MK Dons 1-0 Reading: Late Walsh goal seals MK Dons win
Last Updated: 16/01/16 7:12pm
Joe Walsh scored his first goal for MK Dons as the Sky Bet Championship strugglers bounced back from a midweek hammering to record a 1-0 win at home to Reading.
Walsh's superb volley deep into the second-half earned the Dons their first win of 2016 as the Royals' winless run now stretches to three games under new boss Brian McDermott.
The visitors started brightly and began advancing in the final third through winger Gareth McCleary, who had the pace and power to beat Dons captain Dean Lewington with ease on the right wing, but he could not quite find the right final ball.
The home side responded well though, as Nicky Maynard outmuscled Anton Ferdinand in the visitors' six-yard box to meet Rob Hall's cross from the right with an acute header towards goal, but keeper Ali Al-Habsi was equal to it.
McCleary was denied an opener for the Royals inside the 20th minute as Oliver Norwood burst forward with the ball before floating a deep cross into the Dons' box, which keeper David Martin failed to deal with as it fell to the feet of McCleary, whose effort on goal was superbly blocked by Lewington.
Martin was called into action again 10 minutes later in the hosts' goal as a poor headed clearance from the Dons fell to Reading's Lucas Piazon on the edge of the area, whose fizzing strike forced Martin into a testing save.
And Reading should have taken the lead five minutes before the break as McCleary burst forward from a Dons attack, eased past the final two MK defenders before laying-off Matej Vydra in the six-yard box before watching his close-range effort somehow roll wide.
McDermott's side started from where they left off in the opening exchanges of the second-half as Vydra did well to get the ball under control on the edge of the MK Dons area, before laying-off the onrushing Norwood, whose excellent half-volley was pushed out for a corner by Dons keeper Martin.
The Royals went close again on the stroke of the hour when Anton Ferdinand's hopeful long-ball sailed through to Piazon in the final third, before his deflected shot rolled into the path of McCleary in the box, but his effort was again well-saved.
The visitors felt aggrieved six minutes later when Vydra was sent through clear on goal before MK defender Kyle McFadzean's clumsy last-ditch challenge brought the former Watford man down and he was only given a yellow card.
And as both sides looked happy to come away with a point each, the Dons took the lead through a superb goal from defender Walsh as the game approached the final 10 minutes.
Rob Hall's fizzing corner was only half-cleared as the ball bounced mid-air between challenges before Walsh popped-up inside the six-yard box to smash the ball home on the volley.