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Match Reports


14 January 2020

LIAM Boyce secured another valuable three points for the Brewers with the only goal of the game in a hard-fought victory over MK Dons

The Northern Irish striker fired home twenty minutes in after finding space to latch onto Nathan Broadhead to give the Brewers the advantage in an evenly contested first half and it took a rearguard effort in the second half to keep the Dons at bay as they produced an energetic and fluid performance that pushed Albion's defence back for long periods but Boyce's fourteenth strike of the season proved enough as a second successive clean sheet ensured victory and a place in the top six of the League One table heading into a ten day break.

For the second home game in four days the Burton side showed three changes to the team that ground out the satisfying 1-0 victory over Fleetwood Town. Colin Daniel, David Templeton and Oliver Sarkic all dropped out of the side although the latter two made it onto the bench. Into the side came Joe Sbarra after a busy cameo appearance against the Cod Army, Boyce, credited with the assist for Ryan Edwards winner also came back into the side as did Nathan Broadhead who had not featured since picking up an injury against Lincoln City at the beginning of December.

Having been restored to the side it was Boyce who forced Lee Nicholls into an early save after making room on the edge of the box for a low shot that skimmed off the wet surface following a huge amount of rain in the build up to the game.

MK Dons, to their credit were trying to play out from the back and it almost cost them dearly on 8 minutes when they surrendered possession to Sbarra who burst forwards, only to drag a shot wide when Fraser was well placed to his left.

Dons did play their way out to good effect two minutes later, Alex Gilbey striding forward to find Rhys Healey, the striker curling an ambitious effort wide of O'Hara's goal.

And Healey was left with his hands on his head when a loose ball came to him in the box and his first time shot squirted out of O'Hara's grasp and landed beyond the post.

As the visitors continued to grow in confidence both Joe Mason and Carlton Morris saw shots blocked from just inside the area.

Sbarra fared better on 17 minutes when a loose ball fell to him again and this time he made sure he worked the keeper, Nicholls making a smart save to push the ball away from danger.

It was anyone's guess which way the first goal was going to go given the open nature of the game and ex-Albion loanee Mason glancing a header straight at O'Hara from Dean Lewington's probing cross. O'Hara within seconds had Albion heading for the lead, a long ball forwards eventually falling for Broadhead who played BOYCE in for a confident finish past Nicholls.

But MK Dons were not downhearted despite going behind and on 26 minutes Conor McGrandles rattled the crossbar with a curling free kick after Sbarra had stopped Healey in his tracks just outside the box.

Both sides pushed and probed as conditions continued to improve. A good move down the Albion right got Brayford into a good crossing position but Nicholls was alert to snuff out the danger whilst Dons worked the ball around nicely but apart from a Callum Brittain opportunity, after beating two men inside the box, O'Hara kept his first half clean sheet in tact.

Half time: Burton Albion 1-0 MK Dons

Broadhead, after a long period out, failed to appear for the second half meaning a debut for loan signing Conor Shaughnessy, slotting in at left back to allow Lucas Akins to push further forwards.

Dons started the half strongly and it took a good save from O'Hara to deny Morris on 55 minutes as Albion's defence found themselves stretched and under pressure for a sustained period.

And the visitors continued to look the more likely scorers of the next goal when Brittain found room on the right to fizz a teasing ball through the six yard box with nobody able to get a decisive touch to the ball.

Fraser, disappointingly limped out of the game on 74 minutes after a clash on the halfway line meaning an introdcution for Richard Nartey, deployed in a holding midfield role to try and protect the back four.

And there were fears that Boyce would not continue when he stayed down after a tackle on the half way line but Albion's scorer returned to the fray following treatment.

When Jake Buxton put the ball out for a throw Dons boss Russell Martin found himself in trouble with referee Martin Coy for trying to take the ball from the fourth official in order to try and prompt a quicker restart.

Boyce had a chance to make it two after excellent work from Nartey and Quinn.

It was Quinn's last meaningful action as he made way in the closing moments for Templeton as the Dons roused themselves for a final push for an equaliser.

Albion had to produce a disciplined defensive effort and Brayford's cool header away from a stoppage time corner epitomised the effort that went into protecting three hard-earned points.

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