Mistakes Prove Costly as MK Dons Slip to Second League Defeat

STEVENAGE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: General view inside the stadium during the Premier League 2 match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at The Lamex Stadium on September 14, 2018 in Stevenage, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

MK Dons were defeated for just the second time this weekend on Saturday as two late Stevenage goals saw them come from behind to win 3-2 at the Lamex Stadium, denying the Dons the chance to return to the top of the table. The hosts had initially taken the lead but two excellent goals from the visitors looked to have them on their way to their 11th game without defeat.

Mistakes Prove Costly as MK Dons Slip to Second League Defeat

Hosts Lead Against Run of Play

The Dons started brightly against their near-neighbours and looked the most likely to open the scoring for a lot of the first half. On-loan Cardiff striker Rhys Healey did have the ball in the net but it was narrowly ruled out for offside.

Instead, though, Stevenage were the ones to break the deadlock on one of their rare forays forward. Ben Kennedy’s cross was met with a towering header from former Dons striker Alex Revell, who ran away claiming the final touch, despite the stadium announcer crediting the goal to Steve Seddon, who looked to get a touch just before the ball crosses the line.

Stunner Draws the Visitors Level

Healey has proved to be a stellar acquisition with his tireless work ethic and goalscoring capabilities, all of which were on show on Saturday in yet another excellent performance. It was he who got the goal that brought the Dons level and it was a special strike.

A poor clearance from Ben Nugent was picked up by Mitch Hancox, making his first league start for the club due to Joe Walsh’s injury and Baily Cargill’s suspension, who played in into Jordan Houghton. Houghton was then dispossessed but the ball fell kindly for Chuks Aneke, who flicked it behind him to Healey. Healey then advanced forward and curled a stunning effort past Timothy Dieng was 25-yards and give the Dons a deserved equaliser.

In-Form Agard Strikes Again

Last time out against Macclesfield, Kieran Agard became the first player to score in four consecutive games for the club since Izale McLeod back in 2006. The in-form striker was at it again in this one as he, perhaps against the run of play, turned the game around for the Dons and gave them the lead.

Ryan Watson, on for the less-than-impressive Hancox, cut inside onto his favoured right foot and floated in a beautiful cross for the 5’8″ frame of Agard to out-jump his marker to loop a header over the outstretched arms of Dieng.

Late Mistakes Prove Costly

Stevenage piled on the pressure towards the end of the game and it felt incredibly similar to the Lincoln match back in September, the Dons’ only league loss of the season before this one – relentless pressure and a lot of last-ditch defending.

George Williams was slow to react to a ball that was played towards him and he then needlessly gave away free-kick in a dangerous position when trying to recover. The ball was played short to Michael Timlin, whose cross was floated to the back post. Revell won the header which, again, went towards Lee Nicholls in the Dons goal, but he tried to punch the low ball instead of catching it, and it went straight to the feet of Scott Cuthbert, who poked in the equaliser with just six minutes left.

A draw would have probably been a fair result but Stevenage were the better team in the second half and will feel they deserved the reward they got on the brink of stoppage time. Ryan Watson gave away another needless free-kick, this time in a scoring position.

Ben Kennedy took responsibility and fired a beauty into the top corner, just touching the underside of the crossbar as it flew past Nicholls. It was no more than Stevenage deserved for controlling the second half.

Enforced Changes Hinder the Dons

Paul Tisdale’s side were forced into two changes from what would usually be considered the full-strength side. Joe Walsh, who missed the win against Macclesfield, was out again and Baily Cargill was serving a one-match suspension for picking up five yellow cards.

This saw George Williams, Jordan Moore-Taylor and Dean Lewington make up the back three, with Callum Brittain and Mitch Hancox running the wings. The combination of Williams and Brittain on the right was used early on in the season, so has been tried and tested with good results. However, Hancox was making his first league start since joining in the summer and it was clear to see he was out of touch with the rest of his teammates.

It’s not to say that he played particularly badly but he seemed reluctant to get too far forward, something that Dean Lewington has done well this season when playing in that position. That meant a lot of the visitors’ attack came from the right, something that Stevenage were able to stifle pretty easily once they realised Hancox wasn’t going to come forward much.

Next Up

The Dons will have a chance to right their wrongs very soon as they host Morecambe on Tuesday night. Even just a point could see them return to the top of the league as they are only behind Lincoln on goal difference, but this would require the Imps to lose on their visit to Oldham Athletic.

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