MK Dons played out an entertaining goalless draw with UD Almeria, in a game where midfielder Alex Gilbey played his first match minutes on his road to recovery.
Gilbey played 30 minutes at the start of the second half and contributed to a positive display from Paul Tisdale’s side, who dominated for large periods against the Spanish outfit and looked solid in defence.
MK Dons started well but it was Almeria who would register the first shot on goal – Chema Nunez with a long-range effort which Lee Nicholls got down to.
Soon after, following some good work in the middle of the park by Ryan Watson, Aidan Nesbitt worked his way into the Almeria penalty area.
He couldn’t get a shot away, however, and neither good Kieran Agard when the loose ball fell his way.
MK Dons were looking comfortable, with Jordan Moore-Taylor impressive in the centre of defence. He and Dean Lewington both cleared away crosses in from the left.
Going forward, Paul Tisdale’s side were looking dangerous and they almost created a shooting chance on 19 minutes but George Williams’ low cross for Agard was intercepted.
Williams was bursting forward down the right at every available opportunity and his deliveries were causing problems for the Almeria defence.
At the other end, Lee Nicholls was called upon to deal with a tame Sergio Perez effort while striker Sekou Gassama lifted one over the bar.
Not long after the half-hour mark, there were strong appeals for a penalty following a Ryan Watson free-kick which looked to have been blocked by the arm of a defender.
There were further shouts moments later when Agard went down in the box but, on both occasions, the referee said no.
MK Dons saw out the half by defending three successive corners and then returned for the second period with six new faces, including Gilbey – seven months after undergoing surgery for a knee injury.
The popular midfielder was involved right from the start, driving forward with the ball whenever possible. He almost made it a comeback to remember on 66 minutes but his fierce right-footed strike was deflected over the bar.
Another who impressed during the second half was Ryan Harley, on his first outing since returning to MK Dons. He caused real problems with one particular delivery in from the left.
In hot conditions, the tempo of the game slowed down as the clock ticked on. UD Almeria, to their credit, ended the match strong but Wieger Sietsma and the MK Dons defence saw off their late threats to come away with a positive result.
Starting XI: Nicholls (Sietsma 46), Williams (Nombe 60), Tapp (Jackson 31), Moore-Taylor (Tapp 60), Lewington (Hancox 60); Muirhead (Brittain 46), Watson (Gilbey 46 (Sole 75)), McGrandles (Houghton 46), Nesbitt (Harley 46); Simpson (Pawlett 46), Agard (Asonganyi 60).
Unused subs: Walsh, Kasumu, Cisse, D’Ath.