Boro slip to narrow defeat at MK Dons
MK Dons 1 Stevenage FC 0
FORMER Stevenage FC striker Charlie MacDonald condemned Graham Westley’s side to their first defeat in npower League 1 as top of the table MK Dons ran out 1-0 winners.
MacDonald, who made 19 appearances for Boro in 2002-03, scored 51 minutes into his debut to secure the three points in a game of few clear-cut chances at stadium:mk.
Stevenage matched the league leaders for much of the match and could have salvaged a draw, and with it their unbeaten start, had they been more clinical late on.
A dour first half saw the home side dominate possession but struggle to unlock the Boro defence, with captain Mark Roberts and centre-back partner John Ashton snuffing out any promising attacks.
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Karl Robinson’s men were restricted to shots from distance with both Adam Smith and Shaun Williams firing over in the first quarter.
The first significant action of the half saw Scott Laird, playing from the left-side of midfield, booked for a lunge on Adam Smith in the 26th minute.
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Laird appeared to come off worse from the challenge and limped off, with Jennison Myrie-Williams his like-for-like replacement.
Phil Edwards, again at right-back to accommodate a central-midfield pairing of Michael Bostwick and John Mousinho, followed Laird into the book three minutes later with a late tackle on Dons forward Dean Bowditch.
Having weathered early pressure, Boro’s best chance of the half came eight minutes before the break.
Byron Harrison wriggled his way into the area from the right-hand side and picked out Lawrie Wilson, only for the midfielder to hit his first-time right-footed shot straight into the arms of opposing goalkeeper David Martin.
Darius Charles, reverting to left-back after playing upfront is last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Hartlepool United, sensed a change in momentum and his marauding run and shot two minutes later forced Martin into another save, this time down to his right.
MK Dons replied with an effort of their own just before the break, but Shaun Williams skied his shot from distance, much to the delight of the travelling support behind the goal.
After a torrential downpour during the interval, the second half started with both teams showing much more urgency, but it was the home side who made the breakthrough.
Stephen Gleeson’s chipped pass found Luke Chadwick in space on the left-hand side of the box and, as goalkeeper Chris Day raced out, his low cross was tapped home by MacDonald from a couple of yards out.
The striker, signed on Friday from Brentford after League 1 top-scorer Sam Baldock moved to West Ham United, couldn’t have hoped for an easier chance to open his account.
MK Dons, unbeaten this season, pressed for a second but as half-chances came and went, it was Westley’s men who imposed themselves on the game for the final quarter.
Edwards was taken off with debutant Michael Thalassitis on in his place, Wilson dropping back into defence to accommodate the midfielder from a right-sided position.
On 70 minutes Thalassitis cut inside from the right and unleashed a dipping shot tipped onto the crossbar by Martin.
From the corner that followed Robin Shroot picked out Ashton whose header was destined for the net only for Chadwick to head off the line.
The game boiled over shortly after when substitute Ben May, sent on as a frontman, tangled with Jay O’Shea before Gleeson grabbed the Boro player by the neck.
A melee of players surrounded the referee as all three were yellow carded.
The final 10 minutes saw the Dons looking dangerous on the break, with Roberts making a last ditch interception to deny Bowditch, but it was Boro who had the chance to earn a point as the game went into injury time.
With two of four added on minutes played, a Shroot corner from the right fell to Thalassitis in the box but he could only fire over to ensure it was another debutant who would be making the headlines.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day; Edwards (Thalassitis 63), Ashton (May 75), Roberts (c), Charles; Wilson, Bostwick, Mousinho, Laird (Myrie-Willaims 26); Shroot, Harrison.
Subs not used: Julian, Beardsley.
MK Dons (4-4-2): Martin; Smith, Lewington (c), MacKenzie, Gleeson; Potter, Williams, Powell (O’Shea 69), Chadwick; Bowditch, MacDonald (Chicksen 79).
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Baldock.
Referee: Mr A Taylor