REPORT: MK Dons 1-1 Oxford: Thrilling encounter ends honours even

Match report
Match report

Callum Brittain came off the substitutes bench to net a stunning equaliser, earning Dons an important point against Oxford United on Saturday.

Brittain was a first half replacement for injured Ethan Ebanks-Landell, and cancelled out Rob Hall's eighth minute strike which had put Oxford into the lead.

Scott Golbourne made his debut

Scott Golbourne made his debut

Slightly lacklustre in the first half, Dons were by far the better in the second, though finished the game without Robbie Neilson in their dugout - sent off after an argument with the fourth official.

Two of Robbie Neilson's three deadline day signings went straight into the starting 11 against Oxford. Scott Golbourne and Alex Gilbey were handed debuts as the side featured seven summer signings. The other signing, Aidan Nesbitt, was among the substitutes. In the absence of Dean Lewington, George Williams donned the captain's armband.

While all eyes were on the new boys, it was a former Dons man who would play the pantomime villain, and indeed give Oxford the lead after eight minutes. Despite being on loan from Bolton at the time, Rob Hall made full use of the MK Dons medical staff when recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury last summer, but at the 11th hour, opted for a move back to the Kassam Stadium.

Typically then, it was Hall who finish off a great passage of one-touch passing, bending the ball from the edge of the box past Lee Nicholls' dive.

Alex Gilbey also made his first start

Alex Gilbey also made his first start

After promising signs early in the game of Dons' attacking drive, they quickly fell away after Hall's goal. Unable to keep the ball in the attacking third, it was Oxford who looked the most likely to add to their tally, with Hall and Jon Obika the key orchestrators.

There were glimmers towards the end of the half though. Good balls into the mixer from Golbourne and Peter Pawlett created chances for both Ryan Seager and Aaron Tshibola though neither could test keeper Simon Eastwood.

Both sides were dealt first half injury blows too as Dwight Tiendalli and Ethan Ebanks-Landell hobbled off before the end of the first period. Ebanks-Landell's replacement, Callum Brittain, did finally get to test the Oxford keeper when he barrelled into the box, his shot causing confusion in the Oxford defence, but Seager wasn't able to convert the loose ball.

Brittain would have his moment though, scoring his first goal for the club on the hour to bring Dons back level. Brilliantly beating Ricardinho, Brittain burst into the box and bent the ball left footed around Eastwood.

From there, Dons were in the ascendency. Looking distinctly different to the first half, they were attacking and went after a goal which would win them the game. Driven on by the excellent Upson, new signings Scott Golbourne and substitute Aidan Nesbitt formed an exciting partnership on the left and were getting a bit of joy on the flank, making life difficult for U's skipper Christian Ribeiro. Alex Gilbey wasn't shy of taking aim either, but his radar was out of kilter for much of the afternoon.

The final 10 minutes would be a thrilling, end-to-end battle, but Dons would have to see out the final five minutes and stoppage time without Robbie Neilson in the dugout after he was sent to the stands after an altercation with the fourth official.

And the visitors would have a great chance to win it in the final minute too when Obika broke clear of the Dons defence, and with Gino Van Kessel up with him, opted to go alone but sent his strike high into the Oxford fans behind the goal.

Referee: Dean Whitestone

Attendance: 10,746 (2,924)

MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Wootton, Ebanks-Landell (Brittain 35), Golbourne, Upson, Gilbey, Pawlett (Nesbitt 67), Ariyibi, Tshibola, Seager (Muirhead 60)

Subs not used: Siestma, Lewington, Cisse, Nombe

Oxford United: Eastwood, Ribiero, Tiendalli (Martin 28), Williamson, Hall (Van Kessel 73), Ledson, Payne, Henry (Ruffels 80), Rothwell, Obika, Ricardinho

Subs not used: Shearer, Thomas, Fernandez, Carroll

Booked: Upson, Ricardinho