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Archived News from March 2024

11th March 2024 11:05

English Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 1 - 2 MK Dons
Quinn 15. Gilbey 20, Dennis 54
Attendance: 7,414 (370 from MK Dons)

Date: 5 March 2024

Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill

After a terrific run of 5 wins from 6 games, including 20 goals in an incredible February, Mansfield Town lost 2-1 at home to MK Dons last night. Mansfield remain top, and MK Dons are 5th, 5 points behind Mansfield having played a game more.

However, it's worth noting that since MK Dons appointed their new manager Mike Williamson on October 21st, MK Dons have picked up more points than any other League Two side, 45 points, followed by Mansfield, 43 points. MK Dons are a huge threat to the top 3 and have to play Mansfield again next month.

This was a good game and both sides played well, but Mansfield were let down by a lack of sharpness going forward. Having scored 9 and 5 in the last two home games, the Stags were denied by multiple blocks from MK Dons who defended well and put bodies on the line. Mansfield did have 23 shots to 17 from MK Dons. The Stags also had plenty of good situations which didn't lead to shots.

MK Dons have a midfield to rival Mansfield in terms of quality, and they showed it last night. Alex Gilbey, Lewis Bate, Dan Kemp, and Jack Payne is a great midfield. Though Kemp was not as good last night as he was against Mansfield for Swindon earlier in the season. MK Dons wing backs Kyran Lofthouse and Joe Tomlinson were very good too.

It was just Mansfield's 5th defeat of a great season so far.

With 5 games in 2 weeks, Mansfield made 5 changes from the side that won at Newport. In came Bowery, Lewis, Quinn, Akins and Swan. For George Williams, Maris, Clarke, Boateng and Nichols. It was simply a matter of freshening the side up, and that will continue during this two week period.
Swan was back from a slight muscle injury that meant he didn't travel to Newport. He was to have a poor game though and whether that slight injury affected him, I don't know.

Of the starting 11, Bowery, Cargill and Quinn were former MK Dons players, as were Boateng and Williams on the bench.

It was the first game between the two sides since that fateful day five years ago when the Stags lost 1-0 on the final day of the season at Stadium MK, missing out on promotion, with MK Dons promoted.

George Williams and Dean Lewington were the only survivors from either side from that game. Williams of course was playing for MK Dons then. Lewington was on the bench here, returning from suspension. Neither player was to come on.

It was another big crowd. A sellout in the West Stand and Quarry Lane end, so two blocks of the North Stand were opened up for Stags fans with only a paltry 370 away fans from MK Dons despite the under 100 mile journey. As for the Salford game, there were over 7,000 home fans in total, with around 100-200 in the North Stand (average home attendance stats as always at the bottom of the report).

The Stags took the lead after 15 minutes. Quinn crossed from the left and MJ Williams handled in the area. The lack of complaints was telling. Quinn’s cross came after Swan lost control of the ball in the area and the ball was cleared as far as Quinn. Akins took the penalty but it wasn't a good kick and keeper saved well. The ball came back to Akins who fired goalwards and the keeper made an even better save. Quinn was first to the loose ball and turned it in near the post. MK Dons would be disappointed with their defending that Mansfield were first to the rebounds, but there was a strong element of bad luck for the keeper that his saves were unrewarded.

The lead only lasted five minutes. And there was a strong element of luck with the equalising goal. A long kick forward from keeper Kelly and Brunt did well to get a firm header away. But his header hit Alex Gilbey and the ball ran so kindly giving him a clear run on goal. Gilbey got to the edge of the area and curled a great shot past Pym. A great finish after he was lucky to get it in a good position.

The rest of the first half was pretty even. Mansfield did play some good football causing MK Dons problems but without that sharpness in the final third. And it was MK Dons who could have scored again after 41 minutes when the hopeless striker Matt Dennis sent an awful header wide from 6 yards.

The Stags had a good chance to regain the lead after 49 minutes. Keeper Kelly gave the ball to Quinn 25 yards out with an atrocious pass. Quinn slid it forward to Keillor-Dunn unmarked in the area 14 yards from goal. Keillor-Dunn shot straight at the keeper, the ball came back to him and he lost it. Keillor-Dunn will be so disappointed with that miss given the quality of the chance.

