REPORT: MK Dons 1-0 Exeter City: Tisdale gets the better of his former side
MK Dons continued their undefeated start to the season while ending Exeter City's after a bizarre and frantic second period at Stadium MK, winning 1-0.
After a goal-less first period, Kieran Agard had a penalty saved by Christy Pym after Dean Moxey was sent off for handball 10 minutes after the restart. But in a crazy repeat, Jordan Stokley then handled again 11 minutes later, with Agard making no mistakes this time around.
For Paul Tisdale, it was an emotional time as he took on the club he managed for 12 years, but he saw his new side jump them into second place in League 2.
Two changes were made for the visit of Exeter City from the side which started against Grimsby on Tuesday night - both of Tisdale's half time changes remained in the side as Baily Cargill and Robbie Simpson replaced Ouss Cisse and Ryan Watson. Jordan Moore-Taylor was promoted into midfield as he faced his former team-mates too, though was dubbed 'Judas' by the fans who used to cheer him.
Dons tentatively worked their way into the game, taking half an hour to really establish themselves after a bright start from the equally brightly adorned Exeter side. Baily Cargill, making his first league start for Dons, looked a revelation in the opening 45 minutes, not only keeping Lee Martin, who was an early replacement for injured Jonathan Forte, quiet, but also his eye for a pass saw Dons into some dangerous attacking positions.
Dean Lewington came closest to opening the scoring when his free kick from the edge of the box was tipped wide by Christy Pym in the Exeter net, while at the other end, Lee Nicholls was unmoved despite Lee Holmes' bending effort going just past his far post.
Dons certainly finished the half the better side, with George Williams and Callum Brittain both narrowly missing out on opening the scoring.
The game was turned on it's head 10 minutes into the second half Williams' cross was heading for Simpson, but Dean Moxey handled in the air, leaving referee Charles Breakspear with the simple job of pointing to the spot. Having already been booked, Moxey was given his marching orders, but Agard's penalty was brilliantly saved by Pym, flying to his right to deny the striker the opener.
But incredibly, it was a repeat 11 minutes later, this time with Jordan Stockley handling in the box, but he remained on the field despite referee Breakspear eager to flash the red at the striker before rescinding his own decision. Agard did not make the same mistake though, lashing the ball past Pym to open the scoring.
He should have had two already, but Agard missed from a matter of inches out in a chance as he got on the end of Moore-Taylor's header back across goal barely two minutes after he scored.
For a period after the sending off though, Exeter looked a good threat for an equaliser. Throwing caution to the wind, City piled forwards and did not let the Dons defence have a second to think or ponder on the ball. But as close as Exeter would come was a Pierce Sweeney swipe wide.
Rhys Healey, signed on loan from Cardiff City on Friday afternoon, was introduced with 18 minutes to go for his Dons debut, but much of his game was spent tracking back as the visitors remained on the front foot late on.
Referee: Charles Breakspear
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Walsh, Cargill, Lewington, Brittain (D'Ath 87), Moore-Taylor, Gilbey (Cisse 81), Houghton, Simpson (Healey 72), Agard
Subs not used: Moore, Watson, Hancox, D'Ath, Nombe, Healey
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Woodman (Abrahams 87), Arron Martin, Laws, Holmes (Croll 56), Stockley, Forte (Lee Martin 10), Moxey, Taylor, Boateng
Subs not used: Hamon, O'Shea, Tillson, Jay
Booked: Agard, Moxey, Stockley, D'Ath
Sent off: Moxey