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MK Dons 2-0 St James Gate

8 July 2013

MK Dons kick started their pre-season campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win over St James’ Gate.

A Shaun Williams penalty in the first half and an Izale McLeod overhead effort shortly after the re-start was enough to see the Dons to victory in their first of 10 pre-season friendliest this month.

The match offered Karl Robinson a chance to cast his eye over all of his players on tour in Ireland, with the exception of Adam Chicksen who sat out with an ankle knock. 

Trialist Santiago Aloi was handed a starting role on the left of midfield while Alan Smith partnered Stephen Gleeson in the centre of midfield and Giorgio Rasulo offered a supporting role to lone-striker Patrick Bamford.

Within the opening 15 minutes Gleeson saw a shot deflected, Aloi showed some great individual skill to beat three players only to volley wide and Bamford sent a free-kick straight down the throat of the St James’ Gate goalkeeper. 

The Dons were in full control of the match but as they committed men forward they left themselves open to the counter-attack. However, the defence of Brendan Galloway, Shaun Williams, Tom Flanagan and Jon Otsemobor were alert enough to any danger and quickly cleared their ranks.

After 30 minutes Robinson stuck to his pre-match plan and replaced Gleeson with Luke Chadwick.

Bamford has been a handful for the Gate defence and when he broke into the right of the box shortly after the half-hour mark he was promptly hacked down, which gave the referee no option but to point to the penalty spot.

Williams duly stepped up with his usual bags of confidence and picked out the top corner to give the Dons a 1-0 lead. The midfielder-turned-defender scored from the spot in the same match last season.

Daniel Powell should have doubled the lead before half-time following an excellent break yet the winger failed to register his shot on target. 

At half-time Robinson made a host of changes which saw David Martin back in goal for the first time since late February while Antony Kay partnered Academy defender Galloway at the back. Darren Potter offered the wise-head in midfield alongside Dele Alli and Izale McLeod led the strike force.

Within two minutes of the re-start the Dons found themselves two goals to the good when McLeod’s overhead effort looped up hit the back of the net, there was debate on whether it was an own goal but the Dons forward was clear to claim it has crossed the line from his strike. The second goal more or less confirmed the result for the evening, but Martin was called on to make two stops at the other end of the pitch.

The youngsters on the pitch – George Baldock, Alli, Galloway and, later in the second half, Harry Hickford – all produced an impressive shift while the more experienced players showed glimpses of their quality.

Alli almost added his name to the score sheet 11 minutes from time with a superb long-range strike which lifted just inches over while Chadwick also saw a free-kick rise over.

The final chance of the match came to McLeod following some good work from Alli, but the forward could only turn his shot into the body o the goalkeeper.

While the result and, to an extent, the performance were secondary to the importance of match-time and fitness for the players, boss Robinson would have been pleased with aspects but equally aware that there is plenty of room for improvement. 

MK Dons first-half team: McLoughlin; Otsemobor, Flanagan, Williams, Galloway; Smith, Gleeson (Chadwick 30); Powell, Rasulo, Alio; Bamford (McLeod 43).

MK Dons second-half team: Martin; Otsemobor (Hickford 58), Kay, Galloway, Lewington; Potter, Alli; Baldock, Williams (Aloi 68), Chadwick; McLeod.

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