REPORT: MK Dons 1-0 Oxford United: Dons sign off pre-season with a win
Kieran Agard's second half strike sent MK Dons into their League 2 campaign in winning fashion as they beat Oxford United 1-0 on Friday night.
Agard's conversion came on 66 minutes, firing home George Williams' cross after a wonderful move started by Ryan Watson and Lawson D'Ath
The two teams played each other three times last season, with a win, a loss asnd a draw each showing how little there was between the sides. Now, a division separates them but it was very much an even keel during the first half. While the League 1 side looked in control in the opening 25 minutes, Dons grew into the affair and by the half-time whistle, were the ones playing the better football.
In an Oxford side featuring two former players and a former manager, Rob Hall combined with Samir Carruthers for the first chance of the game, but Carruthers, on loan from Sheffield United, scooped his shot high and wide of the mark.
Lee Nicholls kept a watching brief for the vast majority of the opening 45 minutes, barely needing to move as first James Henry and then Jonathan Obika took sight of goal, only to see both efforts sail harmlessly wide.
Oxford stopper Simon Eastwood remained similarly untried for much of the game, cutting out Peter Pawlett's ball destined for Kieran Agard, while watching the striker head wide from six yards.
The one concern for Paul Tisdale though was Callum Brittain hobbling off after 19 minutes after a crunching challenge from Carruthers, and was replaced by Conor McGrandles.
Joe Walsh, making a gradual return from injury, was substituted at the break while fellow treatment room-mate Alex Gilbey was handed an hour on the field. And it was Gilbey's replacement, Lawson D'Ath, at the heart of the move which saw Dons take the lead on 66 minutes. Bursting through the middle after fellow sub Ryan Watson held off two Oxford midielders, his ball out wide found George Williams, who crossed low for Agard to fire past Eastwood.
Oxford weren't without their chances in the second period, first when Jamie Mackie pulled one wide, and then when Cameron Brannagan saw an effort deflected by Oran Jackson.
Dons should have made sure of the result with three minutes to go when Robbie Muirhead played in Aidan Nesbitt, but after beating one defender, fired straight at Eastwood, who palmed the drive away.
Another late blow for Dons saw Jackson hobble off late on, with David Kasumu replacing him as Dons saw out the final few minutes.
Next up for Dons is the first game of the season, away at Oldham Athletic on Saturday August 4.