Cobblers end goal drought but suffer late heartbreak in seven-goal thriller against MK Dons

Fraser Horsfall, who scored his first Cobblers goal on Saturday, heads away whilst under pressure. Picture: Pete Norton.Fraser Horsfall, who scored his first Cobblers goal on Saturday, heads away whilst under pressure. Picture: Pete Norton.
Fraser Horsfall, who scored his first Cobblers goal on Saturday, heads away whilst under pressure. Picture: Pete Norton.
Sloppy defending and contentious refereeing costs Town dear

Two goals in the final seven minutes cruelly denied Cobblers a crucial and deserved victory over Milton Keynes Dons as they were beaten 4-3 in an enthralling encounter at Stadium MK on Saturday.

Town's run without a goal stood at 550 minutes before kick-off but it came to an end thanks to an unlikely suspect just 78 minutes in as Fraser Horsfall volleyed home his first goal for the club.

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Unfortunately, however, Andrew Surman's magnificent strike levelled things up only 11 minutes later before Will Grigg handed Dons a somewhat fortunate half-time lead.

But Cobblers came roaring back in impressive fashion and bossed much of the second-half, going ahead through goals from Ryan Watson and Peter Kioso.

They were good value for the lead but could not hold out with a Cameron Jerome rifling in an equaliser before Charlie Brown dramatically snatched victory in the 87th minute, inflicting heartbreak on the Cobblers.

It was a gutting and devastating way to lose having played so well for so long but when the dust settles, Town will take plenty of positives from their performance and give themselves a great chance of staying up if they continue to play in that manner.

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Caretaker boss Jon Brady picked the same team that started at Ipswich in midweek but there were a couple of changes on the bench as both Alan Sheehan and Mickel Miller returned from injury.

Cobblers flew out of the blocks at Stadium MK and needed less than two minutes to break their scoring drought. The first goal under Brady, and only their second in 2021, came just 78 seconds in when Mark Marshall's pinpoint free-kick was expertly volleyed home by Horsfall.

The lead lasted just 11 minutes though as Dons drew level in sensational fashion, Surman thundering an unstoppable volley into the roof of the from 20 yards after Town only half cleared a free-kick.

The visitors should have hit back within 90 seconds when Dons got themselves into a pickle at the back but Sam Hoskins, 30 yards out, rolled agonisingly wide of the goal with goalkeeper Andrew Fisher stranded.

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Danny Rose's weak effort was also held by Fisher as the home side continued to get into trouble when trying to pass out of defence.

The first-half was a breathless and action-packed affair, and Marshall's well-struck long-range effort, which clipped the inside the post, was another illustration of Town's attacking intent.

But then it was the away side's turn to be masters of their own downfall when Lloyd Jones lost possession and Joe Mason fed Grigg, who cut inside and rolled a relatively tame shot through Mitchell's outstretched dive.

Cobblers could count themselves a touch unlucky to go into the break behind, although it might have even worse had Scott Fraser taken either of his two chances before half-time, screwing wide and then smacking a free-kick into the wall.

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Ryan Edmondson and Ryan Watson replaced Danny Rose and Jack Sowerby at half-time and one of those substitutions made an instant impact. Just forty-six seconds into the half, Watson picked up possession on the right, drove into the box and lashed a fierce shot into the bottom corner to level up proceedings.

And Town were gifted a glorious opportunity to retake the lead only five minutes later when another loose pass by Fisher was dropped to Watson but his pass forced Marshall wide and MK's goalkeeper made the save.

Neither side were learning their lessons and more risky play, this time by Cobblers, presented a chance for Matt O'Riley but he shot straight at Mitchell.

Shaun McWilliams made way for Mickel Miller and within minutes Town were again denied by the woodwork as the ball dropped to Edmondson inside the box but he struck the post via Fisher's knee.

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But the visitors had been by far the better team in the second-half and they got their reward with 12 minutes to go. Hoskins was fouled on the left and Marshall delivered another terrific cross that Kioso glanced into the net.

The lead would not last for long though and five minutes later they hosts were level again. Jerome looked offside but there was no flag and he rifled into the bottom corner.

And it got worse for Cobblers with just three minutes left. They switched off, MK took a quick free-kick and Brown was unmarked to convert.

Town won three late corners and both Mills and Sheehan had chances but Fisher denied both and the home side held out for a dramatic victory.

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MK Dons: Fisher, Lewington (c), Jules (Harvie 78), Laird (Sorinola 78), O'Hora, Darling, Surman, O'Riley (Gladwin 65), Mason (Jerome 65), Fraser, Grigg (Brown 78)

Subs not used: Nicholls, Sorensen

Cobblers: Mitchell, Kioso, Horsfall, Jones, Mills (c), Morris, McWilliams (Miller 69), Sowerby (Watson 45), Hoskins (Sheehan 90), Marshall (Chukwuemeka 90), Rose (Edmondson 45)

Subs not used: Arnold, Bolger

Referee: Samuel Barrott