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Match Reports

Report: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-4 MK Dons

Liam Manning's men start pre-season with four-goal win...

5 July 2022

Match Reports

Report: AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-4 MK Dons

Liam Manning's men start pre-season with four-goal win...

5 July 2022

MK Dons kicked-off their pre-season campaign with a 4-0 victory over AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

Josh McEachran netted the first goal of the summer, converting from the penalty spot after Conor Grant was brought down in the area.

Dan Kemp doubled the Dons’ lead before half-time, with Nathan Holland and Ethan Robson adding two more in the second half - the former doing so on his first appearance in Club colours.

Team news
Liam Manning’s first-half XI included one of his summer signings – Irish midfielder Conor Grant - who lined up alongside youngsters Callum Tripp, Tommy Blennerhassett and Charlie Waller amongst several pros.

First half
It was one of the Dons youngsters, Tripp, who went close first, heading just wide from a corner after Warren O’Hora had put the ball back into the mix from Dan Kemp’s delivery.

Two more of the Young Dons combined on 12 minutes when Waller picked out Blennerhassett with a cross. Blennerhassett did well to beat his man to the ball but wasn’t able to direct his effort on target.

There were shouts for a penalty shortly after when Conor Grant went down in the area under a challenge from a Diamonds defender, however the referee was unmoved by the appeals.

There was a decent opening for Kemp with 18 minutes played after he latched onto a reverse pass from Lewis Johnson. Kemp took a touch into the area but saw his left-footed effort blocked by a Diamonds man.

MK Dons eventually broke the deadlock midway through the first half when Grant was brought down inside the box. McEachran stepped up to take the spot-kick and converted confidently from 12-yards. 0-1.

Johnson tried his luck at doubling the Dons lead on the half-hour mark but fired over from the edge of the area. Blennerhassett then went agonisingly close to poking home from Waller’s header into the area.

The Dons did double their advantage with six minutes to play in the half through a terrific strike from Kemp. Tripp started the move by winning possession in the Diamonds half and then finding Kemp, who cut in from the left and beat Dean Snedker with a fierce strike. 0-2.

Watson flashed a shot wide as the Dons searched for a late third before the break, though they were made to settle for a two-goal advantage at half-time.

Half-Time – AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-2 MK Dons

Second half
Liam Manning made 11 changes at the break, handing first Dons appearances to new signings such as Jack Tucker, Matt Dennis, Nathan Holland.

Hosts AFC Rushden & Diamonds had the first opportunity of the second half – a free-kick from Tshikuna which Sandford watched over his crossbar.

One of the Dons’ summer recruits combined to go close to a third on 58 minutes, Dennis, whose powerful header flashed just past the right post.

Just past the hour mark, Sandford produced an excellent one-on-one stop to deny Tshikuna, who had broken through on goal. At the other end, Holland had a curling effort blocked by a Diamonds defender.

Holland, though, wasn’t to be denied a goal on his Dons bow as he made it three with 65 minutes on the clock.

After some good work by Dennis, Holland picked up possession and found Edward Gyamfi, who returned the pass inside the area. Holland then let the ball roll into position for him to hit a right-foot shot across goal and, despite the tight angle, he found the bottom corner. 0-3.

Holland and Dennis almost combined two minutes later but the latter wasn’t able to get to the former’s low ball ahead of his marker. The hosts then went close to pulling a goal back but Sandford denied former Dons Academy graduate Connor Furlong.

Searching for his second, and an MK Dons fourth, Holland bent a right-footed shot just past the post on 77 minutes. Smith then went near to finding the net with a fierce strike which fizzed over the bar.

The fourth and final goal did arrive with three minutes to play, though, as Robson latched onto a pass and, from the edge of the D, swept home into the bottom right-hand corner - a superb finish and a fine way to end a positive evening's work for Manning and his side. 0-4.

Full-Time - AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-4 MK Dons

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