Saints defeated by MK Dons
Tolley on target as St Neots open their pre-season campaign with a 4-1 defeat against League One side Dons
ST NEOTS TOWN 1
MILTON KEYNES DONS 4
(Gleeson 19, Ibehre 30, O’Shea 42, Gyasi 87)
FORGET the scoreline, St Neots started their-pre-season campaign in impressive fashion against League One MK Dons at The Hunts Post Community Stadium on Saturday.
Saints created numerous chances against their illustrious visitors, who currently ply their trade five levels higher in the pyramid.
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The fact Dons boss Karl Robinson brought a strong squad for the game showed a huge amount of respect for St Neots although, ultimately, their quality in front of goal shone through in the end.
For the record, Stephen Gleeson, Jabo Ibehre, trialist Jay O’Shea and Joel Gyasi netted for the visitors, with striker Shane Tolley scoring for Saints.
Young right-back Max Harradine, who was at Rushden & Diamonds last season, was handed a start, as was another trialist in Mark Webster (Biggleswade Town) at centre-half, with fellow defender Craig Grieve (AFC Kempston Rovers) also getting a run out in the second half.
The first period was an action-packed affair, with four goals scored and numerous chances created and both sides looking fit and sharp, despite only reporting back for pre-season training the week before.
Influential midfielder Junior Konadu was pulling the strings in the middle of the park for St Neots – showing he could mix it with top quality opposition – and winning more admirers, particularly visiting chairman Pete Winkelman.
Kieran Davies and skipper Lewis Webb both went close early on but, having created a few openings themselves, it was Dons who drew first blood 19 minutes in.
It was came following a series of pinpoint passes on the edge of the home penalty area and was finished off by Gleeson, who coolly slotted past new home custodian Michael Duggan from close range.
Stefan Moore was denied a leveller by visiting keeper David Martin on 22 minutes – with Dan Jacob’s attempted follow-up effort also blocked - before O’Shea rattled the crossbar at the other end moments later.
Then on the half hour mark, O’Shea whipped over a dangerous cross from the right that was thumped home by Ibehre from close range to double the visitors’ lead.
However less than 60 seconds later, the home faithful had something to cheer about themselves with the familiar sight of Tolley finding the net to pull one back for Saints.
He latched on to a long ball over the Dons’ defence and produced a sublime lob over keeper Martin and into the net to carry on from where he left at the end of his 54-goal season last term.
But, three minutes before the interval, the visitors restored their two-goal advantage as O’Shea latched on to Lewis Guy’s delivery and finished to make it 3-1.
A raft of substitutions from both sides naturally spoilt the flow of the game in the second half.
Jacob, Tolley and Moore all came within inches of deservedly adding to Saints’ tally, before sub Gyasi rounded off proceedings with a fourth for Dons three minutes from time.
Saints: Duggan, Harradine (trialist), Cobb, Webb (C), Webster (trialist), Fordham, Davies, Konadu, S Moore, Tolley, Jacob.
Subs used: Henerbery, Sear, A Greene, Grieve (trialist), Montique.
Dons: Martin, Dunleavy (trialist), Lewington (C), Milton, Flanagan, Gleeson, Ibehre, O’Shea (trialist), Chadwick, Williams, Guy.
Subs used: McCloughlin (GK), Chicksen, Gilbert, MacKenzie, Doumbe, Potter, G Baldock, Plowright, Gyasi, Powell.