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Match Reports

Report: Cheltenham Town 3-1 MK Dons

Dons defeated on Boxing Day...

26 December 2018

MK Dons suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time this season as they were beaten 3-1 by Cheltenham Town at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

Neil Atangana put the Robins ahead inside the opening quarter of an hour but Chuks Aneke cancelled it out with his 11th goal of the season.

Cheltenham, though, restored their lead in the final minute of the first half through Tyrone Barnett and then, after holding off the Dons throughout the second half, added to their tally late on - Chris Clements the goalscorer of the third goal.

The result means Paul Tisdale's side occupy second place in the Sky Bet League Two table at the midway point of the season, four points adrift of leaders Lincoln City and two points clear of fourth-place Colchester United whom they hold a game in hand on.

Boss Tisdale made one change to his starting XI with Aneke returning to the side in place of Rhys Healey. There was an alteration amongst the substitutes too, with David Kasumu coming in for Osman Sow.

It was MK Dons who created the first chance of the game, three minutes in. Alex Gilbey drove forward from half-way and found Kieran Agard, who cut inside on his right foot and saw a low shot blocked.

Cheltenham responded and went straight up the other end to force a corner, from which Atangana had a close-range effort kept out by Lee Nicholls. It was an instinctive save from the Dons goalkeeper, who got enough of his chest on the attempt to force it wide.

On eight minutes, Lawson D’Ath lifted an inviting cross into the mix - one which was just above the heads of George Williams and Aneke. Later, Dean Lewington delivered in a ball which a sliding Aneke was an inch away from connecting with at the far post.

A vital slide tackle from Gilbey in the 11th minute prevented Atangana from attempting what would have been ambitious long-range effort. The Robins midfielder was in right mind to think about going for goal, though, with Nicholls out of position following his clearance up the line.

Atangana would, though, break the deadlock for Cheltenham Town just before the quarter-hour point with a header low into the bottom left-hand corner from Alex Addai’s cross. 1-0.

Gilbey earned MK Dons a free-kick almost immediately from kick-off but Lewington wasn’t able to pick out a teammate with his delivery. Lewington had another chance to send in a cross soon after, following a neat back-heel from D’Ath. Aneke met the cross but Agard wasn’t able to pounce.

Aneke found himself on the end of another delivery on 22 minutes and this time he found the net. Gilbey sent the ball in and the MK Dons number 10 climbed above his man to power a header home - his 11th goal of the season. 1-1.

The Dons kept their foot on the gas and McGrandles soon delivered another cross into the area which ran through to the goalkeeper instead of find the feet of Agard.

Cheltenham then created a great chance to restore their lead but Sam Jones, after some neat footwork in the area, was denied by some brave goalkeeping from Nicholls, who jumped at the midfielder’s feet to prevent a shot.

Addai also went close for the hosts but was thwarted in his attempts to test Nicholls by some excellent defending from Williams, who forced the forward wide enough that he couldn’t direct his shot on target.

Williams and Addai were involved in the action again on the half-hour mark with the Dons’ number 2 doing enough to fairly put pressure on his opponent, who fired well wide when well-placed inside the area.

At the other end, Aneke intercepted a clearance from goalkeeper Scott Flinders but couldn’t beat with him a lob. Ousseynou Cisse then had a low left-footed drive blocked before the Malian did well in his defensive duties to block an effort on the edge of his own area.

Cheltenham’s Jones blasted a long-range effort over the bar with seven minutes to play in the half. Agard then hit the side netting for the Dons after a well-worked free-kick routine which saw Williams cleared a path to side a ball across to the near post.

It was the hosts who would have the final say of the half, with Barnett heading in a left-wing cross to re-instate’s Cheltenham lead heading into the break. 2-1.

While there were no substitutes at half-time, Tisdale did alter his formation in an attempt to get his team back on track. The Dons adopted a 4-3-3 formation, with Jordan Houghton moving into midfield alongside Gilbey and Cisse.

His side almost drew level within seconds of the re-start but Aneke’s deflected try was palmed wide by Flinders, diving to his right. Cheltenham’s Jones later had a half-chance to extend home side’s lead but his header was comfortable for Nicholls.

In the 52nd minute, Agard bent a left-footed shot wide of the far post from 20 yards. Tisdale then made his first two changes of the game, introducing Peter Pawlett and Ryan Watson in place of D’Ath and Cisse.

Cargill headed wide from a Lewington free-kick soon after the alterations were made. Cheltenham’s Hussey then fired into the side netting from a tight angle as the hosts reminded the Dons of their threat.

The Robins went close again in the 72nd minute from an Atangana try which Houghton, crucially, got in the way of. Simpson then entered the field as Tisdale’s final roll of the dice and he was straight away involved - heading away inside his six-yard box from a threatening corner.

Later, the experienced striker sent an inviting low ball into the area but none of his teammates were able to connect. From the resulting corner, Cargill headed off target.

With seven minutes to play, Watson had a glorious opportunity to draw the Dons level but, untracked, he sent his first-time shot wide from Gilbey’s cutback from 10 yards out.

He and his teammates then paid the full price as Clements worked his way into the Dons penalty area and found the net for Cheltenham’s third goal - the game-clincher. 3-1.

MK Dons starting XI: Nicholls; Williams, Houghton, Cargill; McGrandles, Gilbey, Cisse (Watson 60), Lewington (c); D’Ath (Pawlett 60); Aneke, Agard (Simpson 72).

MK Dons unused subs: Moore (GK), Hancox, Kasumu, Healey.

Goal: Aneke (22)

Booked: Aneke, Cisse

Cheltenham Town starting XI: Flinders, Hussey, Tozer (c), Atangana, Thomas, Boyle, Addai (Dawson 87), Forster, Jones (Varney 82), Clements, Barnett.

Cheltenham Town unused subs: Lovett (GK), Mullins, Mooney, Alcock, Brennan.

Goals: Atangana (14), Barnett (45), Clements (85)

Booked: Clements

Referee: D Whitestone

Attendance: 3,266 (446 away)


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