MK Dons 0-2 Huddersfield Town: Rhodes & Hunt put Terriers on course for League One play-off final

Simon Grayson's men are on the verge of another visit to Wembley after overcoming a relatively flat Dons' performance at the Stadium MK to take a two-goal lead into the second leg
Huddersfield Town have one foot in the League One play-off final after a 2-0 first leg semi-final win away to MK Dons.

Simon Grayson's men were good value for their two-goal lead as MK Dons rarely posed a serious threat to Huddersfield during the game. The visitors simply waited for the chance to pick the opposition apart on the counter-attack.

A first-half glancing header from the prolific Jordan Rhodes gave the visitors the early advantage and the Terriers looked to have put the tie beyond Karl Robinson's team with a goal from Jack Hunt midway through the second half.

MK Dons manager Robinson made one change to the side that played in the final league match against Walsall with Gary MacKenzie brought in for Tom Flanagan at centre-half. Mathias Kouo-Doumbe was back in the squad after recovering from a groin strain.

As expected for Huddersfield the prolific Jordan Rhodes returned to the starting line-up after being rested for Huddersfield’s final league game against Yeovil Town, replacing Kallum Higginbotham.

The game enjoyed a frenetic opening 10 minutes with both sides looking for an early goal but neither managing to put together a sustained period of possession.

Grayson was forced into a change just before the half hour with Scott Arfield being replaced by Higginbotham. Surprisingly the substitution made a positive impact as Higginbotham’s pace and direct approach put the visitors on the front foot.

Huddersfield seemed content to allow MK Dons possession of the ball in their own half with the knowledge they could hurt the home side on the counterattack.

On 32 minutes that is exactly what happened, when after winning the ball in the Dons’ half Rhodes worked some space in the box and set up Higginbotham for the shot which was well saved by David Martin.

Moments later, before the Dons could clear Huddersfield found the breakthrough when Lee Novak swung the ball back into the box and Rhodes got across his defender and expertly glanced his header into the back post for his 38th goal of the season.

Grayson’s game plan worked perfectly as MK Dons had to resort to long balls which the Huddersfield defence dealt with comfortably.

MK Dons nearly had the perfect start to the second half when the ball landed perfectly for Dean Lewington in the box from a free-kick but he unfortunately snatched at the chance with his weaker foot allowing Ian Bennett to make the save.

MK Dons looked far more dangerous after the break and had another chance to equalise on 50 minutes.  Firstly Peter Clarke was forced to make an excellent tackle on Dean Bowditch before Bennett threw himself at the ball to cut out a cross by Powell.

After a spell of threatening play from the Dons at the beginning of the second half the match slowly returned to the way it played out in the first half with the visitors waiting for a chance to catch the Robinson’s men on the break.

In the 65th minute it nearly happened again when Rhodes turned provider to Novak this time, flicking a header on to send Novak through on goal but the wide man dragged his shot across goal and wide of the far post.

But MK Dons relief was short-lived, seven minutes later they were caught short at the back again with the chance this time falling to Hunt who emphatically slammed his shot past Martin after being set up by a clever pass from the first half substitute Higginbotham.

Robinson directed his fustration at the officials after he felt Novak went off injured and then rejoined the action too quickly, playing a part in the build-up to Huddersfield's second.

The hosts had one final chance to give themselves a crucial goal in the 96th minute when Chiksen picked out Ibehre in the box for a close-range header but the 40-year-old Bennett pulled off a key save to maintain the Terriers' two goal advantage going into the second leg.