Dons survive a late scare to pick up victory over Oxford United

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Oxford United 1-2 MK Dons

MK Dons survived a late scare at Oxford United to claim a vital three points at the Kassam Stadium, winning 2-1 on Saturday.

After three defeats in a row, Matt Smith’s deflected effort gave the visitors the lead four minutes before the interval, just moments after Oxford had twice hit the frame of goal.

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Dons did well to frustrate the hosts through the second half, and looked to have secured the points with six minutes to go when Will Grigg fired in a penalty he had won.

But John Mousinho, who diverted Smith’s effort past his keeper earlier, then headed Oxford back into it with a minute remaining to set up a tense finale.

Oxford felt they should have had a penalty in injury time too when the ball struck Josh Kayode’s arm, but it was Dons who would hold on for the points and a much-needed win to lift them out of the relegation zone.

After the disappointing defeat to Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night, Manning made three changes to his side, handing Josh McEachran his first start since the opening day of the season, while reintroducing Dean Lewington and Conor Grant at the expense of Bradley Johnson, Zak Jules and Will Grigg.

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After a lively opening five minutes to the game, which saw both sides start brightly, the affair quickly dwindled in quality. Neither side had made the start to the season they had wanted, and the sides butted heads especially in a tight and congested midfield making for, at times, an ugly affair.

It also meant chances were almost non-existant for either side but with four minutes to go before the half-time interval, the game burst into life. Marcus Browne had danced his way into the penalty area and shown a clean set of heels to the Dons defence but Jamie Cumming made himself big to put off the Oxford man, as he fired against the post. The rebound fell into the path of Cameron Brannagan who looked set to fire Oxford in front, but saw his effort thud the still-rattling frame of the goal as well.

From there, Dons went straight up the other end to take the lead. Matt Smith was slid in down the right side of the goal, and from a tight angle fired across the face of goal and saw his effort hit the sliding John Mousinho and into the back of the net.

The second half followed a similar pattern as the first - a gritty and scrappy affair. Joseph should have equalised six minutes after the restart when it was put on a plate for him by Marcus McGuane, but he missed the ball when a touch would have put it past Cumming.

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Dons though were just doing enough to keep Oxford at bay, and with it frustrating the home fans behind the goal as they ran down the clock. And they looked to have it all wrapped up when Will Grigg, who was a late change for Conor Grant, was upended by keeper Simon Eastwood in the box to secure his side a spot kick, which he duly dispatched with six minutes to go.

But Dons would not see out the game the easy way, with Mousinho heading in with two minutes to go to pull one back for Oxford and make for a nervous finale. And nervous it was, with Josh Kayode, a half-time change, appeared to handle from one of a number of late Oxford corners as the host piled forwards to no avail.

The win lifts Dons above Robinson’s side and up to 18th spot.

Referee: Andrew Kitchen

Attendance: 8,141 (715)

Oxford United: Eastwood, Long, Findlay (Goodrham 63), Bodin (Bate 63), Brannagan, Browne, Mousinho, Brown, Henry, McGuane, Joseph (O'Donkor 78)

Subs not used: McGinty, Gorrin, Anderson, Seddon

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MK Dons: Cumming, Lewington, O'Hora, Tucker, Harvie, Oyegoke, McEachran (Johnson 66), Smith, Devoy, Grant (Grigg 77), Dennis (Kayode 46)

Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Lawrence, Jules, Grigg, Burns

Booked: McEachran

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