Concerns for Curle as Cobblers suffer key injuries in EFL Trophy defeat at MK Dons

Ryan Watson in the thick of the action at Stadium MK (Pictures: Pete Norton)Ryan Watson in the thick of the action at Stadium MK (Pictures: Pete Norton)
Ryan Watson in the thick of the action at Stadium MK (Pictures: Pete Norton)
Cobblers lost three players to injury as they were beaten 3-1 by Milton Keynes Dons in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night.

Keith Curle picked a strong team at Stadium MK but he may have been rueing that decision come half-time after Joseph Mills, Harry Smith and Luke Racic all had to come off with injury.

That means eight players are now in the treatment room ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet League One curtain-raiser against AFC Wimbledon, with key men Sam Hoskins and Nicky Adams among them.

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Mills had given Cobblers an early lead on Tuesday courtesy of a superb volley but ex-Town loan man Regan Poole levelled just past the half-hour mark before goals from Sam Nombe and Matthew Sorinola saw Dons take the points.

Fraser Horsfall clears his linesFraser Horsfall clears his lines
Fraser Horsfall clears his lines

Jonathan Mitchell made his Cobblers debut after replacing Steve Arnold between the sticks, but that was the only change as Curle selected close to a full-strength starting XI.

The teams exchanged early chances at Stadium MK with Laurie Walker quick off his line to smother well from Smith before Mitchell palmed away David Kasumu's long-range drive.

Cobblers took a 13th minute through an exquisite strike by Mills. A cross into the box was not cleared by Dons and the ball fell nicely to Mills, although it still required some finishing and the wing-back duly obliged, showing great technique and timing to hammer a volley into the bottom corner.

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Kasumu tried his luck from range for a second time and again Mitchell was equal to his well-struck effort, but MK Dons were back on level terms 12 minutes before the break through Poole's back-post finish after good work by Sorinola.

Baily Cargill came close with a couple of chances, the second of which really should have seen Dons back in front but he blazed over with the goal gaping.

Cobblers lost both Mills and Smith to injury in the latter stages of the half, and Racic was then taken off at the break to add to Curle's woes.

Matty Warburton missed a good chance to restore Town's lead five minutes into the second-half and Kasumu did likewise at the other end when he was given time to shoot eight yards out but scuffed his kick.

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The visitors' makeshift XI was still giving it a good go and Warburton was close again as Waker denied him, though the offside flag was raised in any case.

But MK Dons struck the decisive blows with two goals either side of the 75th minute. Substitute John Freeman pulled the ball back for Nombe and his first-time shot nestled into the bottom corner to put them ahead, and then Sorinola's rasping drive whizzed past Mitchell and flew into the roof of the net.

It could have been worse for the visitors in stoppage-time but Mitchell was at full stretch to tip over Nombe's curling shot.

Match facts

MK Dons: Walker, Lewington (c), Poole, Houghton (Brittain 80), Cargill, Kasumu, O'Hora, Sorensen (Freeman 70), Sorinola, Nombe, Mason (Morris 61)

Subs not used: Nicholls, Davies, Jallow, Black

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Cobblers: Mitchell, Racic (Martin 45), Bolger (c), Horsfall, Harriman, Mills (Roberts 40), Missilou, Watson, Korboa, Warburton, Smith (Lines 45)

Subs not used: Arnold, Ballinger, Marshall, Johnston

Referee: Christopher Pollard

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