MK Dons took the lead after 54 minutes and it was a second goal that had a large element of luck about it. It started with a Mansfield chance as Reed’s shot was blocked after great play from Akins on the right initially, and then Quinn squared to Reed 25 yards out. Gilbey immediately slid a pass out to Dennis on the left wing with Bowery out of position. Dennis got to the edge of the area, cut inside and shot goalwards. It was heading straight to Pym, but a deflection off Bowery took it around Pym into the bottom right corner. Dennis had a poor game and this was a huge stroke of luck for him and MK Dons. Pym had no chance.

After 57 minutes, Reed’s goalbound shot from 18 yards was blocked by Bate. Quinn recycled the ball to Bowery, whose shot from the edge of the area was also blocked.

The Stags had three shots blocked in quick succession after 81 minutes. Keillor-Dunn’s corner from the left, Flint pulled the ball back from beyond the far post, Boeteng’s shot from 6 yards was blocked, it came back to Boateng, his shot was blocked again, it came out to Clarke and his shot from 16 yards was also blocked. Incredible.

Clarke shot straight at the keeper from 25 yards after 83 minutes as Maris found him.

Pym made a brilliant save after 90 minutes to deny Gilbey from 10 yards.

The Stags couldn’t create any more shots and fell to the second home defeat of the season, the first was against Crewe.

In my opinion, MK Dons are the best side we have played this season.

MK Dons manager Mike Williamson gave a fair assessment of the game afterwards: "It was a fantastic game, with two good teams. You could see from the first whistle, we both wanted to win the game. We showed every part of our character, wanted to get the ball down, played as much as we were allowed. We were under a lot of pressure as they are a really high-intensity, hard-working team. And we had to put bodies on the line as well. You have to respect who we're playing, and they're top of the league for a reason. The intensity they play with, the desire to run and the quality of player they have says that is where they are meant to be."

Nigel Clough’s assessment was: “I think we did do enough to get something from the game. I think a draw probably would’ve been a fair result. We just didn’t do enough in the final third. You do need a break. One might hit somebody on the backside and go in or something like that. We’ve scored 14 goals in our last two home games and it’s as though we used up any good fortune in those two games. We hit the target with three or four opportunities at the end. You just want one to ricochet in off someone or drop to somebody in open space and it didn’t quite happen. We have narrowly lost tonight to a very good team who I think we will be up there challenging for automatic promotion at the end of the season.”

11 games left. I reckon 84 points might well be needed for a top 3 spot. That’s 18 more points from 11 games.

The next game is at home to Swindon on Saturday. The Stags of course were beaten at Swindon earlier in the season by a last gasp goal. Swindon have a big advantage in not having had a midweek game, and that is why Mansfield will again have to freshen the side up. The Stags need to bounce back.



Mansfield Town 1-2 Milton Keynes Dons
Quinn 15. Gilbey (20'minutes), Dennis (54'minutes)
Gilbey (54'minutes)

Match report supplied by PA Media.

MK Dons came from behind to strengthen their promotion push with a hard-earned away win at League Two leaders Mansfield.

It was honours even at the break after an exciting first half with chances at both ends.

Mansfield drew first blood on 15 minutes after MJ Williams had handled a Stephen Quinn cross in the box.

Keeper Michael Kelly saved well from Lucas Akins' spot-kick and did even better to keep out the former Burton forward's follow-up, but he was helpless as Stephen Quinn buried the loose ball.

Dons were level within five minutes as Lewis Brunt's powerful header hit the advancing Alex Gilbey and he ran on to bury a powerful 20-yard finish.

Aden Flint saw his header cleared off the line by Matthew Dennis after 38 minutes and soon after Dennis headed wide from six yards at the other end from a deflected cross.

But Dennis did put Dons ahead after 54 minutes when he cut inside from the left and his low 20 yard shot was deflected past a helpless Christy Pym.

Pym denied Dons a third in the final minute with a great save from Gilbey's finish.

Match Stats
Home Team Mansfield Away Team MK Dons
Possession Home 47% Away 53%
Shots Home 23 Away 17
Shots on Target Home 11 Away 5
Corners Home 5 Away 3
Fouls Home 12 Away 9


Deflected shot wins big promotion clash for MK Dons at table-topping Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas, Tue 5 Mar 2024

Mansfield Town missed a big chance to extend their lead at the top of League Two as visiting promotion rivals MK Dons came from behind to inflict a 2-1 defeat on Stags in a thriller at the One Call Stadium tonight.

