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Match Report


Posted Mon 02 May 11 at 09:59 AM


MK Dons confirmed their place in the npower League 1 play-offs with a 2-1 win at home to Notts County. Second-half goals from Sam Baldock and Angelo Balanta secured a top-six finish for Karl Robinson's men, who would have reached the play-offs regardless of the result at stadiummk due to Leyton Orient's crushing defeat by Tranmere Rovers. At half-time, with Bournemouth winning at Hartlepool, the Dons had dropped down to sixth place, but by tying up three points in the second half they were able to book an extended season and move back into fifth position. The deserved victory for the Dons came in a much improved second half with Baldock and Balanta giving Karl Robinson's men a two-goal lead 15 minutes after the break. Notts County, managed by former Dons boss Maritn Allen, clawed a goal back through Karl Hawley, but they still need a point from their final game to secure their survival. Sam Baldock battles for the ball in the first half The Magpies made a promising start when Alan Judge ghosted through the Dons' box inside five minutes to pick up a neat through ball from Craig Westcarr, yet as he tried to take the ball across the body of David Martin the Dons' goalie was able to palm away. The danger was not quite clear there though and Dean Lewington quickly had to act to clear the ball as Neal Bishop pressurised in the six-yard box. County's bright play began to disintegrate as the Dons imposed their style on the Notts outfit, finding particular joy down the left flank with both Keanu Marsh-Brown and Dean Lewington pushing high up the pitch and spraying the ball around the body of Krystian Pearce. The Dons, though not creating clear cut chances, were in full control as they camped out in County's half while Allen's side resorted to route one football. Mathais Kouo-Doumbe towers over Neal Bishop The Magpies were given another opportunity to test the Dons when a deep free-kick was played in by Pearce and found Sam Sodje, but the defender's header lacked the power needed as Martin made the most comfortable of saves. Although the Dons were enjoying plenty of the ball they found Country's backline difficult to break through. Luke Chadwick was presented with acres of space in midfield and, at the request of the Cowshed, opted to try a shot from distance, but he could only lob over. The break the Dons had been seeking appeared to be coming when Stephen Gleeson won the ball in midfield and raced free from his own half, with Chadwick providing support he stroked the ball into his path. However, Chadwick's run was cut short when Soje slid into a challenge from behind, a foul that earned him a caution from referee Steve Rushton. It was from the resulting free-kick that the Dons came close to registering their first shot on target as Peter Leven's delivery was struck beautifully, dipping over the ball yet, agonisingly, fell inches wide. Luke Chadwick drives forward from midfield County has a golden opportunity to break the deadlock minutes before the break when Westcarr crossed into the box but a weak header from Edwards saw the ball pushed wide. The Dons were forced into a change at half-time with Chadwick struggling with a knock Angelo Balanta took up the free-roaming role behind Baldock. The change in personnel almost brought about a change in fortunes for the Dons, within minutes of the restart Marsh-Brown had cut inside and brought Balanta into action and the Columbian-born whizz kid sent a low drive through the County box, only falling wide due to a deflection. But the Dons found the break through they had deserved in the 52nd minute when Leven spotted the run of Baldock and played an inch perfect long cross into the box. By the time Liam Chilvers noticed the striker behind his shoulder it was too late, Baldock brilliantly finished into the roof of the net with his right boot. Sam Baldock applies the finishing touch as the Dons take the lead The Cowshed continued to celebrate when County re-started, and the Dons almost came unstuck as Karl Hawley launched a thunderous shot from 35-yards for Martin to brilliantly push around the post. Notts County had another chance to level the scores moments later when uncharacteristically Lewington failed to clear and Hawley was able to pick up the loose ball and force a tip away from Martin. Robinson's Dons made the Magpies pay for the missed opportunity when Baldock drove a low ball in and Balanta was able to get ahead of Bishop to turn the ball home and double their lead. However, County reduced the deficit just two minutes late when Martin failed in his attempt to collect a corner whipped in at pace by Westcarr and Hawley was able to convert from close range. Angelo Balanta celebrates with his team mates as he nets the Dons' second against Notts County With the Dons looking to head into the play-offs with momentum, and Notts County desperate to confirm their League 1 status both teams pushed on to add to the scoreline which made the second half better viewing for the crowd. The Dons could have extended their lead when Powell was allowed to break down the right and cut back for Balanta, who turned his shot wide, and Leven also came close to getting on the score sheet when he stole the ball in midfield and, after taking a few strides forward, sent a low shot at Stuart Nelson, who did well to keep hold of the ball. County substitute John Spicer almost levelled the scores in the closing moments when his shot from 18-yards found a way through the Dons box, but Martin, at the second time of asking, was able to hold on and with it the Dons wrapped up three points. MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Kouo-Doumbe, O'Hanlon, MacKenzie, Lewington (c); Leven, Gleeson; Powell, Chadwick (Balanta 45), Marsh-Brown (Ibehre 74); S Baldock (Clayton 86). Subs: Searle, Chicksen, Woodards, Guy. Booked: MacKenzie Goals: S Baldock 52, Balanta 60 Notts County: Nelson, Edwards (Hughes 55), Bishop (c), Pearce, Chilvers, Hawley, Westcarr, Judge (Spicer 83), Harley, Burgess (Demba-Nyren 59), Sodje. Subs: Burch, Darby, Thompson, Smith. Goal: Hawley 62 Booked: Sodje Referee: Steve Rushton (Staffordshire) Attendance: 10, 031 (1,187 away)

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