Spoils shared between Dons and Notts County in thriller

MK Dons
MK Dons

League Two’s pace setters MK Dons and Notts County shared a thrilling 1-1 draw at Stadium MK on Saturday.

After a patient first-half, Daniel Harvie scored his third goal of the season just 45 seconds after the restart, before Dons were pegged back by Kyle Cameron’s excellent finish from 18-yards.

Macaulay Langstaff and Ellis Harrison both missed sitters in stoppage time at the end of the game, as the spoils were fairly shared at the end.

The result saw Dons drop down the order to fourth, with County relinquishing their top spot to GIllingham.

Max Dean made the first league start of his career as he led the line alongside Jonathan Leko, who overcame an injury to retain his spot in the line-up. He replaced Ash Hunter, who limped out against Crewe last week.

Deadline day signings Ellis Harrison and Anthony Stewart were named on the bench ready for their debuts for the club, while the surprise signing of keeper Michael Kelly was also included amongst the subs after his move was confirmed on Saturday afternoon.

With the heat in the early 30s, the pace of the game never took off in the first-half as both sides laboured their way through the first 45 minutes.

For long spells, the game was played at a steady pace, but it was Dons who looked most dangerous on the counter-attack. Opportunities for Jonathan Leko and Ethan Robson had keeper Aidan Stone scrambling, while Warren O'Hora raced a good 50 yards to try and finish off a quick-passing move, but he would not quite get on the end of Robson's fierce ball across the face.

County did not look as potent in front of goal, but should have gone in ahead at the break when Macaulay Langstaff, who scored for fun in the National League last season, somehow put Aaron Nemane's cross over the bar from inside three yards.

While the the first-half was a slow burner, the second was a tinderbox which burst into life just 45 seconds after the restart, and it saw Dons take the lead.

Daniel Harvie found himself in acres of space on the left flank and was invited to keep progressing and with attention on Dean and Leko in support, Harvie went it alone as he lashed in the opener.

Skipper Alex Gilbey could have made it 2-0 with a couple of great opportunities which fell his way - the first almost saw him saw an outrageous effort from 40+ yards when keeper Stone was out of his box and the midfielder took aim, only to see it blocked.

His second effort was far closer though, his dipping strike had Stone at full stretch to ensure it went just wide.

That effort seemed to kick County into life in the second-half, and after piling on the pressure, they forced Dons further and further back into their box. That pressure would tell on 66 minutes when the hosts could only half-clear as far as Kyle Cameron, who bent it home from the edge of the box.

The game flowed back and forth, and the excellent Max Dean could have restored Dons lead with a fine solo effort which drew a good save from Stone.

With the match balanced on a knife-edge, both sides could have won it in stoppage time. First, Langstaff's free header should have found the back of the net but for a brilliant save from MacGillivray before Ellis Harrison, who replaced Dean, somehow fired over from inside the six yard box.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Attendance: 8,011

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

Subs not used: Kelly, Lewington, Stewart

Notts County: Stone, Cameron, Rawlinson (Baldwin 58) Brindley, Chicksen (Adebayo-Rowling 58), Nemane, Bostock, Palmer, Austin (O'Brien 79), Crowley, Langstaff

Subs not used: Slocombe, Randall, Morias, Tipton

Booked: Smith