MK Dons made a change of their own with Grigg departing for Benik Afobe.
Brandy’s first contribution saw him spin on a six pence and feed fellow sub Turton, who was tripped 20 yards from goal. Brandy’s took the resultant free-kick and his dipping effort had to be tipped over by Martin.
At the other end, Akobe showed great strength up against Audel and his lay off saw Bowditch to get a shot off that was well held by Garratt.
On 67 minutes, the lively Brandy found Audel with a superb cross and the defender’s technical half volley had to be pushed away by an alert Martin. It was a wonderful effort that could have given us a passage back into the contest.
As it was, the MK Dons made sure they sealed the points a couple of minutes later. Potter’s simple, lofted pass from deep went straight through the Crewe rearguard to find Afobe and he held off the intentions of the retreating Audel to slot if past Garratt for 4-1.
With 15 minutes remaining on the clock, Jordan Spence replaced Baldock before McFazdean tried to get on the act with a low shot that was well again by Garratt. Reeves, who had impressed throughout flashed another effort wide.
Steve Davis handed 17-year-old George Cooper his league debut with just over 10 minutes left. The winger replaced Oliver. There was also an outing for our former loan player Tom Hitchcock, who replaced Bowditch.
After the hard working Grant had flashed a shot wide, Alli completed his hat-trick on 83 minutes. Hitchcock created it with a clever back heal and Alli again showed his power by riding a tackle and smashing a shot past Garratt.
Hitchcock was also involved in the sixth goal as a superb triangle of passes allowed Reeves to race onto the ball inside the penalty area to get a goal his solo performance deserved on the day. It could have even been seven but Powell scooped a late shot straight into the gloves of Garratt after he had shown great pace to race clear again.