MK Dons were held to a goalless draw by Gillingham in their opening match of 2022.
Liam Manning’s men dominated in terms of chances and efforts on goal but weren’t able to find a way past a stubborn Gills defence, who held on to earn a share of the spoils.
MK Dons made just one change from the Boxing Day win over Lincoln City as Troy Parrott replaced Hiram Boateng.
Liam Manning’s men worked themselves into the Gillingham box after just three minutes but Daniel Harvie’s through pass for Parrott was intercepted. Scott Twine then had a try from distance which was blocked by a Gills defender.
The visitors had their first attempt on goal a minute later through a Mustapha Carayol free-kick that was easy pickings for Andrew Fisher.
On eight minutes, Twine found Mo Eisa, who carried the ball into the area and drew a save out of Jamie Cumming with a low shot. At the other end, Daniel Phillips volleyed wide from the edge of the D.
The Dons won themselves a free-kick on the quarter-hour mark which provided opportunities for both Twine and Matt O’Riley. Twine’s initial effort was blocked while O’Riley’s left-footed curler flew over the bar.
Kioso also had an effort blocked, after being teed up by O’Riley, moments before Twine sent one over from the edge of the area, as the Dons’ dominant start continued.
There was almost an opening for Twine on 21 minutes but neither he nor O’Riley on the follow-up were able to get a shot away inside the Gillingham box.
The Dons went close again on a counter-attack soon after but Eisa’s pass for Parrott was cut out right in front of the Irishman. From the resulting corner, Eisa had a close-range shot blocked by a crowd of defenders.
On the half-hour, Warren O’Hora tried his luck on a rare foray forwards but his long-range strike wasn’t able to find the target. Manning’s side later won a corner, from which Kioso glanced over at the near post.
It was O’Hora’s defensive partner Darling who had the final effort of the first half. He also went for goal from distance but this attempt was deflected off the heels of a defender and then gathered by Cumming on his goal-line.
Half-Time – MK Dons 0-0 Gillingham
From an early corner at the start of the second period, Twine forced Cumming into a save. The Dons then had to deal with a Gills long through sent straight into the six-yard area.
O’Keefe had a goal-bound effort blocked and then hooked clear by O’Hora. Harvie then threw himself in the way of a fierce Ryan Jackson strike, after Gills broke quickly from the edge of their own area.
Just prior to the hour, McKenzie shot into the side netting from 10 yards out. Manning then went to his bench for the first time to replace Eisa with Ethan Robson, who was involved a neat move on 72 minutes that resulted in a chance for O’Riley, who drilled just wide of the right post.
David Kasumu entered the contest soon after to add an energy boost to the MK Dons midfield. He won possession back and started an attack which saw Harvie have a 10-yard try blocked on its way to goal.
Kasumu, himself, almost found himself in on goal with six minutes to play but was just beaten to the ball by Tucker.
Charlie Brown was the Dons’ final substitute. He set up Twine for a long-range strike on 88 minutes – one which was palmed wide by Cumming.
That was the closest Manning’s men came to snatching a late winner as they started the New Year in frustrating fashion at Stadium MK.
MK Dons: Fisher, Lewington, O’Hora, Darling, O’Riley, Twine, Eisa (Robson 65), McEachran (Kasumu 72), Parrott (Brown 86), Harvie, Kioso.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Watson, Jules, Boateng.
Gillingham: Cumming, Jackson, O’Keefe, Ehmer, Tucker, McKenzie, Lloyd (Reeves 77), Bennett, Oliver (Tutonda 63), Phillips, Carayol.
Subs: Chapman, Lee, Dempsey, Sithole, Lintott.
Booked: McKenzie, Carayol, Ehmer, Phillips
Referee: C Breakspear
Attendance: 7,899 (420 away)
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