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Kick off 19:00 (UK)

19 September 2023 Venue The Kassam Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:00 (UK)

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Match Reports

Report: Oxford United 0-1 MK Dons

MK Dons claim back-to-back EFL Trophy group stage triumph...

19 September 2023

MK Dons saw back-to-back EFL Trophy group stage success following their 1-0 victory over Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium, courtesy of Jack Payne's penalty.

Graham Alexander provided an overhaul of changes to the starting XI within the Dons’ EFL Trophy tie at the Kassam Stadium. This saw only one player remain in the starting line-up from Saturday’s Stadium MK clash.

Jack Payne, Ellis Harrison, and Joe Tomlinson all received their first start since arriving at the Club in the final week of the summer transfer window.

Anthony Stewart appeared for the first time since his return to MK Dons on transfer deadline day.

Michael Kelly also made his first appearance since signing at Stadium MK ten days prior to the Tuesday evening fixture.

An early move from MK Dons saw Max Dean receive the ball on the left of Oxford’s penalty area. The young forward attempted to cut it back for a red shirt to finish the chance, but Simon Eastwood was aware to the danger and dismantled the opportunity.

Anthony Stewart was the first name to be recorded in the referee’s book after his prevention of Ellison Harrison’s sight at goal.

Shortly after, Graham Alexander’s men won the first corner of the match just five minutes into the tie.

Oxford United remained steady in their defensive efforts and made sure to clear any oncoming danger from the set-piece delivery.

Greg Leigh delivered a pin-point cross into the back post, but Brooklyn Ilunga placed himself between Tyler Goodrham and his headed attempt, which ensured that the effort flew off target.

A vital sliding challenge was produce by Oisin Smyth to deny Harrison a chance at goal. Ilunga slipped Conor Grant in behind before the Irishman pulled back for the intended target of Dons’ number nine, but Smyth’s interception snuffed out the spark of the attack.

Harrison’s pressure on Eastwood could’ve proved costly for the Oxford shot-stopper, whose attempt to clear the ball crashed off the MK Dons attacker.

15 Minutes into the fixture Jack Payne produced a left-footed strike which found its target, but the lack of power behind the effort allowed Eastwood to make a necessary stop that prevented an early opener.

Brooklyn Ilunga made an incredibly-timed block to deny Goodrham’s close-range strike from breaking the deadlock. The young defender threw himself ahead of the strike to divert it around the far post and out for a corner.

Oxford’s corner-kick amounted to little as the ball went out the opposite side whilst possession turned over.

A fingertip save by Simon Eastwood denied Max Dean from adding to his EFL Trophy tally. The ball in from the right located the number 18, who positioned himself on the penalty spot.

The shot had to be taken sharply as the U’s defenders closed in, but nonetheless a great effort destined for the bottom left corner was matched by the save.

Dean saw a second successive opportunity at goal just moments later, though, this wouldn’t match his previous attempt as it failed to hit the target.

Joe Tomlinson was the next MK Dons name to receive a yellow card after his late challenge on Leigh.

Minutes prior to the interval, the home side were rewarded with a free-kick in a seemingly dangerous position on the edge of the Dons’ box.

Oisin Smyth stood over the dead ball and saw his strike crash off the woodwork.

Brooklyn Ilunga was agonisingly close to his first senior goal for MK Dons, but brave defending from Stephan Negru deflected the effort away from goal.

Ellis Harrison provided the cross to find Ilunga, but it was ultimately thwarted by a block that had to be made in order to keep the score-line level at the break.

Graham Alexander presented a change during the interval, which saw 17-year-old Callum Tripp enter the field of play in place of MJ Williams, who recently returned to the side since his injury earlier in the season.

The first action of the second 45 minutes saw former MK Dons player Josh McEachran rewarded with a yellow card. The prevention of Payne’s breakthrough led to the sanction.

Graham Alexander’s men used the set-piece to gain control which presented an attacking move for the visitors. A delivery into a dangerous area fell to Tomlinson, but his strike was well met by Eastwood.

Moments after, Oxford responded with a shot at goal themselves. Fin Stevens was the one to take aim and present Dons debutant Michael Kelly with his first real test. Kelly stood strong and palmed the strike away from goal.

An end-to-end start of the second-half then displayed another moment for the Dons in the 53 minute, but defensive resilience from the U’s denied any clear sight at goal.

On the 54-minute mark Jack Payne was awarded with a penalty. As the number 11 broke through into the box a shove in the back was enough for the referee to award Payne with the spot-kick.

Jack Payne stood over the set-piece he won and converted the chance as he struck a powerful shot into the middle of the net. 0-1

MK Dons had broken the deadlock as the 28-year-old attacker opened his account for the Club.

With the ball in flight Ilunga guided his touch towards Max Dean, whose difficult shot on the turn lacked enough conviction to beat Eastwood between the sticks.

Alexander made multiple changes just after the hour-mark, which saw Jonathan Leko and Daniel Harvie substituted on for Ellis Harrison and Anthony Stewart.

Oxford’s fast-break ultimately saw the ball placed into the feet of Josh Murphy. The opposition’s attacker shifted to his left before hitting a venomous strike off target.

Michael Kelly produced a brilliant save to sustain the Dons’ lead 68 minutes into the tie. Stevens broke down the right and fired a shot, which Kelly turned away as he spread himself big enough to divert the effort.

Leko shaped to shoot 15 minutes after he had been on the field. The number seven sough to double the Dons’ lead, but a strong defensive showing from Ciaron Brown blocked the effort before it could cause any real danger.

A well-worked attack diminished after a red shirt failed to connect with a low-ball across the six-yard box. Payne, Tripp and Tomlinson connected well on the right before the number 24 fired in a cross, which was a fraction too much for Leko to meet.

A similar opportunity arose, this time from the left as Grant replicated the same pass. Once again, the Dons failed to convert the opportunity gained from their positive attacking movement.

Kelly provided a vital touch on a dipping effort to turn it away from danger before the ball found Smyth, whose curled effort went behind for a goal-kick.

Graham Alexander’s men had to see out the final few minutes before they claimed back-to-back EFL Trophy Group Stage victories.

Sonny Perkins produced a strong strike which looked to breach the bottom left corner, but with the shot inches wide of the post, MK Dons held on to their one-goal lead.

The Dons saw back-to-back EFL Trophy Group Stage success as they bested Oxford United one goal to nil at the Kassam Stadium.


MK Dons: Kelly, Lewington (C), O’Hora, Williams (Tripp 45), Harrison (Leko 62), Payne, Tomlinson, Grant, Dean, Ilunga, Stewart (Harvie 62)

MacGillivray, Gilbey, Anker, Scholtz

Goals: Payne 55

Yellow cards:
Stewart 3, Tomlinson 39, Lewington 44, Tripp 66, Harvie 68

Oxford United:
Eastwood (C), Thorniley (Brown 56), McEachran (Murphy 56), Harris, Smyth, Stevens, Perkins, Goodrham (Johnson 56), Leigh, Woltman, Negru

Beadle, Long, Mills, Brannagan

Yellow cards:
McEachran 48

1588 (143)

A Young

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