MK Dons 0 Charlton 1 (Lookman 38).
Kevin Nolan reports from Stadium UK.
It was a long time coming but Karl Robinson finally got off the mark with a win over his recent employers. A bit tardy to be put down to new manager's bounce but better late than never. And the big Scouser's pleasure will be enhanced by the excellence of Ademola Lookman's 38th minute matchwinner, a gem dramatically out of place in this drab context.
Spotting Lookman on the move behind MKD's startled rearguard, Andrew Crofts launched a howitzer of a 30-yard pass which cleared the straining head of Joe Walsh. Lookman's first touch was a whisker too heavy but his momentum and natural speed combined to correct the fleeting error. A cleverly clipped finish eluded David Martin's right hand before nestling sweetly inside the left hand post. It was a goal fashioned by an often unfairly maligned veteran and executed by a youngster to whom all things are possible. It might also be the last scored by Lookman in Charlton's colours.
To be honest -and when are we anything but honest - the Addicks rarely threatened to increase their lead until Nicky Ajose was denied by Martin's legs with just six minutes of this forgettable game remaining. But they defended resolutely with that mulish commitment to play out from the back now mercifully abandoned in favour of pragmatism; though the Buckinghamshire franchise held an edge in possession, the visitors, in the modern parlance, kept risk to a minimum while managing the game competently. It wasn't pretty but the result was everything. As results always are.
There were occasional chances for the labouring hosts, the earliest and best of them created by Sami Carruthers for Nicky Maynard, who dragged his shot wastefully wide. During a dominant opening spell, Dean Bowditch failed to apply a decisive touch to Ben Reeves' low cross at the far post, then Dillon Phillips blocked Carruthers' shot and capably fielded Reeves' follow-up header. Busy Bowditch finished off a hectic fusillade of blocked shots by driving dangerously over the before departing prematurely, unlamented by the Addicks, before the interval.
There wasn't much going on at the other end, meanwhile, although neat interpassing between Josh Magennis and Fredrik Ulvestad made an opening for the former to shoot straight at Martin but until Lookman struck against the run of play. the Addicks were preoccupied with effectiveness at the expense of entertainment.
In central midfield, the revitalised Crofts was a combative influence, as indeed he was last week at Millwall ( I know we agreed not to mention Millwall but they're proving difficult to get over), with Ulvestad's constructive passing providing a useful outlet alongside him. Behind them, Ezri Konsa had his hands full with the tricky Reeves but gradually solved the conundrum; centre backs Jorge Texeira and Patrick Bauer were obdurate stoppers; Morgan Fox stuck to his guns stoutly. Even Roger Johnson popped up as Ajose's replacement in added time to trigger his usual, kneejerk abuse and contributed a couple of handy clearances, much to the chagrin of his enemies.
A dreary second half began with Reeves, set up from the right byline by Maynard, awkwardly dragging wide from near the penalty spot but MKD's efforts were sporadic and increasingly born of frustration. Had Ajose made more of the chance he drove against Martin's legs after confusion involving the keeper and a hesitant colleague, late anxiety, such as it was, would have been avoided. But a win is a win and there haven't been many of them - only six prior to Boxing Day - to celebrate. Now it's off to the seaside on New Years's Eve for a daunting buckets-and-spades clash with Southend United, currently League One's form team. Nice way to round off the Old Year and chalk up a good result building up to the return contest with our mates from SE 16. See what I did there - I neatly avoided mentioning Millwall.
MK Dons: Martin, George B. Williams, Walsh, Upson, Lewington, Downing, Carruthers (Powell 80), Reeves, Agard (Aneke 86), Maynard, Bowditch (George C. Williams 35). Not used: Nicholls, Hendry, Furlong, Tshimanga. Booked: Carruthers, Walsh.
Charlton: Phillips, Konsa, Bauer, Texeira, Fox, Lookman (Chicksen 87), Jackson (Aribo 56), Crofts, Ulvestad, Ajose (Johnson 90), Magennis. Not used: Mitov, Foley, Botaka, Ahearne-Grant. Booked: Lookman.
Referee: Christopher Sarginson.
Att: 10,257 (928 visiting).