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16:55 17th September 2011


Town were held to a draw in Buckinghamshire this afternoon despite taking the lead against the MK Dons.

Scott Arfield netted five minutes before the half-time interval to cap a dominant first-half display by Lee Clark's side, but the Dons hit back through a second-half set-piece converted by home Captain Dean Lewington.

The drama was not over though, with home defender Gary MacKenzie being dismissed for an apparent head-butt on Alan Lee inside the Dons area - only for Lee Novak to see his resulting penalty saved.

The Terriers, wearing their change strip of red shirts with a white and black striped chevron, black shorts and black socks, kicked-off to start the game but Dons midfielder Shaun Williams was the first to have a shot at goal inside the first 90 seconds, collecting the ball after Jamie McCombe lost possession and sending a harmless deflected effort straight at Ian Bennett from long range.

Williams forced Bennett into more decisive action in the fourth minute, seizing upon a weak clearing header from McCombe before stinging the palms of the Town 'keeper with a fierce drive from around 25 yards out. 'Benno' tipped the ball over the crossbar and the resulting corner was well defended by the visitors.

The Terriers' first attack followed two minutes later - and almost resulted in the opening goal. After some good build-up play involving Gobern and Arfield, Lee Novak collected a low pass inside the area and lifted a clever cross towards the back post; big Alan Lee advanced on the ball to nod it home, but tall defender Mark Beevers did very well to nod the ball to safety under intense pressure.

Novak then picked out Danny Ward with a fantastic ball over the top, but the winger took too long over his shot as he entered the area - allowing big defender Gary MacKenzie levered him off the ball and clear to safety.

The game then progressed back in the Dons' favour and skipper Kay had to deflect a decent-looking snapshot from former Yeovil striker Dean Bowditch wide of goal in the 11th minute.

The lively Ward then went close to a spectacular strike in the 13th minute that would have been an early contender for goal of the season. After collecting a pass infield from the overlapping Jack Hunt on the edge of the penalty area, he teed the ball up and sent a cracking volley towards goal that beat goalkeeper Martin before rocking the frame of the goal and bouncing to safety. Hunt quickly returned the ball into the area, where Arfield was inches away from tapping home at the far post.

The Dons were trying to play a patient passing game utilising their three central midfield men - Potter, Gleeson and Chadwick - but the Terriers looked well prepared for this, with Lee Novak dropping in to help out Johnson and Gobern whenever he was needed.

Ward and Arfield delivered dangerous set-pieces into the Dons area midway through the first half before the Scotsman sent a low drive wide of the near post from extremely long range soon afterwards.

Jamie McCombe MK Dons 320

Home custodian Martin then showed good alertness in the 24th minute, springing from his line to collect an excellent low cross into the area from Ward - with Novak on the prowl at the back post.

Arfield then launched a counter-attack down the left side, skipping easily past centre back MacKenzie before trying to play Alan Lee through on goal - only to play his low cross-field pass behind the big forward.

Town were well in the ascendancy by this point, and Gobern soon found Ward wide on the left with a low pass in the 27th minute. Wardy easily cut inside full back Adam Smith and made his way to the edge of the area before powering a right-foot drive narrowly over the crossbar.

Alan Lee - more known for his physical power - then created a chance out of nothing with an audacious piece of skill. Having collected a ball played into the right channel, he cleverly flicked the ball over the head of Beevers before driving into the area, chesting the ball down and trying to play the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. Unfortunately for the travelling supporters, 'keeper Martin stuck out his right foot and pulled off an excellent reaction save.

Strike partner Novak then almost capitalised on an error from MacKenzie; he dithered when trying to clear Damien Johnson's ball into the area and when the ball dropped back into the danger zone, Novak volleyed over the bar at full stretch.

Another ball delivered into the box by Arfield on the stroke of the 34th minute led to yet another shooting opportunity for Novak at the near post, but uncharacteristically Town's top scorer slashed wildly at the ball and completely missed his kick.

GOAL - Finally the goal that Town's constant pressure warranted came in the 37th minute, with Scott Arfield netting his second of the season to cap a fine spell of pressure. Town won a throw-in down the right side and worked a quick-one, with Gobern and Hunt playing a smart one-two; the Town right back then delivered a cross into the box with his left foot where Alan Lee beat the offside trap and sent a free header towards goal - hitting the far post! Thankfully for Lee Clark's men, Arfield followed up and sent a composed right-footed effort low past the goalkeeper's right side from around ten yards out.

Team Celebrate MK Dons 320

Town, backed by a vocal travelling support, continued to attack following the first goal and Novak soon sliced a shot wide from 25 yards after being fed a pass infield by Ward.

