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Match Reports

REPORT: MK Dons 1-1 Stevenage

16 March 2019

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Jim Steele

Stevenage were made to settle for a point on the road as Ilias Chair’s first half strike at Stadium MK was cancelled out by a late Chuks Aneke equaliser..

Boro were in control of proceedings for much of the contest but were unable to hold out against title-chasing MK Dons.

Dino Maamria made two changes to the side that beat Swindon in midweek - opting for youth in the middle of the park by bringing in Arthur Iontton and Mark McKee for Joel Byrom and Moses Makasi.

Backed by over 500 travelling Stevenage supporters, the first big chance of the game came inside the opening minutes and it was Alex Revell against his former side. After being played-in by a clever nod-down from his striker partner Guthrie, Revell raced into the box before seeing his shot saved by the foot of Nicholls.

Straight down the other end, Houghton almost caught Farman out with a wide-free kick that was headed for the near-post but for Farman’s quick scamper across his goal. An early yellow card for Ben Nugent following a high arm on David Wheeler meant for a first half Dons substitution as he was forced to make way for striker and former Boor loanee, Chuks Aneke.

Chances were few and far between throughout the first half as Stevenage stifled the Dons whilst showing encouraging signs in attack. Aside from a Russell Martin over-head kick inside a congested penalty area, the home team offered little in-front of goal.

Thankfully for Stevenage, Ilias Chair was on the pitch and he scored another stunning long-range effort on the half hour mark. After picking the ball up half way inside the Dons half, the Moroccan magic-man took it to 35 yards out before unleashing a rocket into the bottom corner.

Kieran Agard almost immediately silenced the jubilant travelling supporters as he fired a low and powerful effort across the six-yard box which deflected just behind for a corner.

Chair was at his skilful best on Saturday afternoon and after sitting down two Dons defenders on the left-hand side of the box, fine margins separated Guthrie and a goalscoring opportunity with the football. Right before the half was out, Kieran Agard fired over the bar after receiving a pacey ball into him from 12 yards out.

MK Dons started the second half brightly and two minutes in, Aneke came inches away from heading in a Brittain cross that flew just past the waiting striker. Man of the Match in Tuesday night’s win over Swindon, Paul Farman was called into action for his first real save of the game on 55 minutes and did remarkably well to palm away a Russell Martin volley that was heading for the bottom corner. Farman managed to get a wrist to the ball, which deflected up, onto the crossbar and away to safety.

There was space to be exploited for Boro as the Dons pushed forward in the second half but that final ball or decision wasn’t quite coming off and Stevenage were unable to kill the game. That gave the home side hope and with 15 minutes remaining, Hesketh came the width of the post away from scoring his own cracker, as he curled just wide from distance.

Revell fired a powerful shot down the throat of Nicholls in goal as Boro continued to look for that killer goal. Down the other end, cross after cross was swung into the Stevenage box and after Gilbey flicked on a near-post corner just the way they had it planned out, collective heads were in hands as Agard conspired to head over from just a few yards out.

It wasn’t too long before the Dons made it count and it came from another cross, as Gilbey latched onto one that flew across the box, putting it back across goal for Aneke to pounce upon to make it 1-1.

With seven minutes of added time and a stretched game unfolding, Joel Byrom could have snatched the lead back in the final minutes as he burst into the box to meet James-Wildin's cross on the counter-attack. Unfortunately for Stevenage, it was a difficult ball to control and his effort went flying over the bar.

That was the last of the meaningful action as neither team were able to carve out one final opportunity. A good point and performance away at strong opponents but one that left a bitter taste in the immediate aftermath with thoughts of 'what could have been'.

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