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17:05 28th December 2009


A stunning first-half goal from Anthony Pilkington proved to be enough to move Town back above opponents Milton Keynes Dons in the League One table as the Terriers continued their impressive home form.

The game was full of chances, with the Dons having a first half penalty saved by Alex Smithies and top scorer Jordan Rhodes being denied by 'keeper Willy Gueret twice, but Town held on to record their first double of the season over an opponent.

The Dons lined up with five in midfield for the game, dropping their top scorer Jermaine Easter in favour of an extra man in the centre and leaving target man Aaron Wilbraham to lead the line.

The Terriers had the first shot at goal inside the fourth minute after Antony Kay was tripped by Lewis Gobern, but Anthony Pilkington smashed a free-kick way over the crossbar from around 30 yards out.

The game was predictably cluttered in midfield, but Town still showed some flashes of good play in the opening stages - Gary Roberts inches away from sliding Lee Novak through on goal in the 9th minute but slightly overplaying his pass.

The Terriers then went very close to opening the scoring in the 14th minute, only to be thwarted by a great save from 'keeper Willy Gueret. Town were awarded a free-kick to the right of goal when Kay was tripped by Wilbraham and Peter Clarke rose highest in the penalty area to nod Pilkington's excellent delivery towards goal; however, the former Swansea custodian did brilliantly to stick out his left hand and deflect the ball onto the post before a defender cleared to safety.

The Dons were then awarded a penalty in the 18th minute for an apparent handball by Joe Skarz; a long ball played into the area by visiting skipper Dean Lewington fell to defender David McCracken in the box, who flicked a shot towards the young defender from close range. The ball may have hit Skarz on the arm, but he was incredibly close to the opposing player and the award was very harsh.

Up stepped dead ball specialist Peter Leven to put the Dons ahead... only for Alex Smithies to make the save with his legs, allowing the Galpharm to erupt in applause!

Town, buoyed by the save, went straight on the attack and some great play down the left from Skarz allowed him to setup Anthony Pilkington, who drove the ball straight at the 'keeper from the edge of the box.

GOAL - The first goal of the game came in the 27th minute from Anthony Pilkington - and it was a real cracker. A patient passing move from Lee Clark's side spanned the entire length of the pitch, with right-back Peltier eventually playing a superb cross-field ball to the left for the winger; his first touch was typically excellent, allowing him to step inside and smash a superb right-footed drive past the despairing Gueret and into the top corner from 25 yards for his sixth of the season.

BOOKING - The game had a bit of needle in it thereafter and MK Dons winger Luke Chadwick was rightly shown the first yellow card in the 30th minute for a very late challenge from behind on Gary Roberts.

Chadwick made the Town players unhappy a minute later when he seemed to catch Peter Clarke on the head with his knee after the skipper had pulled off an excellent sliding block on him. Clarke had to sit on the sidelines for the resulting corner, but Smithies easily claimed Gleeson's deflected long range shot after the ball was half-cleared.

The Dons enjoyed a good spell with ten minutes of the half remaining, but they could not convert possession into a viable chance at goal. At the other end, Roberts showed a great piece of skill to beat Lewington to a Novak through-ball but McCracken managed to get back and clear the ball for a corner.

Roberts took the 40th minute corner from the right and found Jordan Rhodes' near post run; he flicked the ball to the back for strike partner Novak, who headed the ball towards goal - Gueret punched the ball away and it hit the unfortunate striker before dropping harmlessly behind for a goal kick.


The second half started with Town on the front foot and Gary Roberts was unfortunate to see his attempted long-range chip over Gueret fall on top of the net after he spotted the 'keeper slightly off his line just five minutes in.

BOOKING - Anthony Pilkington was shown a yellow card in the 51st minute for a late sliding challenge on full back Dan Woodards.

A clever overhead kick from Novak then set Roberts away down the right flank soon afterwards but with Pilkington screaming for a pass at the far post, 'Robbo' tried to bend the ball around the 'keeper and sent it flashing just wide of the far post.

MK Dons created their best chance of the game in open play in the 56th minute when left-back Lewington found space to cross down the flank, but winger Chadwick glanced his near post header wide of Smithies' far post.

A deft header from Rhodes then allowed the striker to round defender McCracken and charge towards goal in the 57th minute, but his low shot from 20 yards was turned around the post well by 'keeper Gueret.

The Terriers should have scored a second in the 65th minute, but top scorer Jordan Rhodes unusually spurned a golden opportunity. Great play from Tom Clarke and Roberts released Novak down the right channel and after the striker's cross into the box evaded the younger Clarke brother at the near post, Rhodes turned the ball over the bar from just eight yards out when totally unmarked in the penalty area.

SUB - MK Dons manager Paul Ince made a double substitution in the same minute, with strikers Sam Baldock and Jermaine Easter replacing Lewis Gobern and Nigel Quashie.

The Dons were immediately on the attack and within two minutes, Nathan Clarke was needed to make a great last ditch block as Easter looked to turn Wilbraham's cross from the right in at the near post.

A great ball over the top from Pilkington then released Novak in on goal on the stroke of 69 minutes, but as the ball bounced high into the sky the striker had to wait to take his shot and McCracken got back to put in a great challenge. The ball went straight up the other end and midfielder Leven placed a header wide of goal from a left wing cross.

The Terriers had the ball in the net again in the 72nd minute when Rhodes walked in a Pilkington cross from extremely close range, but 'Pilks' had been given offside from Roberts' through-ball.

Town looked very dangerous on the break and created another chance just a minute later, but Rhodes nodded Pilkington's cross into the box over the crossbar after good work from Roberts and Novak.

SUB - Jude Sterling replaced David McCracken in the 74th minute in the Dons' last change, with the big defender nursing a knock.

SUB - Town made their first substitution in the 77th minute, with Theo Robinson replacing Lee Novak in attack.

Gueret came to the Dons' rescue just a minute later, saving a point-blank header from Jordan Rhodes after he had got on the end of Gary Roberts' free-kick from the left. Barely 30 seconds later Town were at it again, with Robinson feeding Kay down the left and Rhodes heading another cross into the box inches wide of the far post.

Easter turned a decent ball into the box from Lewington over the crossbar with Peter Clarke in close attendance before Pilkington stepped easily inside the full-back down the left flank and blazed well wide when well positioned.

A late chance for substitute Jermaine Easter was dramatically blocked wide by a body on the line for Town in the closing moments.

SUB - Danny Drinkwater replaced Gary Roberts in Town's second substitution in the 89th minute.

BOOKING - The referee booked both Jude Sterling and Lee Peltier after a late scuffle.

The Dons threw a few long balls into the box in the three minutes of added time, but the Terriers held on to move back above the Dons in the table.


Town's Team (4-4-2):

Alex Smithies; Joe Skarz, Peter Clarke (c), Nathan Clarke, Lee Peltier; Gary Roberts (Danny Drinkwater 89), Tom Clarke, Antony Kay, Anthony Pilkington; Lee Novak (Theo Robinson 77), Jordan Rhodes

Unused Subs: Matt Glennon, Robbie Simpson, Andy Butler, James Berrett, Lionel Ainsworth

Town Bookings: Anthony Pilkington (51), Lee Peltier (90)

MK Dons Booking: Luke Chadwick (30), Jude Stirling (90), Jermaine Easter (90)

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    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.