MATCH REPORT: MK Dons 0, Sheffield United 3

They provided Sheffield United with a guard of honour but, more importantly, MK Dons failed to prevent the runaway League One champions edging a step closer to the magical 100 point mark.
MK Dons v BladesMK Dons v Blades
MK Dons v Blades

Chris Wilder's squad will enter next weekend's final match of the campaign 14 clear of second-placed Bolton Wanderers and only three shy of that magic number following this emphatic victory in Buckinghamshire.

It was another commanding performance from a team which has bludgeoned the division into submission and, despite having only pride to play for, continues to churn out results.

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Leon Clarke, scoring his sixth goal in only five games, was responsible for breaking the deadlock. But Billy Sharp will dominate the headlines after hitting the back for the 200th time since turning professional 12 seasons ago.

United's captain and, a lifelong supporter of the club, poster boy for the Class of 2016/17; Sharp has been a driving force behind their achievements this term. So, after taking advantage of a Dons slip to thrash home, he wheeled away to celebrate with the 7,000 plus away fans massed behind Lee Nicholls' net.

Robbie Neilson's side are certainly no mugs. But, from that moment on, they were made to look ordinary by a group of players who appear more than equipped to compete a division above.

Clarke has spent nearly three-quarters of the season battling injury rather than defenders. But, since recovering from the ankle problem which prompted some to question his involvement, the 32-year-old has proved both his quality and worth.

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Although the effort which set United on course for their sixth successive victory looked relatively simple - heading home unmarked from John Fleck's corner - it was only because of Clarke's footballing intelligence. A short, sharp run towards the near post confused the Dons' backline and, when he quickly retraced his steps, ensured there was no one close enough to prevent him making a clean connection with the ball.

Sharp's landmark moment came after a lapse at the back. Although Neilson will have concerns about the concentration - or lack of it - which presented the striker with that chance, he must have been tempted to applaued the finish. Likewise when Sharp scored his second of the afternoon with 10 minutes remaining to hammer home United's advantage.

Another classy conversion from a marksman with the golden touch.

Wilder, speaking before this game, had indicated he was prepared to utilise his squad during United's remaining two games. There was a touch of sentiment about the move, with Stefan Scougall named on the bench following a long absence from the 49-year-old's matchday squads. But, when Ethan Ebanks-Landell suffered a hamstring problem during the warm-up, sporting necessity too.

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James Wilson, the on-loan centre-half's replacement, was drafted-in for his first appearance since October and made an immediate impact by stopping Kieran Agard's dangerous run in its tracks. Moments earlier though, in the ninth minute, only the width of Nicholls' right hand post had temporarily prevented Sharp from celebrating his 200th career goal. Chris Basham, dancing past two defenders after combining with Kieron Freeman, was the architect of the opportunity.

Daniel Lafferty and Jack O'Connell also went close, the latter testing Nicholl's handling from long distance. But, as the half progressed, so Dons began to discover their rhythm. United still carried the greater threat but survived a scare when, in the 24th minute, Dean Lewington's looping shot bounced back off the woodwork.

Wilson, despite his lack of action this season, did not look out of place. Indeed, with the excellent Basham and O'Connell alongside him, the former Oldham Athletic man was instrumental in keeping Neilson's men at arms-length.

Stuart O'Keefe, after Clarke had threatened to dart through, tried his luck with an instinctive attempt from the edge of the box. But Dons, until Moore denied Harvey Barnes soon after the interval, found it difficult to plot a course through United's rearguard. The visitors had no such problem at the other end when Freeman won a corner, Fleck took it and Clarke beat Nicholls.

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Dons thought they had equalised when Barnes barged his way through only to see Moore claw the ball away to safety in the 49th minute. Less than 120 seconds later, Clarke could have strengthened United's grip on the contest but his low shot from the edge of the penalty area flew just wide.

Instead that honour fell to Sharp who smashed the ball beyond Nicholls just past the hour before converting again, with 10 minutes remaining, after being sent scampering through by Paul Coutts.

MK Dons: Nicholls (Martin 90), Baldock, Lewington, Walsh, Upson, Potter (Thomas-Asante 73), O'Keefe, Williams, Agard, Muirhead (Reeves 86), Barnes. Not used: Martin, Rasulo, Brittain, Downing, Tilney.

Sheffield United: Moore, Basham, Wilson (Done 62), O'Connell, Freeman (Chapman 87), Lafferty, Coutts, Fleck, Duffy (Carruthers 56), Clarke, Sharp. Not used: Long, McNulty, Scougall.

Referee: John Brooks (Leicestershire).