MK Dons tried to get a foothold in the game in the closing period of the half, but the excellent Town defence saw them off - Ian Bennett remaining untroubled.


Neither side made changes to their personnel during the interval, but Dons manager Karl Robinson switched two of his men - the powerful Powell was now leading the line for the home side, with Bowditch moving to the left flank.

The Dons seemed to have renewed energy and started the half in bright fashion, with former Manchester United youngster Chadwick blasting wide from 25 yards out.

Town hit back, with Oscar Gobern floating a harmless volley straight at the 'keeper soon afterwards.

SUB - Young Dons right back Smith was injured early in the second-half following a robust - but fair - challenge with Danny Ward and he had to be replaced by Adam Chicksen in the 52nd minute.

The Terriers then caused havoc with a 55th minute corner, won after the new substitute conceded the set-piece with a careless touch. Arfield's ball into the area was headed up in the air by Gobern, but McCombe could not force the ball home with an acrobatic back-heel attempt.

Ward then easily beat Chicksen down the Town left with a clever piece of footwork and drove into the area before firing the ball low across the face of goal. Arfield got on the end of the delivery, but his shot hit a Dons player - and despite his claims that the ball had struck the defender's hands, referee Chris Foy allowed play to continue.

SUB - Town made their first substitution on the hour mark; Danny Ward looked to have taken a knock, so Gary Roberts replaced him down the left side.

The Dons were finally gaining some momentum - and it took a brilliant block from Antony Kay to deny Williams a clear shooting opportunity at close range in the 64th minute.

GOAL - However, the Dons were not denied for long - with Dean Lewington scoring from the resulting corner. The set-piece came in from Town's right side; giant centre back MacKenzie got in a free header at the back post but was brilliantly denied by Bennett at point blank range, only for the home skipper to follow up and power the ball home.

SUB - Anton Robinson was introduced as the second Town change immediately afterwards, replacing Oscar Gobern.

The home crowd finally found their voices following the equaliser and urged their side on as they enjoyed their best spell of the game. Despite this, the Terriers hit back hard; first Arfield sent a deep corner towards McCombe that had just too much power behind it with the big man unmarked before Alan Lee brilliantly span past a man in the area and fired low past the near post.

BOOKING - Calum Woods was shown the first yellow card of the game in the 72nd minute for a challenge on Darren Potter that the referee deemed too robust just inside the Town half.

Kay executed another excellent block - his third of the game - to deny Williams once more soon after as the home side continued to look for a breakthrough.

Town then sprang an excellent 77th minute counter-attack, spearheaded by Gary Roberts. The winger seized upon a loose pass from a Dons midfielder in the centre circle before driving at the heart of the defence; he eventually slid the ball left to Lee Novak before collecting the return pass inside the area, turning inside Chicksen and placing a right-foot shot towards the back post. His effort beat the goalkeeper, but midfielder Luke Chadwick got back to clear the ball off the line and to safety.

SUB - That block was Chadwick's last action of the game - he was replaced by Lewis Guy a minute later.

SUB - the Dons made their final substitution with six minutes left, replacing Powell with speedy winger Anthony McNamee.

RED CARD - Gary MacKenzie was then shown a straight red card by referee Chris Foy in the 86th minute following a crazy passage of play. First of all the big defender seemed to stamp on Alan Lee in the area as the pair challenged for a loose ball, which enraged the big Town striker; when the pair squared up, MacKenzie noticeably head butted the Town man - giving the referee no option but to display the red card.

BOOKING - Dean Lewington was also booked following the decision for dissent.

Foy also awarded a penalty for the incident. Up stepped top scorer Novak - but his low, placed effort was saved and held by the 'keeper right in front of the travelling support.

BOOKING - Lee Novak was then booked in the final minute of normal time for a late challenge on Beevers just inside the Dons half.

Novak led the charge for a winner in added time, first placing an effort towards the far post from 18 yards that the 'keeper held brilliantly with Lee lurking for a rebound.


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

Ian Bennett; Calum Woods, Antony Kay (c), Jamie McCombe, Jack Hunt; Danny Ward (Gary Roberts 60), Oscar Gobern (Anton Robinson 65), Damien Johnson, Scott Arfield; Lee Novak, Alan Lee

Unused subs: Nick Colgan, Liam Cooper, Jordan Rhodes

Town Bookings: Calum Woods (72), Lee Novak (90)

MK Dons Booking: Dean Lewington (87)

MK Dons Red Card: Gary MacKenzie (86)

Attendance: 8,243

Town: 1,284

    Data provided by Press Association


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