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Report: Mansfield Town 1-2 MK Dons

MK Dons put on an impressive away display to beat the league leaders…

5 March 2024

Match Reports

Report: Mansfield Town 1-2 MK Dons

MK Dons put on an impressive away display to beat the league leaders…

5 March 2024

MK Dons came from behind to beat Mansfield Town thanks to goals from Alex Gilbey and Matt Dennis after Stephen Quinn netted the opener for the Stags following a missed Lucas Akins penalty.

MJ Williams had a handball call go against him after just 14 minutes to give Mansfield a penalty,  Michael Kelly saved the spot-kick and the rebound but couldn’t keep Stephen Quinn out at the third time of asking.

Five minutes later Alex Gilbey equalised with a sensational strike from 25 yards after a penetrating run, with Matt Dennis scoring on his first start since October to win it for the Dons in the second half thanks to a curled finish from just outside the box.

Mike Williamson made two changes to the side that played on Saturday with MJ Williams and Matt Dennis coming into the starting XI in place of Cameron Norman and Stephen Wearne.

Wearne also dropped out of the squad as the result of an injury he picked up at the weekend, and was replaced by Dean Lewington returning from a two-match suspension.


MK Dons started brightly in Nottinghamshire, Alex Gilbey provided an early test for the Mansfeld defence with an attacking run from midfield, he played a ball through to Matt Dennis on the edge of the box but the striker struggled to control it and the Stags managed to clear.

Kyran Lofthouse found himself involved in an MK Dons attack after eight minutes, the wing-back picked the ball up on the halfway line before making another dangerous run towards the Stags’ area, but his shot from the edge of the box was just wide of Christy Pym’s goal.

Moments later Mansfield had their first real attack of the game, Lucas Akins managed to wrestle his way away from the Dons’ defence and get a shot off from just outside the box, but Michael Kelly was equal to it.

Looking to build some momentum the Dons strung together another attack, this time thanks to Jack Payne. The midfielder found Joe Tomlinson with a clever ball out wide, the defender controlled it well but his cross into the area was deflected away from any players in white shirts.

On the 15-minute mark Mansfield Town were awarded a penalty by referee Lee Swabey after MJ Williams was deemed to have handled the ball in the area.

Lucas Akins stepped up to take it but was brilliantly denied by Michael Kelly in the Dons’ net down to his left-hand side.

The Irish goalkeeper did fantastically well to pull off a double save and keep the rebound out as well before Stephen Quinn crashed the ball home from close range at the third attempt. 1-0.

Just five minutes later MK Dons had equalised!

Alex Gilbey took advantage of the space vacated by Mansfield in the middle of the park to start another direct run towards the Stags’ area before thundering the ball past Pym from 25 yards to equalise. 1-1.

MK Dons continued to build pressure as the half progressed, Warren O’Hora rose highest to meet a Jack Payne cross but couldn’t generate enough power on the header to trouble Pym.

After half an hour Mansfield thought they had a chance to regain the lead, Akins volleyed over from very close range but was spared any blushes when the assistant referee blew for offside.

Akins was involved again eight minutes later, the forward found himself with time on the edge of the Dons’ area but scuffed his shot well wide.

Matt Dennis had a great chance for the Dons just moments later, Alex Gilbey continued to cause the Stags problems with another threatening run into the box, his shot was then deflected into the path of the striker who headed goalwards but couldn’t quite find the target.

In the first minute of first-half stoppage time, Baily Cargill was booked for a cynical foul on Kyran Lofthouse who was bearing down on the Mansfield goal.

Jack Payne fired the resulting free-kick into the box but couldn’t find an MK Dons player to meet it.

An entertaining first half at the One Call Stadium ended level, with everything to play for in the second 45. 


Alex Gilbey started the second half as energetically as he finished the first. The Dons’ captain did well to wrestle the ball away from his marker in midfield before flicking a ball through to the advancing Joe Tomlinson. The wing-back controlled the ball with a deft header before lashing the ball fractionally wide of the top left-hand corner of Christy Pym’s goal.

An error from the Dons at the back gave Mansfield the chance to shoot from close range a few moments later, but Michael Kelly stood up well to pull off another valuable save.

With five minutes gone of the second-half Matt Dennis was booked for a late challenge on Baily Cargill on the half-way line.

Will Swan was on the end of a fantastic ball for Mansfield a few minutes later, the forward thought he had time to pick his spot but was well marshalled by MJ Williams who managed to nick the ball off his toes in the penalty area.

With ten minutes played of the second-half the Dons look the lead!

Alex Gilbey did well to find Matt Dennis in an attacking position in the Mansfield half, the forward then shimmied his way past his marker to find space to curl a shot into the bottom right-hand corner from distance and put MK Dons in front. 1-2.

Not long afterwards the Dons could have had a third when Kyran Lofthouse played in Jack Payne after another attacking run. The midfielder then squared the ball to Alex Gilbey who couldn’t connect cleanly, the ricocheted ball then fell to Payne again, but the Dons’ number 11 fired his shot over.

On 62 minutes Mike Williamson made his first changes of the evening, Matt Dennis and Dan Kemp were replaced by Ellis Harrison and Emre Tezgel.

MK Dons continued to take the game to Mansfield as the clock ticked down, Ellis Harrison demonstrated some great hold-up play to lay the ball off to Joe Tomlinson on the edge of the area, but the wing-back curled his shot over the bar. 

Lofthouse was again involved for the Dons on 77 minutes winning a corner, Jack Payne played a lofted ball in towards Emre Tezgel from the set-piece but the Mansfield defence managed to clear. 

Mansfield had a corner themselves two minutes later, the ball into the box fell to former MK Dons midfielder Hiram Boateng who stabbed goalwards from close range only to be brilliantly blocked by Joe Tomlinson.  

Tomlinson then managed to block another couple of attempts from close-range in a goalmouth scramble before the Dons eventually managed to steer the ball clear.

Another double change for MK Dons came in the final ten minutes, with MJ Williams and Jack Payne making way for Cameron Norman and Ethan Robson.

Alex Gilbey continued to look lively in the dying moments of the game, Ellis Harrison held the ball up well again in the Stags’ area before laying the ball off to the Dons’ captain who was arriving to his left, Gilbey then blasted a shot towards the top-right hand corner to force a good save from Pym.

Mansfield had a corner in the final minute of stoppage time but Ellis Harrison headed it away to secure a valuable away win for MK Dons. 

MK Dons: Kelly, O’Hora, Williams (Norman 82), Gilbey, Payne (Robson 82), Tomlinson, Harvie, Kemp (Tezgel 62), Lofthouse, Dennis (Harrison 62), Bate 

Subs: Harness, Lewington, Tripp

Goals: Gilbey 20, Dennis 54

Yellow cards: Dennis 49

Mansfield Town: Pym, Cargill (McLaughlin 62), Akins (Maris 70), Bowery, Flint, Lewis (Clarke 62), Quinn (Boateng 70), Brunt, Reed, Swan (Nichols 62), Keillor-Dunn

Subs: Flinders, Williams

Goals: Quinn 15

Yellow cards: Cargill 45+1

Referee: Lee Swabey

Stadium: One Call Stadium

Attendance: 7,414 (370)

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