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Match Report


Posted Sat 08 Aug 09 at 19:27 PM


Life under Paul Ince re-starts with a draw for the Dons on the opening day of the League 1 season, as defences come out on top at stadiummk.

Ince had maintained in advance of the game that it would take time for his new-look outfit to settle, but there were enough flashes of quality from the Dons this afternoon to encourage their new boss. A defence containing four debutants coped well with Hartlepool's advances, that despite being robbed of skipper Dean Lewington to illness and Sean O'Hanlon to injury. In midfield they were bright and inventive at times and in attack they looked sharp in patches.

Jason Puncheon went closest to breaking the deadlock with a vicious second-half free-kick that was tipped over brilliantly by 'Pools 'keeper Scott Flinders. Jemal Johnson and Jermaine Easter also had their moments. Darren Powell jumps for a header with 'Pools 'keeper Scott Flinders.

Hartlepool will be relatively pleased with their points, but far from looked like a side that had come for just that. They played with purpose in the first half especially and might have had more if Leon McSweeney could have converted a Richie Jones cross in the first period. Dons off the mark for the season and they'll now turn their attention to Swindon in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.

As it happened:
90+2mins - Change for the visitors in the final minute of added time as Jonny Rowell comes on to replace Fredriksen. That looks like it'll be all.

90mins - Howell breaks up a period of Hartlepool possession well in midfield and carries the Dons forward. He attempts a one-two with Bridges as he approaches the box, but the return pass from the substitute is off target and Fredriksen recovers.

86mins - Four minutes to go at stadiummk and we're no nearer a breakthrough. Hartlepool have enjoyed a little more possession in the last few minutes but there's been little to concern Willy Gueret. Need a bit of magic from somewhere.

83mins - It's going to be Easter to make way for Bridges, applauding the fans as he heads to the touchline. Bridges races into the action in what will be a straight swap up front.

82mins - There's going to be a debut for Michael Bridges, who is stripped on the bench and ready to go.

80mins - Gueret takes a catch from a Hartlepool corner and immediately releases Puncheon on the left. He scoots past Haslam comfortably and drives towards the box, but though his shot does catch Flinders slightly off guard, the 'Pools 'keeper gathers.

78mins - Patience looks like the key here as we search for something to break the deadlock. Howell's pass into the box doesn't find Easter and there's a hint of frustration from the crowd. Still plenty of time.

75mins - Puncheon is trying to win this game single-handedly at the moment. Howell seizes on a loose ball in the centre circle, driving forward before feeding Puncheon, who takes a touch and smashes a shot a couple of feet wide from 25 yards.

73mins - Terrific effort from Puncheon, who whips the resulting free-kick goalwards from just over 20 yards out and forces an excellent tip over from Flinders. Great hit, great save.

72mins - Puncheon mugs McSweeney halfway inside the Dons half and then switches play immediately for Easter racing down the right. He stands Liddle up, goes to pass him into the box and is cynically blocked. Free-kick and a booking.

68mins - Woodards delivers a wonderful early pass in behind right-back Haslam to send Johnson racing into space. Johnson holds up on the deadball line before teeing up Howell, who hits a mis-cued shot across goal. Easter retrieves it to shoot just wide on the turn, but the flag is up anyway.

66mins - Puncheon looks the most likely to create an opening for the Dons here, teasing two defenders down the right flank before darting inside them, feining past a third in the box and then squirting a low ball through the box that Liddle almost turns towards his own goal.

64mins - Big cheer from the visiting supporters as James Brown comes on to replace Richie Jones. The oncoming winger is a big favourite at Victoria Park and will be a threat to the Dons in these final 26 minutes.

62mins - Howell goes into the book after biting hard into a challenge on Sweeney 25 yards from the Dons goal.

61mins - Lovely slide-rule pass from Howell to send Johnson scampering in behind down the left. Cross cut out for a corner, taken by Johnson and headed just over by Doumbe. Change for the Dons sees Chadwick replaced by debutant Lewis Gobern.

59mins - Ever the man to lift the atmosphere, Puncheon carries the ball dangerously through the middle of the park before unleashing a stinging 30-yard drive that Flinders has to parry up before catching at the second attempt.

57mins - Dons fans find a bit of voice, but pipe down a little when a free-kick goes against Howell on the edge of his own box for a foul on McSweeney. Fredriksen tries to curl it, but it hits the head of Woodards in the wall and bounces to safety.

56mins - Easter wins a free-kick off Collins 35 yards out and Puncheon's resulting shot drops straight into Flinders' grateful hands. Johnson has switched to the left flank with Puncheon and Chadwick exchanging between the right-wing role and the second striker position.

54mins - Puncheon whips a dangerous near-post corner in from the right and Easter is within inches of making decisive connection. Headed away well by Hartley.

51mins - Behan gets himself all in a muddle on the edge of the box after Jones had cushioned a cross from the left invitingly into his path. Unsure of whether to hit it with left or right, he does neither and steps awkwardly over the ball.

49mins - Paul Ince has arrived in the dugout after watching the first half from a betten viewpoint in the stands. He's barking out instructions from the technical area and looking for more from his team.

