Rhys Healey was credited with the winner for MK Dons as they marked their return to League One with a win over Shrewsbury Town. Healey, returning to the club after his loan spell in the first half of last season, entered the pitch in place of Jordan Bowery after 72 minutes, and it was another returning player in Ben Reeves who provided the assist for the 93rd-minute strike. The goal had more than a little fortune about it, however, with the curling effort being headed past Max O’Leary by former Dons defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell.
Rhys Healey Marks MK Dons Return With Late Winner Against Shrewsbury Town
The Dons were starting their season a week later than the rest of the pack due to the suspension of their fixture against Bury last week. It was clear early on, too, that the hosts were a little off the boil. Expectedly, they looked solid at the back, but going forward they lacked sharpness. Kieren Agard, in particular, was largely a passenger in the first half, while debutant Jordan Bowery looked slightly more on it and saw an effort whistle narrowly over the bar.
That attempt from Bowery was the closest either side really came in a largely uneventful opening period. Both sides set out with a five-at-the-back formation and both did their jobs in cancelling each other out.
The visiting Shrews had just one effort on target in the whole game, and how they didn’t take the lead from it is still a mystery to many at the ground. Ryan Giles found it too easy to beat Callum Brittain down the Dons’ right and he crossed for Dave Edwards. His effort came off the underside of the crossbar and bounced to safety off the head of the unknowing goalkeeper Lee Nicholls, much to the visitors’ frustration.
It would have been harsh on Paul Tisdale’s side if they were to have conceded then, as they defended resolutely throughout the game. Russell Martin was particularly impressive, winning almost every cross that came within his vicinity and showing the immense experience that he possesses.
MK Dons could have taken the lead themselves with only six minutes left on the clock, but they were denied what looked to be a stonewall penalty when Joe Walsh was bundled over in the box. Referee Brett Huxtable, though, found nothing wrong and allowed play to continue.
The Rhys Healey Effect
Before today, Healey’s last game for the club was the 6-0 win over Cambridge United in January. He returned to parent club Cardiff City for the remainder of the season, even making a handful of cameos in the Premier League for the Bluebirds.
For fellow debutant Ben Reeves, it was a return two years in the making. He left the club at the end of the 2016/17 season after four campaigns in Milton Keynes, joining former boss Karl Robinson at Charlton Athletic.
Both returns were greeted with excitement from the fans, and they were the two who combined to provide the winning goal in the 93rd-minute, albeit with the help of another former Dons player.
Reeves’ neat into the box found Healey who cut inside two defenders before sending an effort goalwards. Had it been left, it probably would have curled harmlessly wide or into the grateful hands of O’Leary. However, Ebanks-Landell, who spent 2017/18 on loan at Stadium MK from Wolverhampton Wanderers, diverted the ball into the opposite corner to finally break the deadlock.
MK Dons visit AFC Wimbledon in the first round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night. They then face a rivalry game against fellow Buckinghamshire side Wycome Wanderers, a team they haven’t come up against since 2012.