MK Dons claim a point in top-of-the-table clash with Notts County

    Image Credit: Milton Keynes Dons Football Club

    Milton Keynes Dons claimed a point against fellow promotion favourites Notts County at Stadium MK.

    In a clash of first versus second, in the sweltering 31-degree heat, nothing could separate the two sides as they both left with a deserved point after some end-to-end action in front of the 8,000 fans in attendance.

    Both sides began the match as brightly as the sun in the sky above Stadium MK, with the Dons earning an early free kick and the visitors putting pressure on the home side's defence inside the opening 10 minutes.

    Jonathan Leko was involved in a couple of positive periods of play, taking on the Notts County defence after a clearance from Daniel Harvie, and later setting up Harvie for a cross into the box, though the ball could not find any Dons shirts.

    The visitors came close to opening the scoring shortly after the first water break of the match, with a high ball lofted into the Dons box, with Sam Austin's connecting header narrowly seeing it sail over the bar.

    A great passage of play by the Dons went unrewarded as Ethan Robson's cross through the box was unable to reach any of the Dons players trying to get involved. The play began with an outlet pass to Leko, who threaded in Max Dean before the young striker passed out to Robson, with the ball sailing through the box and going out for a goal kick.

    Alex Gilbey came to the Dons' rescue minutes later, throwing his body in the way of a John Bostock shot inside the box, with a lapse in defensive cover allowing the visitors a free cross into the home side's area.

    Robson had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring for the Dons, picking up a perfect pass from Leko with acres of space on the edge of the box, only to lift his shot over the bar with less than 10 minutes remaining in the half.

    Max Dean's sliced shot almost opened the scoring after it deflected heavily off a County defender moments later, forcing Stone into making a save he likely was not expecting and earning the home side a corner.

    Shortly before half-time, the visitors came agonisingly close to scoring the first goal of the game as Aaron Nemane's low cross found Macaulay Langstaff just yards out from goal. The ball reached its target but his outstretched leg could only send the ball up into the air and over the bar, much to the Dons' relief.

    The visitors had a threatening free kick position right before the end of the half, with Bostock's effort to cross into the box blocked by Max Dean and the ensuing clearance sending the game into the half-time break

    The Dons opened the second half in perfect fashion as Daniel Harvie scored to give them a 1-0 lead after just over one minute of play.

    Ethan Robson passed the ball out to Harvie on the left and the Scottish defender raced forward into the box, opting to go it alone with a simple, strong strike from halfway inside the penalty area, beating Stone and putting the home side ahead.

    Stone came rushing out of his area in an attempt to clear the ball, but saw his effort fall at the feet of Alex Gilbey. He tried to pay the calls to shoot in kind but saw his effort blocked just inside the County half.

    Dean had a solid solo run that came close to extending the Dons' lead, with the young striker skipping past a defender and getting a low shot on target, forcing Stone to push the ball out wide. Robson then retrieved the ball inside the area and won his side a corner with his own effort., 

    Gilbey let fly a beautiful long-range effort, seeing his surprise shot go narrowly wide. Shortly after, the visitors had a period of control that saw them get the ball into the box multiple times from wide positions, putting the Dons under serious pressure.

    During this period, Kyle Cameron had a volleyed effort from outside the box but sliced his shot and saw it go wide of the mark. The visitors continued their relentless pursuit, however and Cameron earned himself a goal, bringing the score to 1-1.

    Buoyed by their goal, the visitors continued to dominate possession and put pressure on the Dons defence. The Dons were forced to deal with a dangerous long-range cross into the box, sending it out for a corner which was taken quickly and was also cleared from danger.

    Against the run of play, the Dons were able to get another chance off towards goal, with Jack Payne hitting a strike on the edge of the box, seeing his effort go wide.

    Former Don Aden Baldwin let fly a strong shot on goal from outside the box, but MacGillivray had it covered and held firm, keeping things level entering the final five minutes.

    With seven minutes of added time, County won a free kick on the edge of the Dons area. Fortunately for the home side, it went harmlessly wide and the score remained 1-1.

    The visitors looked to have scored a second as a long ball into the box found the head of Langstaff, MacGillivray managed to get a leg to it to make a superb save, with the Dons then going down the other end and winning a corner.

    Ellis Harrison then came agonisingly close to scoring moments later as Gilbey's ball into the box picked him out around the six-yard box, but his effort flew high over the crossbar.

    A Notts County free kick deep in the Dons half was to be the final action of the match, with MacGillivray claiming the ball calmly and holding onto it as the referee blew the full-time whistle.

    The result sees both Dons and County slip to fourth and second respectively as other results around the league sees Gillingham and Mansfield claim first and third for the time being.

    The Dons face Stockport County at Stadium MK next Saturday, with plenty of positives coming from this game to show that the Dons should be competing at the very top end of the table.

    MK Dons Line-Up: MacGillivray, Norman, Tucker, O'Hora, Smith, Harvie (66' Tomlinson), Gilbey, Robson, Devoy (66' Payne), Leko (66' Harrison), Dean (78' Eisa)

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