Dons’ dead-ball dilemma must be addressed during the break

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Dons conceded from a set-piece once again at Oxford

John Mousinho’s 88th minute header for Oxford United was probably the U’s fourth or fifth best chance of the game but frustratingly from an MK Dons perspective came from an area they have been weak for a while now.

Each of the last eight goals Dons have conceded have all been from set-pieces - be it from the penalty spot or from free-kicks pitched into the penalty area to cause issue. Bolton twice, Exeter, Cheltenham twice, Accrington Stanley and Port Vale have all found the back of the net from dead ball situations.

And for Liam Manning, the solution should be an easy one.

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“Just don’t give them away,” he said after late Oxford goal made life less comfortable in the closing stages at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday. “From the sidelines it was hard to watch. It was another set-piece, and we have got to get better at defending those.

“If you’re disciplined with your defending, are calm and composed, and don’t give free-kicks away you defend less. We’ll have to get some work in on how to defend them better but to make sure we don’t give away cheap fouls away.”

Perhaps somewhat fortunate not to give away another penalty in stoppage time too when the ball hit Josh Kayode’s arm as he shaped to clear, Dons’ Matt Smith said working on defending set-pieces is something they have highlighted as a key area to improve.

He said: “It's always disappointing to concede from a set-piece. We've spoken about it a lot, especially after Bolton, and we're trying to work on it.

“But we've got time now to look at the last few games back, work hard in training and work on things.

“And after this result, it'll make that better.”

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