Published: 25/01/2012 10:44 - Updated: 25/01/2012 10:41

Stevenage 4 Dons 2: defeat in top six clash



TEN-man Dons lost ground at the top of League One last night as promotion rivals Stevenage won the top six clash at the Lamex Stadium.


The game was well balanced until Dons defender Mathias Doumbe was sent off in the second half, giving Stevenage a numerical advantage which they gleefully took advantage of.

Darren Potter was missing for MK through flu so there was a rare starting berth for winger Jay O'Shea and the Irishman, who would have been keen to make the most of the opportunity, made a dream start to the match.

With only two minutes played Adam Smith set off on a trademark run down the right flank and after his cross fell loose, O'Shea was on hand to bury a finish past Chris Day.

Managerless Stevenage had made an energetic start before the early strike but O'Shea continued to impress, fooling Michael Bostwick with a lovely piece of skill before letting fly with a long ranger which drifted just off target.

Dons slipped into their normal passing game and were doing well at the back to stop Stevenage attacks before they encroached dangerously into away territory.

Keeper David Martin had not been tested but just when Dons looked comfortable, the hosts suddenly hit back with an excellent strike from nothing.

Bostwick was given time and space just outside the visiting penalty area and after being teed up he arrowed a rocket of a shot past Martin which crashed into the bottom corner.

Martin had little chance of reaching it and after the dangerous Lawrie Wilson had skipped past Dean Lewington, the Dons keeper could again only watch as Darius Charles' weak shot drifted only inches wide.

He then should have been tested after Chris Beardsley got in behind following poor defending by Doumbe, but the striker inexplicably failed to shoot when the ball was begging to be hit and the chance came and went.

It was Stevenage who ended the half the better with Dons struggling to break after the equaliser and for once Karl Robinson's side didn't enjoy the majority of possession.

The visiting defence was being kept on its toes but after the half-time break Dons came out looking refreshed and Jabo Ibehre found the side netting after an early corner.

Stevenage responded by picking up the pace themselves and when goalscorer Bostwick tried again from similar range a deflection made the save awkward for Martin.

The hosts had regained their momentum but a great chance went to waste at the other end when O'Shea latched onto a long ball and drove in on goal.

Charlie MacDonald was well placed for a tap-in had the wide-man slid the ball across but he chose the wrong option and fired in a high angled shot which Day saved.

By now the game was delicately poised with the next goal looking crucial but Dons suffered a major blow with a nightmare two minutes of football.

Centre-half Doumbe, who was booked earlier in the half for handball, received his marching orders after a foul on Beardsley.

Robinson immediately brought on defender Tom Flanagan but before the new defence had time to settle, Scott Laird had flicked Luke Freeman's resulting free-kick into the far corner of the net.

Dons now had a mountain to climb and things went from bad to worse when Charles popped up in the box with a header of his own which also nestled in past Martin.

Stevenage kept coming and Wilson nearly tested Martin with a terrific drive from distance which ghosted wide, and the ten men did not threaten until Flanagan suddenly gave Dons hope late on by heading past Day.

But any thoughts of the unlikeliest of comebacks were immediately squashed when Gary MacKenzie turned Charles' low centre into his own net.

In defeat fifth placed Dons missed the chance to increase the gap to sixth place Stevenage and things won't be getting any easier for Robinson's men as fellow promotion rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield are coming up in the next two matches.

Stevenage: Day, Wilson, Laird, Charles, Ashton, Byrom (Edwardes 87), Roberts, Freeman (Long 68), Beardsley (Cowan 81), Bostwick, Henry. Unused subs: Julian, Edwards, Shroot.

Dons: Martin, Smith, Lewington, Doumbe, MacKenzie, Gleeson, Bowditch (Flanagan 63), MacDonald, Ibehre, O'Shea, Chadwick (Powell 77). Unused subs: McLoughlin, Baldock, McNamee.

Att: 3345

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