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27 September 2016

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A tightly contested 90 minutes ended with a draw between the Town and the Dons

The Hatters and MK Dons development squads shared the spoils on a windswept autumn afternoon at Ely Way.

Andy Awford’s side’s last outing was the 4-2 Bedfordshire FA Premier Cup Final win over Barton Rovers last Tuesday.

It was a match Awford labelled a ‘learning curve’ for his players, as they had to go toe-to-toe with a physical Non-League side.

It proved to be a useful exercise, as today against a strong Milton Keynes team, the Hatters battled hard and were very impressive defensively.

Kavan Cotter had the first chance for Town, when he found space on the left side of the Dons box. The ball rolled out to him nicely, but his first time strike went well over the bar and out for a goal-kick.

Versatile midfielder George Murray, whose well-timed challenges had broken down a number of Milton Keynes attacks, came within a big toe of putting his side in front just after the half hour mark. Freddie Hinds 
darted down the left hand side of the opposition’s half, he crossed into Murray, who stretched, but couldn’t quite reach the ball from five yards out, which keeper Charlie Burns could catch with relative ease.

Ben Tilney went close to giving the lead, as he smashed the ball towards goal from the left of the Hatters box, but Joe Mead was there to block and then clear it away.

Both teams came out in the second half looking to break the deadlock, and Scott Belgrove, who replaced Jack Snelus at the break, came closest nine minutes in. A smart through ball put Belgrove one-on-one with 
MK keeper Burns, the striker chipped the man between the sticks, the ball bounced off the underside of the crossbar and was cleared away.

Sam Nombe hit the Hatters crossbar no more than a minute later, after finding himself in a one-on-one situation with Liam Gooch. The striker beat the keeper with a curling effort, but he didn’t beat the bar, as Gooch recovered to kick clear.

With 13 minutes left of normal time to play, Awford’s side took the lead, but not through a likely source. Kavan Cotter put left-back Jack James through on goal, and he made no mistake with the finish, shooting across the face of the keeper and into the bottom right corner.

The lead was very short lived though, as two minutes later the visitors had found an equaliser. MK captain Giorgio Rasulo smashed home from 20 yards out in emphatic fashion to level the game.

Geo Craig was dragged down by the last defender, Oran Jackson with seven minutes left to play, but Awford asked the referee not to send the player off, which after discussion with his linesman, the ref gave the defender a talking to and left it at that.

Luton Town XI: Liam Gooch (GK), Jack James, Harry Bean (Kitan Sorunke, 70), George Murray, Joe Mead, Ciaren Jones, Kavan Cotter, Alex Atkinson, Freddie Hinds, Jack Snelus (Scott Belgrove, 45), Arthur Read (Geo Craig, 70) 

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