Honours even at Stadium MK as Cobblers claim share of the spoils

Cobblers registered a hard-earned point on Tuesday when held to a goalless draw by Milton Keynes Dons after shading much of a cagey encounter at Stadium MK.

Tuesday, 26th September 2017, 10:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 10:33 am
Matt Grimes battles for possession at MK Dons (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Matt Grimes battles for possession at MK Dons (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Northampton were the better team for large chunks and created several presentable chances to come away with victory, and Dons could have had few complaints if they did so.

The home side too had opportunities but neither side did enough to win it, although there were plenty of encouragement for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink whose team produced their most complete away performance for some time.

They were organised and solid at the back, rarely under pressure, and played some neat stuff going forward without ever really opening up Dons, who had goalkeeper and former Cobblers loan man Lee Nicholls to thank for a couple of important second-half saves.

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Matt Grimes wins this aerial battle

The Cobblers do drop into the relegation zone despite arresting their mini-slump, however, as they slide one place to 21st in Sky Bet League One.

Hasselbaink was forced into only one change for the trip down the M1 with Raheem Hanley coming in for Chris Long, who missed out altogether after picking up a hamstring injury at the weekend.

Both Alex Revell and Daniel Powell started against their former club while another ex MK man, Dean Bowditch, was on the bench.

The first-half was not one for the purist as it came and went largely without significant incident as the two sides jostled for possession and territory without ever really threatening an opening goal.

Alex Revell on the ball in the clash at MK Dons

The Cobblers, who certainly shaded the opening 45 minutes, played some intricate stuff in midfield but lacked punch up front, though they were first to have a shot in anger when Powell cut inside two defenders and dragged an effort wide, before Matt Crooks' low strike took a deflection and fell kindly for home keeper Nicholls.

Nicholls was the busier of the two goalkeepers despite not having a great deal to do while Dons, who had barely laid a glove on their visitors, almost struck against the run of play 10 minutes prior to half-time when Gboly Ariyibi's vicious effort from all of 30 yards whistled a fraction wide of Matt Ingram's right-hand post.

Long-range shots had been the order of the day in an otherwise chanceless opening 45 minutes and that continued to be the case when Revell fizzed over from 25 yards.

Finally, in the second of two added minutes, Town cut through Dons via Matt Grimes' run and pass to carve out a genuine opportunity, however by the time Crooks got his shot away, the angle had narrowed and it didn't test Nicholls, the ball flying into the side-netting.

Matt Grimes loses possession on this occasion

Crooks appeared to twist his ankle in the process of shooting and had to be replaced by Bowditch at half-time, but it was another former Dons man who almost put the visitors ahead early in the second period with Nicholls gathering Powell's low drive.

It was then Ingram's turn to be called upon, tipping over Aaron Tshibola's fierce 25-yard drive, in what was already a far more open and entertaining second-half.

The Cobblers remained the superior team but had to be thankful for Alex Gilbey's lack of pace as he struggled to get away from the visiting defence when put through, eventually shooting tamely at Ingram.

Back up the other end, Bowditch had made an immediate impact and almost came back to haunt his former club when he burst into the box and curled an effort towards the far corner which Nicholls palmed away.

Matt Grimes wins this aerial battle

The teams then exchanged half chances, Bowditch shooting wide on the turn and then Sow forcing Ingram into a low save.

Sam Hoskins was introduced with a little under 20 minutes to play and another opening fell to the visitors with Bowditch's cross falling to Revell, who controlled and shot in one movement straight at Nicholls.

Ash Taylor headed the resulting corner wide and both teams continued try and win the game as time ticked away.

The Cobblers had a late penalty shout turned down after Aaron Pierre went over in the box before Dons threatened an injury-time winner, but it wasn't to be and the spoils were shared.

Match facts

Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Wootton, Cisse, Golbourne, Seager (Nesbitt 54), Tshibola (Agard 72), Brittain, Gilbey, Ariyibi, Sow (Muirhead 79)

Alex Revell on the ball in the clash at MK Dons

Subs not used: Sietsma, Lewington, Upson, Ebanks-Landell

Cobblers: Ingram, Moloney, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan (c), Powell, Crooks (Bowditch 45), Poole, Grimes, Hanley (Hoskins 72), Revell (Richards 88)

Subs not used: Cornell, Kasim, Barnett, Waters

Referee: Chris Sarginson

Attendance: 11, 340

Cobblers fans: 2,566

Matt Grimes loses possession on this occasion