Powell with the goal as impressive Latics pick up three points in the first game of the season
- Paul Cook records win in first competitive game in charge.
- Nick Powell netted for Latics in the 38th minute.
- Both sides down to 10 men by 58th minute after Callum Elder shown straight red in first half
- Seven players were given their debuts.
The Paul Cook era begun with three points as Latics claimed a great victory victory over MK Dons in Buckinghamshire thanks to Nick Powell’s superb first half finish.
Powell put Latics ahead in the 38th minute after he latched on to Michael Jacobs’ through ball and slotted past Lee Nicholls in the home goal with a really clinical strike.
Latics were dealt a blow after Powell's goal though as left back Callum Elder was shown a red card for a challenge on George Williams.
However, MK Dons were also reduced to 10 men early in the second half as Scott Wootton was sent off for fouling Jacobs when through on goal.
With both sides back on even terms, Latics looked in control and MK Dons had former Latics keeper to thank for not conceding further after making three really good saves in the second half.
Cook included six full debutants in his starting line-up, as Christian Walton, Chey Dunkley, Elder, Lee Evans, Gavin Massey and Ivan Toney all started, Terell Thomas coming on as a second half substitute.
Kieran Agard had the first real chance of the game for Robbie Neilson’s men as his strike from 20 yards whistled just wide of Walton’s far post.
Latics responded soon after though and should have gone ahead through Massey, but the former Leyton Orient man dragged a shot wide from a good position.
Cook’s men were playing some really neat football, and new signing Toney almost flicked Massey’s cross past Nicholls but the MK Dons defence cleared.
Williams headed wide for the hosts from close range on the half hour mark, but it was at the other end where the game had its first goal as Powell finished coolly on 38 minutes.
There was drama just before the break though as Elder was shown a straight red card by the referee for a late challenge on the far side on Williams. Mistimed yes, but a red looked harsh.
After the interval, Ryan Seager almost pulled Neilson’s side level, but shot into the side netting after connecting with a cross from the right from Gboly Ariyiei.
Wootton was then given his marching orders by the referee just before the hour after tripping Jacobs in the centre circle when the forward would have been clean through on goal.
With both sides down to 10 men, Latics then almost doubled their lead through Toney, only to be denied fantastically by Nicholls who tipped his diving header away.
Latics were very much on top and the home side had Nicholls to thank again as he twice denied Nathan Byrne and Jacobs with a couple of fine stops.
Cook's men had to deal with some home pressure in the final minutes but Walton was never truly troubled and the team as a whole defended superbly and were worthy winners on the day.
The players and Cook went over to greet the big travelling support at the final whistle after a really stisfactory opening day - that hasn't happened for a while.
Latics: Walton; N. Byrne, Dunkley, Burn, Elder; Morsy, L. Evans; Massey (Colclough 79), Jacobs, Powell (Thomas 45); Toney (Grigg 67).
Subs not used: O. Evans, Perkins, Gilbey, Hunt.
MK Dons: Nicholls; Williams, Wootton, Ebanks-Landell, Lewington, Upson (Muirhead 81), Cisse, Tshibola, Agard (Thomas-Asante 81), Ariyibi, Seager (Pawlett 63).
Subs not used: Sietsma, Downing, Brittain, McGrandles.