Notts County 0-1 Dons: Wasteful Dons make life hard

Match report
Match report

Dons wasted a whole host of chances but did just enough to secure a 1-0 win over Notts County on Boxing Day.

Daniel Powell’s first half tap in was enough to separate the two sides, but Dons should have been home and hosed after missed chances, most notably from Benik Afobe, Carl Baker and Dean Lewington, while Dele Alli hit the post in stoppage time.

There were two changes to the side which started in last week’s 7-0 thrashing of Oldham - Samir Carruthers was replaced by Daniel Powell on the left flank, while Benik Afobe came in to replace Will Grigg up front.

The opening 15 minutes was far from an attractive watch from either side, with a lot of long balls and misplaced passes. Former MK Dons man Alan Smith was orchestrating the show for the home side, reacquainting himself with Dele Alli within the opening minutes with a trademark challenge which saw the pair share a quick chuckle before getting up and back on with it.

Neither side really tested the opposing goalkeeper, but Daniel Powell did round veteran stopper Roy Carroll, but came a cropper, taking the ball too far wide, allowing the County defence to usher him out for a corner.

After the messy opening, Dons began to get on top and looked a far more familiar sight. Carl Baker and Jordan Spence were enjoying a lot of freedom on the right flank, while Dean Bowditch was seeing a lot of the ball in behind Afobe. Chances though remained at premium.

It was going to take something special, or something bizarre, to separate the sides - and for Dons, it was the latter on the half hour mark. Baker’s mis-touch on halfway threw the County midfield and space opened out in front of him. Sliding in Afobe, the ball got stuck under his feet and as he stumbled, Powell was on hand to tap past Carroll to open the scoring.

County could have been level within five minutes though, but David Martin just got his finger tips to Blair Adams’ low drive from the left.

Back at the other end, Dons could have been further in front with Baker’s late dipping effort, while Dean Lewington should have done better from Bowditch’s cross, heading over from inside six yards.

County should have been level within three minutes of the restart though. Slid in behind by Colby Bishop, Ronan Murray had the whole goal to aim at, but fired straight at Martin as the frustration among the home supporters began to grow.

It could have been worse for them too, as a minute later, Baker’s low ball into the mix evaded everyone, including Afobe who had ghosted in at the far post, and put his foot over it, rather than through it.

Dons should have been home and hosed when they caught County on the break five minutes later. Racing through on to Baker’s pass, Bowditch held it until Spence could overlap, but Carroll was a match for the defender’s strike.

The visitors felt they were denied a stonewall penalty when Afobe was cleaned out Hayden Mullins on the left-hand edge of the area - referee Andrew Madley was unmoved, as he was on most occasions where Dons were concerned.

Chances continued to come and go for the visitors, but there simply wasn’t enough end product to trouble Carroll. The best chance of the bunch fell to Baker 11 minutes from time, but incredibly shot wide when laid in by Afobe.

While County rarely threatened, Dons’ frustrations continued at the other end, with Alli striking the base of the post as the second goal continued to evade them.

Fortunately for Robinson, his side didn’t need the second and were able to celebrate at the full time whistle, remaining second in the table.

Referee: Andrew Madley

Attendance: 5,897 (645)

Notts County: Carroll, Adams, Smith (Jones 72), Mullins, Hollis, Murray (Cassidy 57), Thompson, Traore, Edwards, Bishop (Whitehouse 72), McLaughlin

Subs not used: Pilkington, Dumbuya, Harrad, Hall

MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Potter, Alli, Baker (Carruthers 87), Powell (Green 81), Bowditch (Grigg 81), Afobe

Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanangan, Randall, Baldock

Booking: McLaughlin