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REVIEW | MK Dons 1-1 Wrexham AFC

One of the season’s more eventful games...

21 February 2024

Feature

REVIEW | MK Dons 1-1 Wrexham AFC

One of the season’s more eventful games...

21 February 2024

In a game filled with red cards, goals and a contentious goal line decision, Wrexham AFC and MK Dons split the points in Buckinghamshire.

Naming five changes for this fixture, it was Phil Parkinson’s side who got off to the brighter start, taking advantage of a MK side making mistake after mistake from the back. 

Luke Young, after his 250th Wrexham appearance, said post-match: “We knew coming into this that we could get them from goal kicks. With the way that they set up, we knew we could set the press right and we certainly got a lot of joy from that.” 

The opening goal instead came from a set-piece, with Young providing the pinpoint delivery himself. 

Max Cleworth’s early run towards the corner flag created an area of space at the front-post. Young’s corner then sailed invitingly into the area, where the on-running James McClean directed a header into the near-side of the goal to give Wrexham the lead. 

Despite MK Dons’ expected control of possession, Wrexham had the better start and deservedly the lead. 

A lead which would last a mere few minutes, as the hosts equalised instantly. 

In a similar fashion to Bradford City’s winner at the STōK Cae Ras, Jack Payne's threaded ball to Joe Tomlinson on the edge of the box brought out Eoghan O’Connell, as it did Ben Tozer against the Bantams.  

Payne then rolled a clever ball through into the path of Dan Kemp, who smashed home his third goal of the season against Wrexham. 

With the game level, MK started to grow in confidence and had two great chances to go into the interval ahead.  

Tomlinson’s curling effort in first half added time was the real showstopper, but Arthur Okonkwo produced one of the saves of the season to deny the MK man, as he tipped the ball with his right hand onto the post. 

After an eventful end-to-end first half, it would only get better. 

In the 59th minute, Tomlinson again tried his luck from range to see his shot swerve into Okonkwo’s hands. Dropping the ball onto his leg, it rolled tantalisingly close to the line... 

The linesman was well placed to see whether the ball was about to cross the goal line, staring straight down the line from next to the corner flag. Even with Okonkwo lunging on top of the ball and his momentum carrying it that bit closer to fully crossing the line, it cannot be considered conclusive that the entire ball was over, and so the referees made the correct decision by not awarding a goal. 

Almost ten thousand MK fans understandably went ballistic, but Wrexham took advantage and broke away. From Jacob Mendy’s cross, Jack Marriott’s square header was uncontrollably kicked over in the goalmouth by Lewis Bate; a nonetheless goal saving kick from the Leeds loanee. 

The moment the ball went out, captain Dean Lewington, in his 901st appearance for MK, lost all composure and was sent off by referee Sam Purkiss for his behaviour. 

After the confusion of the eventful minute, Wrexham took a grip of the game. 

Parkinson introduced Paul Mullin, Elliot Lee and Ryan Barnett and the latter was an instant thorn in MK defence’s side. 

Barnett was consistently beating his man and smashing balls across the box. However, each one just evaded that clinical Wrexham touch. 

The spell of pressure was similar to that against Notts County where the goal never came, however this time the opposition had a man less. 

Parkinson added to this post-match: “We looked in complete control and we were knocking on the door, with some unbelievable crosses into the box and some great chances.” 

That was until the 77th minute when Will Boyle was shown a second yellow card and sent off. 

After stopping Stephen Wearne from making a dangerous run in the 48th minute, Boyle was walking a tight rope for the rest of the half. 

There were warning signs when he collided with the on-running Kemp in the 58th and when Alex Gilbey chucked himself to the floor in the 72nd waiting for Boyle to take him out.  

When Matt Dennis knocked the ball past Boyle for the centre back to be sent off, it looked for all the money that Boyle had left out a lazy leg on the forward. However, on a second look, contact between the two seemed non-existent, meaning Boyle was perhaps unlucky. 

With that being said, it was now a game of ten-v-ten and whilst Wrexham still enjoyed some luck going forward, the winner felt far away. 

It was MK who should have taken all the points deep into added time, but Okonkwo once again proved to be too much of a challenge for Tomlinson, who couldn’t squeeze his close range shot past the Wrexham shot stopper. 

Two vital saves in both sets of added time; a man of the match performance. 

Full time was called and the feisty affair ended in a draw, as each side rued missed chances. 

The next instalment of Wrexham’s trio of away games takes place in Gillingham, who are teetering on the edge of the play-offs. 

Thanks to Stockport County drawing against the Gills last night, Wrexham remain three points off top with a game in hand. 


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