REPORT: MK Dons 0-0 Oxford United
A thrilling first meeting between MK Dons and Oxford United ended goal-less at Stadium MK on Saturday.
Both sides would have felt they'd done enough to win it, with Dons keeper David Martin making a string of good stops, while Kieran Agard will be kicking himself for squandering two or three excellent chances when put clean through on goal.
For the first time this season, Karl Robinson named an unchanged side for the visit of Oxford. Kieran Agard led the line ahead of Ben Reeves, and Ryan Colclough, who scored against Bolton last Saturday, made his third start since signing on loan from Wigan on transfer deadline day.
It was a breathless start from both sides, with both feeling they could have taken the lead inside the opening 15 minutes with Kieran Agard almost rounding Simon Eastwood only to see his effort cleared by Cheyenne Dunkley, before Wes Thomas drew a brave save from David Martin at the other end when he was picked out by Liam Sercombe from the right. Thomas' involvement though would see him hobble off injured.
Both sides were struggling with the final ball, with the centre backs very much winning the day. At one end, Paul Downing and Joe Walsh were being kept on their toes by lively substitute Ryan Taylor, while long balls over the top for Agard to chase were certainly the order of the day for Dons but he was coming unstuck by the solid looking Dunkley.
Darren Potter probably should have done better 10 minutes before the break when he ghosted in front of Phil Edwards to meet Ed Upson's corner, getting the deftest of flicks on it, but Eastwood was well placed to get behind it and deny the home side an opener.
The second half started in an equally breathless manner, with both sides flowing from end-to-end with pace and vigeur. Potter was portraying a bug physical presence in the heart of the midfield, but played his side into trouble when he left his back-pass to Martin short, forcing the keeper to get a hand to it as Taylor lurked dangerously, giving away the in-direct free kick inside the box. Fortunately for Potter though, his midfield partner Upson bailed him out, deflecting Chris Maguire's shot over the top.
Ryan Colclough was Dons' biggest threat in the second half, twice popping off efforts towards Eastwood's goal, but having been ill in the build-up was withdrawn for Samir Carruthers to come on, but the vital move just didn't come off for the home side.
Oxford's chances were few and far between, but more often than not had Martin earning his money for the afternoon, and the Dons keeper had to be very alert to keep out Marvin Johnson's effort through a crowd of players. He made another good stop to deny Sercombe when he was presented the ball by Downing's poor ball, tipping the fierce strike just over the top.
Referee Lee Probert was letting a lot go, dishing out only one yellow card with some crunching tackles flying in, but did nothing when Agard broke clear of the Oxford defence, but appearing to be clipped by Phil Edwards, but nothing was given by the referee.
Dons though had to wait until stoppage time for their best chances to snatch it. First, Agard burst away from the defence to latch on to Potter's splitting pass and had to do better as Eastwood raced off his line to get something on it. Then, with the last chance of the game, substitute GC Williams ghosted in at the far post to meet Dean Lewington's cross, but somehow found the side netting as both sides had to settle for a draw.
Referee: Lee Probert
MK Dons: Martin, Baldock, Downing, Walsh, Lewington, Potter, Upson, Bowditch, Colclough (Carruthers 64), Reeves (GC Williams 69), Agard
Subs not used: Nicholls, GB Williams, Hendry, Tshimanga, Maynard
Oxford United: Eastwood, Skarz, Lundstram (Ledson 78), Sercombe, Thomas (Taylor 17), Maguire, Edwards, Rothwell, Raglan, Johnson (MacDonald 89), Dunkley
Subs not used: Buchel, Crowley, Ruffels, Taylor, Roberts