STRIKES in the final fifteen minutes of the first half from Chris Wood and Charlie Taylor saw Leeds United end a trying week with a relieving victory at MK Dons.
Wood put United in front on 31 minutes from the spot, sending David Martin the wrong way after Carl Baker was penalised for a foul on Taylor, who doubled United’s tally with a excellent strike from distance just before the break.
But United were indebted to underfire keeper Marco Silvestri, who denied the hosts with several fine stops, particularly in the first period - while answering a few critics in the process following his costly gaffe in the midweek loss to Ipswich Town.
MK Dons, who spurned a number of opportunities, eventually pulled one back through substitute Simon Church, who tapped in Josh Murphy’s low cross on the left with 16 minutes remaining.
The hosts soon suffered a blow when midfielder Samir Carruthers was dismissed for a late challenge on Stuart Dallas, but despite their numerical disadvantage, MK pushed for a leveller with Silvestri making a splendid save in the last ten minutes to deny another home replacement in Ben Reeves.
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United survived to claim their second away success on the spin and repair some of the damage following substandard home displays against Brentford and Ipswich.
A thoroughly bizarre half saw MK Dons dominate for large parts, only for Leeds to ride their luck somewhat and manage to conjure an unlikely 2-0 advantage, with a mixture of poor finishing and fine goalkeeping from the under-fire
It was a half in which home midfielder Robert Hall could easily have laid claim to the matchball by notching a hat-trick, with other chances also spurned by MK, with Leeds punishing them with two strikes in the final 15 minutes of the half after a poor opening half-hour.
Wood fired United - backed by almost 6,000 travelling fans - ahead from the spot on 31 minutes after Carl Baker was penalised for fouling Taylor in the box after getting on the wrong side of his opponent following a bucaneering run.
After being the creator, Taylor then turned scorer after weaving past a couple of challenges down the left before unleashing a precision angled strike for his first goal of the campaign.
Silvestri had an extremely busy half and made a super save to tip over Sam Gallagher’s 16th minute effort, but that was surpassed by a stunning stop on 41 minutes to somewhat divert Hall’s point-blank shot onto the post with Gallagher firing the rebound wide.
United then proceeded to go straight up the other end and double their advantage with Taylor’s goal arriving two minutes before the interval.
It was the full-back’s third career goal for United with the other two also coming on the road last season at Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves.
Rosler made three changes to his starting line-up for the clash, with Scott Wootton handed just his second league start of the campaign and first since the 2-2 draw at Bristol City on August 19.
Gaetano Berardi was dropped to the bench, while joint top-scorer Mirco Antenucci made way with Sam Byram restored to the starting XI.
Alex Mowatt was also recalled to the side in place of Tom Adeyemi, with deadline-day signing Jordan Botaka named on the bench by Rosler, seeking a response from his side after questioning their mental strength following Tuesday night’s disappointing 1-0 home reverse to Ipswich.
MK Dons, aiming to avoid a fourth successive defeat for the first time since December 2009, mad two changes with loan duo Gallagher and Josh Murphy coming in for Dean Bowditch and Simon Church.
It was a half in which the hosts, afforded plenty of space in midfield to do their thing, dominated for large parts, but couldn’t find a way past Silvestri.
The opening ten minutes set the tone, with the hosts’ best moment seeing dangerman Hall weave past Sol Bamba before firing wide.
Baker was then allowed to run around forty yards unchecked before supplying Gallagher, whose right-footed shot was tipped over instinctively by Silvestri following a quick-fire counter-attack.
United’s first salvo saw Wood’s 20-yarder comfortably saved by David Martin, before Hall’s curler flew inches wide after more sublime footwork.
Murphy then saw his low angled shot blocked by the legs of Silvestri before United went ahead from the spot, with Wood sending Martin the wrong way after Baker was penalised for felling Taylor after getting on the wrong side of the Leeds full-back.
A key challenge from Wootton denied Murphy before Wood chested over.
Silvestri’s splendid save to deny Hall preserved United’s lead, which was doubled just before the break by Taylor.
Given the psychological blow of trailing 2-0 in half where they created a stack of chances, the character questions all belonged to MK, whose start to the second period was in marked contrast to the first.
It was United who had the best early chance, with Mowatt’s shot blocked by Martin, with Silvestri afforded a more quiet time of it at the other end in the opening 15 minutes of the half.
Gradually, MK built up some momentum again, but again found no way past Silvestri, who made an impressive finger-tip save to deny Diego Poyet, before Murphy saw his shot hit the corner of the goal frame to sum up the hosts’ luckless afternoon.
The hosts gave themselves hope on 74 minutes when Church tapped home before being rocked following Carruthers’ dismissal.
To their credit, the hosts pushed for the leveller, with Leeds forced to dig in, despite having a man advantage.
Silvestri parried a free-kick from Reeves before the MK replacement tested the Italian with another free-kick, with the United custodian making an excellent one-handed save low to his right.
Wood shot into the side-netting as Leeds sought to seal matters and despite pushing for a leveller in six minutes of stoppage time, the hosts couldn’t find a way through with United surviving.
MK Dons: Martin; Spence (Bowditch 73), McFadzean, Kay, Lewington; Poyet, Carruthers; Baker, Hall (Reeves 58), Murphy; Gallagher (Church 58). Substitutes unused: Burns, Hodson, Aguza, Powell.
Leeds United: Silvestri; Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Murphy, Cook, Mowatt (Adeyemi 77), Byram (Antenucci 84), Dallas (Bellusci 94), Wood. Substitutes unused: Turnbull, Berardi, Phillips, Botaka.