CITY 2 MK Dons 0

VALLEY Parade was the stage for the MK Dons’ first promotion party of their 15-year existence.

But almost ten years to the day since Paul Ince and Co galivanted on the pitch after clinching the League Two title, defeat last night left them teetering on the brink of a return to the basement.

Other results spared them the official guillotine but it is likely to happen this weekend.

Whatever he opts to do at City, and talks with chairman Edin Rahic are scheduled imminently, Simon Grayson’s decision to turn down the offer from MK Dons owner Pete Winkelman to take their job in January looks a wise one.

At least it has spared the Bantams boss the embarrassment of seeing two clubs relegated in the same season.

Grayson’s current side extended their post-Blackpool unbeaten run to four games and eight points – and also made it back-to-back home wins for the first time since September.

The soggy surface wasn’t designed for any sort of post-match exuberance – but City are heading towards the finish line with a spring in their step, which is all that Grayson asked for following his damning comments at Bloomfield Road.

With two more home games to come in quick succession, the opportunity is there to continue that upward momentum.

Now the question remains whether Grayson will still be at the helm to take that late progress into next season.

Last night’s victory also maintained the Bantams’ Indian sign over the Dons.

Since their title-winning triumph in West Yorkshire in 2008, MK have won just once in 10 meetings. This was City’s eighth win in that time.

The smattering of just 111 travelling fans suggested they had already given up the ghost. They did include one lone trumpeter, who could have been forgiven for launching into the Last Post at the final whistle.

On the back of four straight defeats, rookie Dan Micciche’s three-month managerial reign came to a sudden halt on Sunday.

So experienced coach Keith Millen took temporary charge of the Dons for their do-or-die visit.

But after a decent first half, they faded and appeared to accept their fate.

The wet weather bore similarities to the aborted attempt to play the game six weeks earlier.

It had rained solidly since lunchtime – and the pitch was taking another battering. You wonder if ref Ben Toner would have taken a closer look if it had not been so late in the season.

City were boosted by the return of midfielder Callum Guy, whose energy and enthusiasm had continued to catch the eye even during the long slump.

He never stopped running once again even in such sapping conditions.

The visitors set the early pace and the woodwork saved the Bantams on seven minutes. Chuks Aneke’s header from a Dons corner thumped the bar before Colin Doyle saved Ed Upson’s follow-up.

But it was City who struck first five minutes later from their opening corner after Guy’s shot had been deflected past the post.

With the Dons defence in disarray, Tony McMahon’s cross was nodded down at the far post by Timothee Dieng and Charlie Wyke was there as the ball was scrambled over the line.

The Frenchman, who had lost a goal to the striker against Bury in February on review, wheeled away determinedly claiming this one – his first for four months.

It was a killer blow for the Dons and highlighted why they are in such a desperate situation.

But they looked useful going forward and Marcus Tavernier defied the pitch to spin nimbly on Ike Ugbo’s flick before firing past the post with Doyle beaten.

The contest was predictably open given the high stakes the away side were playing for and Stephen Warnock supplied Matty Lund for a curler just off target.

Keeper Wieger Sietsma then denied Kai Bruenker a first goal in England with a stunning tip-over after the German’s volley into the ground looked to be sneaking in under the bar – leaving the German beating the floor in frustration.

There was a welcome air of positivity about City’s play – Warnock looked like a teenager rather than a 36-year-old less than a fortnight away from retirement as the left back popped up here, there and everywhere.

The clock was ticking for the Dons as the rain grew heavier and Doyle held on well to Josh Tymon’s testing attempt from the corner of the box.

But Bruenker had another chance to break his duck ten minutes in, only to try too hard and wildly lash into the Kop after Guy’s break had teed him up.

Aneke flashed a header wide for the Dons but the game had lost its way since the break and the Kop indulged themselves in a private sing-song.

Nicky Law, who lifted City at Rochdale when he came off the bench, got another 20-minute cameo for Lund as the hosts looked for a second goal to kill it off.

City were picking up the pace again and it soon arrived with another assist for skipper McMahon.

His deep free-kick into the mixer was not claimed by the unconvincing Sietsma under pressure from Wyke and Nathaniel Knight-Percival – and the centre half gleefully lashed in his second goal in a week.

McMahon almost piled on the agony with one for himself as his free-kick bounced off the bar before Wyke’s follow-up was scrambled away in front the line.

City’s top scorer went close again with a looping effort in stoppage time.

But it was an ultimately comfortable victory against opponents who can see the trapdoor opening.

Given the record against MK Dons in recent years, it will be a shame to lose them.


CITY: Doyle 6, McMahon 7, Knight-Percival 7, Kilgallon 7, Warnock 8, Gilliead 7 (McCartan 90min), Dieng 7, Guy 8, Lund 6 (Law 70min), Bruenker 6 (Poleon 88min), Wyke 7. Subs (not used): Chicksen, Vincelot, Patrick, Raeder.

MK DONS: Sietsma 6, Williams 6, Ward 7, Golbourne 6, Brittain 6 (Thomas-Asante 75min), Tavernier 6 (Agard 85min), Cisse 6, Upson 7, Tymon 6, Aneke 7, Ugbo 6 (Muirhead 64min). Subs (not used): Lewington, Wootton, Reo-Coker, Jones.