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Match Reports

Report: MK Dons 2-2 Cheltenham Town

Full-time summary from Stadium MK...

15 April 2023

Match Reports

Report: MK Dons 2-2 Cheltenham Town

Full-time summary from Stadium MK...

15 April 2023

MK Dons were denied victory by a stoppage-time leveller from Cheltenham Town in their 2-2 draw at Stadium MK.

Mark Jackson’s men looked on course for all three points courtesy of Mo Eisa’s brace, which had cancelled out Elliot Bonds’ early opener.

Jamie Cumming’s penalty save looked to be crucial too but the visitors earned themselves a share of the spoils in the seventh minute of stoppage time – Alfie May bundling home from a late cross.

A draw, the Dons’ fourth in succession, keeps them in 19th place in the Sky Bet League One table but their gap over the bottom four reduces to three with four games left to play.

Jackson made two changes from Monday’s draw at Derby County, as Jack Tucker returned to the starting XI in place of Henry Lawrence. Conor Grant also came in, as Jonathan Leko made way.

The Dons dealt with an early long throw from their visitors before working their way into the penalty area down the left - Nathan Holland, laying on for Zak Jules, who beat his man but was tackled as he went to deliver a ball across goal.

Dean Lewington was the first to register a shot, trying his luck from 20 yards out with five minutes played. His left-footed effort swerved enough to provide Luke Southwood with some concern but the Robins goalkeeper watched it over his crossbar.

That chance was followed swiftly by Cheltenham’s first attempt at goal – an ambitious strike from their top scorer, Alfie May, who saw his 25-yarder bounce wide. At the other end, just a minute later, Maghoma had a long-range drive deflected away from target. That led to a corner from which Anthony Stewart headed into the side netting.

Jackson’s men went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock in the 10th minute when Jules sent a ball across for Watson, whose first-time shot was goal-bound until it was blocked by Cheltenham’s Will Ferry. The Dons went close from the resulting corner, too, with Tucker seeing a looping header cleared off the line.

Their good start, however, was undone on 12 minutes when they were caught playing out from the back by BONDS, who was able to take the ball around Jamie Cumming and slot into an unguarded net to give the visitors an underserved early lead. 0-1.

In search of an instant response, the Dons worked the ball into Eisa inside the area but his low shot across goal was deflected wide. They then had Watson send a cross in from the right flank but Jules, up from the back, wasn’t able to get a head to it at the far post.

Jack Tucker got himself in the way of a fierce strike from Bonds as he and Cheltenham threatened a second goal from a corner. The Dons’ next chance came on the half-hour mark – a shot on the turn from Watson, 18 yards out, which flashed wide of the post.

A well-worked move down the left almost provided an opening for Jules but he was just beaten to the ball in the area by a Robins defender. From the opposite flank, Watson sent a ball in towards Eisa but saw it intercepted by Southwood.

Southwood was forced into a save by Holland in the first of two additional minutes at the end of the first half. However, there was nothing the Cheltenham keeper could do about EISA’s attempt shortly after as MK Dons drew level moments before the break.

Tucker started the move by stepping forward from the back and finding Grant with a pass through the lines. The Irishman flicked the ball around his man to Holland, whose touch took it into the path of Eisa and the MK Dons number 10 didn’t hesitate before lashing a right-footed shot past Southwood and into the bottom corner. 1-1.

Jackson’s side returned for the second half eager to build on their strong finish to the first period. They worked themselves into the area with Grant on 50 minutes but his cross into the area was blocked by a Robins defender.

Long’s sliding tackle prevented Eisa an opportunity on goal two minutes later. The visitors counted from that chance but Aidan Keena’s strike was deflected into the arms of Cumming.

Eisa had a great chance to score his second moments later but, following some excellent work by Watson in the build-up, the striker was denied one-on-one by Southwood, who did well to make himself big and deny the MK Dons number 10.

Watson was in again soon after, from Maghoma’s through pass, and this time he was unable to pick out Eisa, owing to a foul on him by Ferry inside the area.

Referee Ben Toner had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and that allowed EISA the chance to make amends for his earlier miss – which he did, sending his penalty into the top left-hand corner of the net for his second of the afternoon. 2-1.

Jackson made his first change soon after, replacing Holland with Leko in attack. That substitution came during a stoppage in play caused by what appeared to be a serious injury for Cheltenham’s James Olayinka, who was stretchered off the pitch to an ovation from both sets of supporters.

Within a minute of the game re-start, the visitors were awarded a penalty of their own following what the referee adjudged to be a foul on Keena inside the box. Cumming, though, produced a stunning penalty save to deny May and keep the Dons’ lead in tact.

Leko’s first involvement came moments later, driving down the right and delivering a low ball across to Grant who, after taking a touch, saw his attempt on goal blocked. At the other end, Tucker and Stewart combined to prevent May’s strike making through to Cumming, moments before Perry fired well wide from 20 yards.

Maghoma had an effort blocked following a mazy run into the area. There was almost an opening for Grant too but he was unable to work a shot from Jules’ cutback.

That Grant opportunity led to successive corners and Stewart got heads to both deliveries – his first was blocked behind by a defender and the second rose over the crossbar.

With four minutes left of the 90, Maghoma threw himself in the way of Brown’s try, diverting it away from goal. Keena then sent one over the top for the visitors, after finding space on the edge of the area.

Seven minutes were added on at the end of regulation, mostly due to the lengthy stoppage for Olayinka’s injury. Jackson brought Ethan Robson and Bradley Johnson on for the final four of those and their first action was to help defend a Cheltenham free-kick.

They almost saw it out too, but were undone in the final seconds by a goal from MAY, who bundled the ball over the line after Cumming had done brilliantly to keep out a header. 2-2.

MK Dons: Cumming, Watson, Lewington, Tucker, McEachran (B Johnson 90+3), Eisa (Grigg 79), Holland (Leko 64), Grant (Robson 90+3), Stewart, Jules, Maghoma.

Subs: Ravizzoli, Lawrence, Devoy.

Goal: Eisa (45+1, 59 pen)

Booked: Lewington

Cheltenham Town: Southwood, Long (Freestone 75), Bradbury (Rea 75), May, Taylor, Ferry, Jackson (Brown 82), Bonds, Keena, Broom, Olayinka (Perry 68).

Subs: MacDonald, Williams, Raglan.

Goal: Bonds (12), May (90+7)

Booked: Long

Referee: B Toner

Attendance: 6,974 (409 away)

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