Callum Brittain was the hero in MK Dons 1-1 Oxford United as his first senior goal rescued a point for the struggling Dons.
Former Dons winger Rob Hall, booed throughout the game by the home crowd, gave the visitors a deserved lead early on. The Dons improved after this but still trailed as they went into the break.
Brittain was a threat throughout and showed what he can do in the 60th minute by finishing well from Ed Upson’s pass.
It was a much improved performance from the Dons, especially as the game went on. A point was fair, but if they can play to that level in other games, three points would be a routine task.
MK Dons 1-1 Oxford United
MK Dons knew this was an important game after their slow start. The Dons were just one place above the relegation zone at the start of play. Oxford, on the other hand, were just outside the play-offs in seventh.
It was Oxford who started the brightest too, reflecting their superior form. Rob Hall gave them the lead after just eight minutes at Stadium MK. The former Dons winger, who chose to sign for the U’s rather than the Dons at the start of last season, curled an excellent effort beyond Lee Nicholls after a neat interchange with Jack Payne.
Oxford rarely threatened the Dons goal for the remainder of the half, however it was the lacklustre display from the hosts that left the home fans wanting more.
Gboly Ariyibi and Aaron Tshibola were both guilty of wasting numerous opportunities with mis-placed passes. Ryan Seager was also marked out of the game by Oxford’s experienced centre-backs, Mike Williamson and Dwight Tiendalli.
The Dons threatened slightly more towards the end of the half. Brittain went close soon after being brought on for the injured Ethan Ebanks-Landell. His shot across goal was saved by Eastwood, and Oxford managed to scramble the ball away.
Second Half Improvement
Whatever Robbie Neilson said to his team at half-time, it worked. The Dons were by far the better side after the break as they pushed Oxford further and further into their own half.
The pressure eventually told. In the 60th minute, 19 year-old Callum Brittain scored just the Dons’ third league goal of the season. The young right-back received Ed Upson’s pass out on the wing. He then cut inside Ricardinho on to his weaker left foot before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner. It was the youngster’s first goal for his hometown club.
Both sides had chances to win the game, too. New signing Alex Gilbey couldn’t quite place his cross well enough, and Brittain was required to perform some heroics at the back as well.
Gino van Kessel was one-on-one with Lee Nicholls, and after poking the ball around the ‘keeper, it seemed to be a certain winner for Oxford. However, Brittain kept up with him just enough to be able to poke the ball away for a corner before van Kessel’s effort could cross the line.
Scott Golbourne had the last chance to win the game, but his rising drive went just over the crossbar.
Deadline Day Signings Perform Well
All three of MK Dons’ deadline day signings made their debuts in the game. Left-back Scott Golbourne and central midfielder Alex Gilbey started, while winger Aidan Nesbitt replaced the injured Peter Pawlett after 67 minutes.
Gilbey settled into the side extremely quickly, accompanied in midfield by Ed Upson and Aaron Tshibola. He was one of the better performers in the first half, and carried on that level of performance into the second half.
His passing was slick, and he almost set up a late winner. His pull back, though, was too weak and was cleared by the Oxford defence. Gilbey signed from high-flying Wigan Athletic for an undisclosed fee.
Scott Golbourne was another new signing to go straight into the side. He arrived on a six-month loan deal from Championship outfit Bristol City. The left-back replaced Dean Lewington in the Dons line-up, and it certainly solidified that side of the pitch.
Golbourne worked well with Ariyibi and Pawlett, who were constantly switching wings. He didn’t have too much to do defensively, but looked assured in possession and his attacking mind will certainly be a benefit to the squad.
The final of the deadline day signings to feature was Aidan Nesbitt. The 20-year old arrived from Scottish champions Celtic. He never made a senior appearance for the Hoops. However, he did have loan spells at Partick Thistle and Greenock Morton. He scored three goals in 30 appearances for the latter.
As well as this, Nesbitt has played at every youth level from U17 upwards (apart from U18) for the Scottish national team. He scored once in ten appearances for the U17’s, four in six for the U19’s, four in five for the U20’s and two in two for the U21’s.
The young winger replaced Peter Pawlett after he picked up an injury in the 67th minute. The youngster looked a constant threat down the left-hand side. He managed to swing in a number of crosses, but national counterpart Robbie Muirhead was unable to get on the end of them.
A Deserved Point
In the end, a point for each team was the right result. While the Dons were much better in the second half, they didn’t do enough to win the game. There were still few efforts on target and there were still some defensive frailties on show.
The Dons move up one place thanks to their draw, level on points with Bury, Plymouth and AFC Wimbledon. The Dons travel to Plymouth next Saturday in the hunt for their second league win of the season. If this performance is anything to go by, it could be a worthwhile trip to the Pilgrims.
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