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Report: MK Dons 1-1 Stevenage

Aneke salvages a point for Paul Tisdale's men...

16 March 2019

Chuks Aneke scored a late equaliser to salvage a point for MK Dons at home to Stevenage and lift Paul Tisdale's back into the automatic promotion places.

Boro attacker Ilias Chair scored a stunning long-range strike on the half-hour mark but the hosts cancelled that out late on through Chuks Aneke’s 17th goal of the season.

The result lifts the Dons back into the automatic promotion places in Sky Bet League Two, one point ahead of Mansfield Town who entertain leaders Lincoln City on Monday.

They therefore remain fourth in the Sky Bet League Two table, adrift of the automatic promotion places on goal difference.

Boss Tisdale was boosted by the return of Mathieu Baudry and Cargill, who came into the starting XI as two of four changes. The other big switches saw Lee Nicholls replace Stuart Moore in goal and top goalscorer Kieran Agard come back into the side in place of Chuks Aneke.

The first chance of the contest fell the way of the visitors, Stevenage, and it was former MK Dons striker Alex Revell who had the opportunity. He raced onto Kurtis Guthrie’s header but saw his low shot comfortably saved by Nicholls.

MK Dons responded and were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Alex Gilbey down the left flank. Jordan Houghton took it and almost caught Paul Farmon off guard - unfortunately, the Boro keeper managed to get across in time to keep the ball out.

On 10 minutes, Paul Tisdale’s men had penalty appeals waved away by Martin Coy despite David Wheeler appearing to be bundled over in the box while trying to connect with Dean Lewington’s deep cross.

Revell then had another sight of goal moments later but Baudry did enough to prevent the Stevenage striker from getting enough power behind his shot to trouble Nicholls.

There was a stoppage in play shortly after when Wheeler took a whack from Michael Timlin as the pair chased a loose ball. The blow forced Wheeler off the pitch, with Chuks Aneke brought on as his replacement.

While the Dons adjusted to the change, Stevenage attacked with several balls into the box which the defence dealt with. They then saw Hesketh curl a shot into the arms of Farman from 25-yards out, on the counter.

Tisdale’s men then earned a corner from which Russell Martin, with his back to goal, sent an acrobatic effort over the crossbar.

The Dons were in control of proceedings as the game moved past the half-hour mark but it was Stevenage who took the lead courtesy of a stunning long-range strike from Chair, who found the bottom corner of Nicholls’ net from all of 30-yards. 0-1.

There were nine minutes left for the Dons to restore parity before the break and they thought they had done so right away but Agard’s low ball was put inches wide by a touch off a Boro defender. From the resulting corner, Gilbey saw a half-volley blocked.

At the other end of the field, Stevenage were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the area for a what Mr. Coy deemed to be a foul on Chair. The QPR loanee took the set-piece himself but saw his attempt blocked by the Dons’ wall.

Minutes later, Baudry then produced a vital clearance inside his own six-yard box to prevent Chair’s low cross being tapped home by a teammate.

The final chance of the first half fell the way of MK Dons. Hesketh got the byline before picking out Agard with a low cross - the Club’s top goalscorer, however, could only stab his effort over the bar.

Tisdale’s side emerged for the second half with a second change to their line-up - Conor McGrandles on in place of Baudry, which brought with it a switch in formation too, as the Dons reverted to a back four.

Within two minutes of the re-start, Brittain sent a cross into the area and it was just a yard or two in front of an outstretched Aneke at the far post. Houghton later delivered another cross from the right but this one was cleared away.

Stevenage countered back and Revell had a deflected effort saved by Nicholls. Revell then had a header saved by the MK Dons number one from Chair’s cross.

On 51 minutes, MK Dons won a corner from which Cargill headed over. From a latter attacking move, Martin was denied a stunning first goal for the Club by a terrific save from Farman, who somehow got down to the defender’s low drive and kept it out with help from his crossbar.

Tisdale was forced into his third and final change moments later as Cargill limped off, with Robbie Simpson brought on in his place.

His side went agonisingly close to equalising with 65 minutes on the clock but McGrandles’ curling free-kick struck the post with Farman beaten. Hesketh went just as close with a stunning left-footed strike which sailed just wide of the left upright.

With 14 minutes to play, a corner taken by McGrandles was flicked onto the head of Agard but he failed to convert from close-range.

It took until the 83rd minute for the Dons to finally get back on level terms and it was Aneke on target. A cross-field pass from Martin was flicked onto Gilbey by Simpson, and the midfielder cooly delivered back across goal for Aneke to volley home from close range. 1-1.

Gilbey tried his luck shortly after the re-start as he and his teammates searched for a late winner - his strike flew over the crossbar.

The Dons continued to huff and puff but so did Stevenage, who twice went close to winning the match late on.

In the end, both sides settled for a point - a point which nudges Paul Tisdale’s men back into the top-three.

Starting XI: Nicholls; Martin, Baudry (McGrandles 46), Cargill (Simpson 61); Brittain, Gilbey, Houghton, Lewington (c); Hesketh; Wheeler (Aneke 22), Agard.

Unused subs: Moore, Cisse, Harley, Walker.

Goal: Aneke (82)

Referee: M Coy

Attendance: 7,365 (586 away)

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