Boro and Dons face First Round replay

Defences on top as Stevenage record third blank in four games

Stevenage 0 MK Dons 0

FA Cup First Round

STEVENAGE and MK Dons will meet again in a week’s time after their goalless stalemate on Saturday afternoon.

Boro registered their fourth clean sheet in succession, but at the other end poor finishing cost the hosts victory as they failed to find the back of the net for the third match in four.

Ben May started up front for Stevenage in the lone striker role and although he is still finding his way back to full fitness put in a good shift, but Boro lacked the movement and pace up front - which cup-tied Chris Holroyd offers - to draw defenders out of the game to make the space for the runs from midfield.

The centre of the park was therefore congested with Lawrie Wilson, Jay O’Shea and Stacy Long unable to have any influence on the match and when Boro’s midfielders were able to get on the ball they were restricted to long-range efforts which Dons ‘keeper David Martin was more than equal to.

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Long had Stevenage’s best effort of the game on five minutes. O’Shea played a ball down the left and inside the full-back which Scott Laird collected and took into the box.

Looking up he pulled the ball back into the centre of the penalty area and May, seeing Long in space behind him, stepped over the ball and the midfielder followed up but hit his effort straight at Martin.

The opening exchanges promised much, but promises often count for little and the game petered out with both midfields becoming bogged down in a uninspiring half.

Long, the most lively attacking threat, tried his luck again on 21 minutes but although this time he had more time to place his shot from 25 yards he hit it too close to Martin who held the ball well.

After struggling at the start of the season, Boro’s backline have now picked up the habit of keeping clean sheets and evidence of just why was seen soon after Long’s effort.

MK Dons broke down the right of midfield with Mark Roberts sliding in just as Sam Baldock was about to pull the trigger inside the Boro penalty area and the defender took a clattering for his effort but he had timed his intervention perfectly.

Dons’ Peter Leven, in good goalscoring form at present, also had a couple of long-range efforts without success while Angelo Balanta sliced a 20-yard effort so badly it span out for a throw-in.

Boro were guilty of giving the ball away too easily on occasion with Michael Bostwick one such culprit, but the Dons were unable to capitalise.

At the other end May went close with a header just before the break, and although he had the beating of the defenders in the air he was feeding off scraps.

With both teams struggling for opportunities at the start of the second half Boro sent on Yemi Odubade and Rob Sinclair for Long and Wilson. Sinclair immediately gave Boro a more direct attacking threat on the right while Odubade’s pace began to stretch the Dons’ back line.

Chances, however, remained few and far between.

John Mousinho shot from the edge of the box while stretching for the ball and his effort curled towards goal only for Martin to save, and MK Dons substitute Jemal Johnson also went close with an effort from outside of the area.

Odubade and Johnson also had further efforts and Boro then brought on Terry Dixon for May in the final 10 minutes in the hope of pinching something from the game but neither side was able to find a winner and a replay awaits on Tuesday week.

Boro (4-5-1): Day 6, Laird 6, Henry 6, Ashton 6, Roberts 6, Wilson 5 (Sinclair 6, 60), O’Shea 5, Long 6 (Odubade 6, 60), Mousinho 6, Bostwick 5, May 5 (Dixon, 82). Subs: Bayes, Charles, Bridges, Griffin.

MK Dons (4-4-2): Martin 6, Lewington 5, Doumbe 6, Gleeson 6, Woodards 6, Balanta 5, Carrington 6, Leven 7, Chadwick 5, Baldock 5, Guy 6 (Johnson 6, 68). Subs: Chicksen, Hamann, Powell, Johnson.

Attendance: 2,956

Referee: Rob Lewis