It was even more painful that the winner came via a big deflection.

An exciting first half saw Stags go ahead on 15 minutes through Stephen Quinn, netting at the third time of asking after Michael Kelly had saved a Lucas Akins penalty and the first follow-up.

But a thunderbolt 20-yarder from Alex Gilbey levelled matters five minutes later.


And the comeback was complete on 54 minutes as Christy Pym was beaten by a deflected Matthew Dennis shot, the Dons good value for their victory in the end.

Home boss Nigel Clough again freshened up his side with five changes from the weekend.

Jordan Bowery replaced George Williams at right-back, Stephen Quinn and Aaron Lewis took over from Hiram Boateng and Ollie Clarke in midfield while George Maris and Tom Nichols made way for Lucas Akins and fit-again Will Swan.

MK Dons skipper Dean Lewington returned to the visitors' bench after serving a two match suspension.

Dons launched a break on two minutes that ended with Pym smothering the ball at the feet of Dennis.

Payne sliced a snapshot well wide a minute later.

Another swift Dons move down the centre saw Lofthouse closer on nine minutes, but, under pressure from Brunt, his low finish was wide of the left post.

A minute later Keillor-Dunn played Akins into space, but his shot lacked venom and was straight at the keeper.

But Mansfield were ahead on 15 minutes.

Williams cut out a Quinn cross with his hand in the box to concede a penalty.

Akins stepped up and saw Kelly superbly save both his initial kick and his follow-up, but Quinn was on hand to tuck away the loose ball from close range at the third time of asking.

However Dons levelled five minutes later.

Brunt got a firm defensive header away but unluckily for him it flew straight into the onrushing Gilbey, who raced on and smashed home an unstoppable finish from 20 yards.

A Kemp shot then took a deflection for the game's first corner.

On 29 minutes Quinn put a strong ball over from the left which Akins was unable to guide on target from close range.

Then Payne just managed to get a touch ahead of Keillor-Dunn before he could head home a Lewis cross while Cargill was just too high with his header from a Quinn free kick as Mansfield continued to push.

Quinn almost headed home from a Quinn corner on 38 minutes but Dennis was able to clear off the line.

But Dons were again close on 41 minutes as a left wing cross took a deflection and spun towards Dennis, who guided his header wide from six yards.

Two minutes later Flint's header from another Quinn corner was safely grabbed by Kelly.

In the second of three added minutes Cargill took one for the team as he brought down Lofthouse in full flight and was booked.

Dons created the first danger after the break as on 47 minutes Tomlinson burst into the box on the left and flashed a shot into the sidenetting.

On 50 minutes a poor kick from Kelly went straight to Quinn, who set up Keillor-Dunn for a blast that Kelly saved well.

Dennis' trip on Cargill seconds later earned the Dons man a booking.

But MK were ahead with a stroke of fortune on 54 minutes.

A low Dennis shot from 20 yards, after he had cut in from the left, took a deflection en route which was enough to see it beat Pym inside the far post.

Kemp was thankfully too high on 59 minutes after Akins had given the ball away to spark a break.

Quinn shot straight at Kelly, as did Bowery after Stags had made a triple change on 61 minutes.

Clough made two more changes on the 70 minute mark as a final throw of the dice.

Harrison then set up Tomlinson for a shot that flew over the top on 72 minutes.

Brunt felt the full force of a Tomlinson blast that floored him, but he was able to continue as the visitors enjoyed a good spell with Stags clearly rattled.

An 81st minute home corner saw mayhem as Boateng and Clarke had close range shots blocked.

Two minutes later Clarke turned well but sent his low shot straight to Kelly.

Boateng was booked for hauling Lofthouse back on 85 minutes.

On 90 minutes Pym made a fine save to keep out a powerful rising finish from Gilbey as Dons held onto three precious points at the other end with some disciplined defending.

STAGS: Pym, Bowery, Flint, Brunt, Cargill (McLaughlin 61), Reed, Lewis (Clarke 61), Quinn (Boateng 70), Keillor-Dunn, Akins (Maris 70), Swan (Nichols 61). SUBS NOT USED: Flinders, Williams.

