Cobblers strike early and late to sign off pre-season with victory over Milton Keynes Dons
Mitch Pinnock’s eighth-minute strike had Town ahead at half-time before Warren O’Hara headed level on the hour, but late goals from Peter Abimbola and Ben Fox ensured Jon Brady’s side signed off pre-season with victory. It’s now all eyes on next Saturday and a Sky Bet League One opener against Stevenage.
Marc Leonard was straight into the starting line-up an hour after confirmation of his return to the club, and he was joined by fellow loanee Tyreece Simpson for his first outing as a Cobbler. Captain Jon Guthrie also made his first start of pre-season as part of a back three, but Sam Hoskins and Shaun McWilliams were not involved for precautionary reasons.
MK Dons had an early goal ruled out for offside and within three minutes they were behind. Cobblers worked it nicely through the middle as Jack Sowerby found Akin Odimayo in the box and he sat down two defenders before seeing a shot blocked, with the rebound falling to Pinnock who found the net via the underside of the crossbar.
With Leonard and Sowerby orchestrating things in midfield, and the wing-backs regularly pushing on, Town were the better side and playing the more assertive football in the opening 20 minutes as Pinnock rattled the post with a fine strike and Kieron Bowie was charged down just as he looked to pull the trigger.
Dons made a substitution midway through the opening period which helped them gain more of a foothold in the game, although they were restricted to a handful of long-range shots, the best of which saw Cameron Norman whizz one just past the far post.
Aaron McGowan replaced Guthrie at half-time and MK Dons came out on top after the restart with Jonathan Leko dragging wide and Manny Monthé blocking well from Alex Gilbey, before they drew level through O’Hara’s header from a corner.
Brady then made a whole raft of changes as seven players came on, including two trialists (Josh Harrop and Khanya Leshabela), and MK Dons were now coming on strong as Daniel Harvie smashed a free-kick into the wall and Patrick Brough headed off the line.
However, Cobblers reversed the momentum and finished on top. Harrop forced Craig MacGillivray to tip over from distance, and it was the visitors who took the spoils thanks to two late goals. Abimbola picked out the top corner with a smart finish after a well-worked move on 87 minutes, and two minutes later Fox latched onto McGowan’s pass and beat MacGillivray via a deflection.
MK Dons: MacGillivray, Norman, Tucker, O’Hara ©, Williams, Leko (Holland 57), Gilbey, Ilunga (Robson 24), Burns (Eisa 57), Harvey, Anker (Dean 76)
Subs not used: Harness, T Smith, M Smith, Scholtz, Devoy, Tripp
Cobblers: Burge, Sherring, Guthrie © (McGowan 45), Monthe (Dyche 60), Odimayo (Hondermarck 60), Koiki (Brough 60), Leonard (Fox 60), Sowerby (Trialist A 60), Pinnock (Trialist B 60), Bowie (Abimbola 76), Simpson (Appéré 60)
Subs not used: Dadge
Referee: Alan Young
Cobblers fans: 1,073