47mins - Easter holds the ball up well and finds Chadwick in space centrally, who in turn works the ball across to Johnson on the left flank. The American tries to dart past Haslam on the outside, but his cross goes straight behind for a goal kick.

Dons get us back underway and are attacking the Cowshed in the second half. No changes for either side.

Two minutes of added time at the end of the first half come to an end with this game still completely in the balance. Hartlepool have given as good as they've got in the first period, getting on the front foot quickly with balls into the strikers and looking strong in defence when it's entered their final third. Luke Chadwick is crowded out by the Hartlepool defence.

Chances have been at a premium, but 'Pools skipper Sam Collins has caused some problems with his long throws into the box - Leon McSweeney going particularly close to converting one before Mathias Doumbe cleared. At the other end, skipper for the day Jemal Johnson skewed a shot wide early-on and had a decent shout for a penalty turned down after turning Collins in the box. You sense the best of both sides is still to come.

44mins - Tempers are starting to fray out there as McSweeney flies in late on Johnson as the Dons skipper looks to clear a ball down the line following a Hartlepool corner. Howell is then left hands-on-head after Fredriksen tumbles under his challenge in the centre-circle and wins a free-kick.

41mins - Looks like the first booking of the season as McCracken goes through the back of McSweeney on the halfway line. Pretty standard booking for a poorly-timed challenge.

39mins - Bit of a scuffle in the box as Powell bounces off Flinders as the pair jump for a corner. Flinders seems to stand on the prostrate Powell as Hartlepool clear and Powell grabs his foot angrily. Nothing much in it, but Powell needs a bit of treatment.

37mins - Richie Jones chases a bouncing ball into Dons territory and is rewarded when Powell struggles to deal with the clearance. Jones scampers into the box down the right, crossing for McSweeney at the far post but Doumbe does enough to deny him.

34mins - Howell's quick thinking sends Puncheon into some space from a quick free-kick and the winger's cross is just too high for the climbing Chadwick in the middle. It's getting better from the home side.

31mins - Free-kick loaded into the Dons box draws Monkhouse, Howell and Gueret all to the ball. Gueret punches out for a corner but Howell needs a bit of treatment after his goalkeeper landed square on top of him.

30mins - First flash of quality from Johnson as he controls Howell's clever pass into the box, tries to turn round Collins and tumbles under the challenge. No penalty says referee Keith Hill.

27mins - Dons just struggling to make the ball stick up front at the moment. Easter has been closely-guarded and Johnson is never likely to win a physical battle with Collins. Midfield is very congested and the Dons have struggled to pass through the orange shirts.

24mins - McCracken doesn't like it, but a free-kicks been given against him about 10 yards outside the Dons box to the left after he wrestled with Behan for a ball in the air. Behan himself steps up to smash it goalwards, but the ball hammers straight into the wall.

22mins - Michael Bridges, signed on a non-contract basis in the hours building up to kick-off, trots off on a warm-up down by the touchline. One wonders how valuable his experience could be later on if he is required.

20mins - Easter wins a free-kick 40 yards out with Liddle climbing all over him. Johnson whips it into the box from a central position but goalkeeper Scott Flinders is able to gather comfortably.

17mins - It's been a decent start from Hartlepool, they've subdued the Dons fans quickly and had their fair share of the ball in the opening stages. No major chances to write home about, but Chris Turner will be pleased with the opening 17 minutes.

14mins - It's been a decent start from big Darren Powell in defence, attacking a host of balls launched his way from deep. Collins hurls another long throw into the Dons box from the left, Carrington gets a flick to it and Willy Gueret has to be on his toes to make a good catch under the crossbar.

11mins - First real bit of pressure for the visitors as a couple of Collins long throws from the right cause a problem or two for the Dons, the latter deceiving Powell in its depth and nearly falling perfectly for McSweeney in the six-yard box. Doumbe clears.

8mins - More good link-up between Chadwick and Woodards sees the full-back win a corner out on the left. Johnson's delivery is deep and Powell can't win it in the air against Collins.

5mins - Good football around the left corner of the Hartlepool box between Chadwick and Woodards ends with Johnson shooting from a tight angle and slicing his effort well wide.

3mins - McSweeney thinks he's sprung the offside trap dangerously down the left but is stopped in his tracks by the assistant's flag. Dons have lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Woodards at left-back, Doumbe at right-back and Johnson in the hole behind frontman Easter.

MK DONS: Willy Gueret, Mathias Doumbe, David McCracken, Jermaine Easter, Jemal Johnson (c), Mark Carrington, Danny Woodards, Jason Puncheon, Luke Howell, Darren Powell, Luke Chadwick.
SUBS: Lewis Gobern, Stuart Searle, Richie Partridge, Michael Bridges, David King, Adam Chicksen.

HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Scott Flinders, Gary Liddle, Sam Collins (c), Leon McSweeney, Richie Jones, Denis Behan, Andy Monkhouse, Anthony Sweeney, Steve Haslam, Jon-Andre Fredriksen, Peter Hartley.
SUBS: Neil Austin, Adam Boyd, James Brown, Jonny Rowell, David Foley, Nick Thomas.

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