MK DONS: Kelly, O'Hora, Williams (Norman 84), Gilbey, Payne (Robson 84), Tomlinson, Harvey, Kemp (Tezgel 61), Lofthouse, Dennis (Harrison 61), Bate. SUBS NOT USED: Harness, Lewington, Tripp.

REFEREE: Lee Swabey.

ATTENDANCE: 7,414 (370 away).


Gilbey inspires Dons to brilliant win over league leaders Mansfield
Milton Keynes Citizen, By Toby Lock, Tues 5 Mar 2024

A brilliant MK Dons responded to derby defeat in style with a 2-1 win over League Two leaders Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium on Tuesday night.

Keeper Michael Kelly denied Lucas Akins from the penalty spot after 15 minutes but Stephen Quinn fired in the rebound to give the hosts the lead, but the excellent Alex Gilbey fired in from range five minutes later.

Having missed a sitter late in the first-half, Matt Dennis scored a fine goal nine minutes after the restart to give Dons the lead, and it was nothing short of what they deserved, handing down Mansfield's second home defeat of the season to move within two points of the top three.


Injury to Stephen Wearne meant he missed out on the game against the League Two leaders, meaning Matt Dennis was handed his first league start since October 7 and the 2-1 defeat at Gillingham. MJ Williams also returned to the starting line-up in place of Cameron Norman.

Three former MK Dons players lined up for Mansfield, in the form of Jordan Bowery, Baily Cargill and Stephen Quinn, while two more - Hiram Boateng and George Williams - were amongst the substitutes for the Stags.

Both sides have been credited with playing attractive football to get them where they are in the standings, and from the off, the game looked every bit a great advert for it. Dons started brightly, with Alex Gilbey spearheading the forward play as he came up against the giant Aden Flint in the Mansfield defence. But showing the former Cardiff City defender a clean set of heels, his ball to Matt Dennis got suck under the striker's feet.

Despite being free scoring in their last two home games, Mansfield did not cause Dons much of a threat in the opening quarter of an hour until MJ Williams was adjudged to have handled Quinn's cross to give the Stags a penalty. Michael Kelly was desperately unlucky after saving the spot kick from Lucas Akins, and then clawing the follow-up away too, but Quinn followed in to tap in from a couple of yards.

The lead though would last just five minutes as Gilbey would fire in his ninth goal of the seson, and what a peach it was too. Picking up a rebound in midfield, Gilbey took it on to the edge of the box before unleashing an unstoppable effort past Christy Pym.

The home side though would be determined to restore their lead, and penned Dons in. Flint had a couple of headers which Kelly marshalled well, while Cargill too headed over.

At the other end, Dennis should have sent Dons in ahead at the break when he got on the end of Dan Kemp's cross, but headed well wide from inside six yards.

That chance though would be more than made up for nine minutes into the second-half when the striker burst forwards, squared up Flint before bending the ball into the far corner past Pym's dive.

Man for man, Dons just looked to have the edge over the opponents, who had only lost twice at home all season. Chances continued to come Dons' way, with Lofthouse and Tomlinson both firing over as they looked to further the lead.

As the game ran towards time, Mansfield inevitably went longer and but for some do-or-die defending would have drawn level when a corner bobbled around in the box, though Tomlinson put in a brave block to deny Stags substitute Boateng.

Dons though had a chance to put a bow on the victory in the last minute when Gilbey forced a save from Pym, with the win moving them within two points of the automatic promotion places.

Referee: Lee Swabey

Attendance: 7,414 (370)

Mansfield Town: Pym, Bowery, Flint, Brunt, Cargill (McLaughlin 61), Reed, Lewis (Nichols 61), Quinn (Boateng 70 ), Keillor-Dunn, Akins (Maris 70), Swan (Clarke 61)

Subs not used: Flinders, Williams

MK Dons: Kelly, O'Hora, Harvie, Williams (Norman 83), Tomlinson, Lofthouse, Payne (Robson 83), Bate, Gilbey, Kemp (Tezgel 61), Dennis (Harrison 61)

Subs not used: Harness, Lewington, Tripp

Booked: Cargill, Dennis



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