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Match Reports

Report: MK Dons 2-2 Barrow

14 October 2023

Match Reports

Report: MK Dons 2-2 Barrow

14 October 2023

MK Dons were denied victory at Stadium MK as two stoppage-time goals saw them draw 2-2 with Barrow.

A brace from Max Dean had the Dons in a commanding position entering the 90th minute but late strikes from Ben Whitfield and Emile Acquah saw the visitors snatch a point and deny Graham Alexander’s men a first victory in eight.

Head Coach Alexander made five changes to his starting XI with Tommy Smith among those re-introduced to the line-up after being recalled from international duty with New Zealand. The other four fresh faces to the team were Jack Tucker, Ellis Harrison, Ethan Robson and Max Dean, the latter making only his second career league start.

It was the visitors who registered the first shot on goal, four minutes in. It came after a corner was played short to Robbie Gotts, whose low drive was saved comfortably by Craig MacGillivray.

The Dons then tried their luck from range courtesy of a Jack Payne strike which Paul Farman just managed to keep out. Their next shot, however, would get past Farman as they took the lead with 12 minutes played.

Robson started things off with a drop of the shoulder to get past his man. He then found Cameron Norman, whose cross fell perfectly onto the chest of DEAN. The striker had his back to goal but still fancied his chances and he made the right choice, squeezing his shot on the turn past the outstretched arm of Farman, with the help of a slight deflection. 1-0.

Smith got his body in the way of Ged Garner’s fierce strike as the visiting side searched for an equaliser in the 17th minute. Sam Foley managed to get an attempt away shortly after but his effort was watched over the crossbar by MacGillivray.

The goalkeeper was able to get behind Dean Campbell’s effort from distance midway through the first half. The Dons then went straight up the opposite end of the pitch, with Payne working a shooting chance for Harrison, who fired off target.

Gotts went close for Barrow after a driving run through the middle of the park, though his eventual shot was sent high above the target. Moments later, there a free header for Garner but, fortunately for the Dons, MacGillivray was in the right place to save.

Just before the half-hour mark, Norman and Gilbey combined down the right, with the latter delivering a low cross towards Harrison. The striker was sliding in to meet the delivery but Farman did well to dive out of his goal and intercept.

The Dons were forced to defend a corner with 10 minutes to play in the first half, with MacGillivray eventually coming up with a big claim to deal with a return ball in. He then immediately set his side on their way to their second goal.

Norman was the man he released down– the full-back carried the ball deep into the Barrow half before playing a ball through to Gilbey, over had over-lapped him down the right flank.

Gilbey’s cross was met by Harrison, whose effort on goal was blocked by a sliding defender. The loose ball fell to DEAN and while his initial shot was saved, the young striker followed things up and, as Farman could only parry, he was able to run on and head home a second goal from close range. 2-0.

Dean went close to completing a remarkable first-half hat-trick but, after being found by Gilbey’s cut-back, he saw his shot on goal blocked by a defender. He had another attempt blocked moments later, before MJ Williams followed up with a half-volley which was headed away from the target.

In the first of four stoppage-time minutes at the end of the first 45, Robson delivered a ball into the area. Harrison was the target but he wasn’t able to bring the ball under control when well-placed inside the area.

That proved to be the final meaningful action of the first half. At the start of the second, Emile Acquah worked his way into the MK Dons penalty area but his effort deflected off Norman and up into the arms of MacGillivray.

MacGillivray came up trumps again on 48 minutes, getting down well to his right to prevent Elliot Newby’s header sneaking inside the near post. Shortly after, a free-kick by half-time substitute Ben Whitfield was blocked by MJ Williams. Smith also produced a block to prevent Acquah’s shot from getting through to MacGillivray.

It took until the 64th minute for the Dons to have their first shot of the second period – a 20-yard effort from Harrison, cutting in from the left, which was too close to Furman to trouble him.

MacGillivray was called into action again moments later, getting fingertips to Gotts’ strike from inside the area, tipping it over the crossbar. He was then behind Whitfield’s long-range strike, shortly after the Dons made their first change of the afternoon - Warren O’Hora on to replace Payne.

There was almost a chance for Harrison to extend the Dons’ lead to three on 68 minutes but the striker was just a yard away from connecting with Tomlinson’s low cross. A fantastic cross-field pass from Tomlinson to Norman then provided the full-back with a chance to deliver into the area but, after beating his man, the cross in for Dean was intercepted.

With just over quarter of an hour remaining, Acquah headed wide for Barrow. Alexander then went to his bench for a second time, handing Callum Tripp his league debut in place of Robson with 11 minutes left to play.

Tripp was the target of Dean’s cross a minute after his introduction, after the MK Dons striker had beaten the offside trap down the left flank. A vital interception from James Chester prevented the teenager from being able to get a shot away.

With seven minutes remaining, Tomlinson tried his luck at adding a third from distance but couldn’t keep his left-footed strike down. At the other end, Campbell saw a 20-yard attempt deflect wide of MacGillivray’s right post.

Acquah, from close range, wasn’t able to convert from the corner which followed. Shortly after the game moved into stoppage-time, of which were there six added minutes for the Dons to see through.

Gilbey went for goal in the second of the six, hoping to extend the lead to an insurmountable three goals. That advantage was cut to one moments later through WHITFIELD, who found the net from close range after a cross in from the right. 2-1.

The Dons broke forward with two minutes to play, looking to immediately restore their two-goal lead. Dean, though, on a hat-trick, wasn’t able to find the target with his shot.

Then, heatbreak, as ACQUAH levelled the scores in the final seconds, firing home from the edge of the area after the Dons failed to properly deal with a long ball forwards from the back. 2-2.

MK Dons: MacGillivray, Norman, Tucker, Williams, Gilbey, Harrison, Payne (O’Hora 68), Tomlinson, Smith, Robson (Tripp 79), Dean.

Subs: Kelly, Eisa, Ilunga, Devoy, Dennis.

Goals: Dean (12, 35)

Booked: Robson, Norman

Barrow: Farman, Campbell, Canavan, Garner (Tiensia 46 (Worrall 54)), Newby, Gotts (Telford 67), Foley (White 78), Chester, Stephenson (Whitfield 46), Acquah, Feely.

Subs: Lillis.

Goals: Whitfield (90+3), Acquah (90+5)

Booked: Farman, Gotts

Referee: W Finnie

Attendance: 5,725 (278 away)

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