MK Dons ensured they signed-off a disappointing 2017/18 campaign on a positive note courtesy of a 1-0 victory at third-placed Shrewsbury Town.
Kieran Agard scored the decisive goal from the penalty spot as Keith Millen’s men gave the travelling supporters something to smile about heading into what will be a busy offseason.
Boss Millen made five changes to the starting XI, with Scott Wootton, Dean Lewington, Conor
McGrandles, Robbie Muirhead and Agard all coming in. Chuks Aneke travelled to Shropshire but missed out through illness while Ed Upson was unavailable as his wife gave birth to a baby girl. Young Dons Sam Nombe and David Kasumu were among the substitutes.
The Dons create a half chance on goal inside the opening five minutes from a George Williams cross which was headed away by a Shrewsbury defender in front of the target, Muirhead.
Some more good play from Williams three minutes later led to an opening for Callum Brittain but he dragged his right-footed shot wide of the target and out of play, despite Scott Golbourne’s best attempts to keep it in.
Brittain was the provider for the game’s next attempt at goal - an ambitious long-range drove from Muirhead which sailed over the crossbar.
It was mostly Dons threatening the scoreline in the opening 20 minutes and they had a chance to break the deadlock from a well-placed free-kick but Muirhead’s delivery was dealt with at the far post by a defender.
From another Muirhead free-kick, Elliott Ward went close to connecting for his first MK Dons goal. The on-loan defender wasn’t able to get his head to the cross in and, although, Dean Henderson failed to deal with the danger, he couldn’t pounce on the loose ball either.
The Dons maintained their dominance and Brittain produced a save out of Henderson on 23 minutes, after shifting onto his right foot inside the Shrewsbury penalty area.
The hosts didn’t register their first shot on goal until the half-hour mark when James Bolton headed wide from a corner. Eight minutes later, a similar set-piece routine presented Toto Nsiala with a chance but he too directed his header wide of goal.
In the final five minutes of the half, Brittain forced Henderson into a save for the second time. In first-half stoppage time, his opposite number, Sietsma, was called into action for the first time to keep out a fierce strike from Abo Eisa. Sietsma’s strong save ensured the scores remained goalless at the interval.
During the break, Millen made a change which saw Nombe enter play for his first appearance for the first-team since January. The striker recently returned from a loan spell at Oxford City, where he netted six times in nine appearances.
He was merely a spectator for the opening few minutes of the second period as the Dons were put under heavy pressure by their hosts.
It all started with a shot from Shaun Whalley which was blocked behind for a corner. Shrewsbury kept the ball inside their attacking third and soon after Carlton Morris saw a header deflect onto the crossbar. Eventually, though, the Dons were able to get the ball clear.
The Dons were then let off the hook on 58 minutes as a fierce cross from Eisa somehow went untouched through their penalty area.
Four minutes later, they awarded a penalty following Nsiala’s clear foul on Agard inside the area - the striker was skipping away from challenges before eventually being tripped over by the aforementioned Shrewsbury defender.
Agard stepped up to take the spot-kick and sent his effort straight down the middle to give the Dons a 63rd-minute lead. 0-1.
Looking to draw his side level, Alex Rodman dragged a shot wide on 70 minutes. Moments after, at the other end, sub Nombe saw a right-footed drive blocked by a defender as he went in search of his first senior goal.
With 10 minutes to play, Millen handed Kasumu his league debut. The midfielder, who turned professional earlier this season, had made two first-team appearances in cup competitions prior to this appearance.
He was required to help the Dons see out the victory - a feat which appeared to be ruined on 85 minutes. Fortunately for the visitors, Rodman strayed offside before latching onto a pass and finding the far corner of the net.
In the closing stages, Williams did well to prevent Max Lowe troubling Sietsma following a run into the box. Later, Lewington got a vital defensive touch to prevent Ben Godfrey having the chance to shoot at the far post.
Five minutes of added time were awarded by referee Andy Haines and in the first of those, Sietsma produced a strong punch to clear away a cross from Rodman.
Joe Riley headed over with the final chance of the game, as the Dons bowed out of Sky Bet League One with a victory.
Starting XI: Sietsma; Wootton, Ward, Lewington (c); Williams, McGrandles (Kasumu 80), Brittain, Cisse, Golbourne; Agard, Muirhead (Nombe 46).
Unused subs: Jones, Tymon, Tavernier, Nesbitt, Ugbo.
Goal: Agard (63 pen)
Attendance: 6,516 (327 away)
Referee: A Haines