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Match Reports

Imps 2 MK Dons 3

26 December 2021

The Imps suffered a heartbreaking defeat against MK Dons despite an impressive first-half performance.

An own goal followed by a Chris Maguire penalty put City in charge, but the visitors battled hard and snatched the points in time added on when Scott Twine’s shot took a massive deflection leaving Josh Griffith with no chance.

The visitors had the first opportunity of the game as Scott Twine fired wide inside the opening 30 seconds, but the Imps then took the game by the scruff of the neck.

The first goal came after just five minutes via a quick move from the back. Regan Poole’s pass from the right-back slot found Maguire in the middle of the pitch, he swiftly turned and played a stunning ball through for the run of Hakeeb Adelakun.

The winger’s dangerous cross back into the area was too hot for Warren O’Hara to handle and he could only divert the ball into his own net.

Two minutes later the Imps were presented another opportunity to strike when Dan Jarvis handled the ball in the area under pressure from Adelakun.

Maguire stood up to take the spot-kick, cooly finishing into the bottom-left corner while Andrew Fisher dived in vain the other way.

Mo Eisa sent an effort wide for the visitors after 22 minutes to remind the hosts they could not consider the game already one, but it was City who created all the best opportunities.

A corner won by TJ Eyoma started a run of four similar set-piece opportunities. The best chance of the run fell the way of Lewis Fiorini, who connected well with Maguire’s low delivery - his finish looked destined to land in the top-left corner were it not for a key deflection from Hiram Boating.

Fiorini delivered an enticing cross from the final corner of the run, but it just evaded the Imps players in the area - with Adelakun desperately throwing himself at the ball but just not able to get a foot on it.

The visitors had been pressed back for much of the match, but won their first corner on the half-hour mark - with Peter Kioso heading wide.

And a few moments later Josh Griffiths had to be alert to tip over an effort from Twine which took a wicked deflection via the shin of Poole as he closed down the shot.

Eyoma had to be alert to stop a counter from the visitors after Twine tried to break, getting across to calmly halt the danger.

With no changes at the break from either side, it was little surprise that Liam Manning had his side fired up for the start of the second half.

But it was the Imps who created the first opportunity, with only a perfectly-timed Kioso challenge stopping Maguire from getting a shot away. Adelakun then fired over from the right.

Bramall was a constant danger down the left, putting in a dangerous cross after 53 minutes.

A free-kick in a central position after 55 minutes, conceded after Harry Darling was judged to have stopped Lewis Fiorini’s run unfairly, provided a great opportunity for the hosts.

Maguire stood up to take the free-kick, testing Fisher with an effort aimed at the top-right corner which the visiting keeper kept at the second attempt.

The visitors had not looked too threatening during the second period, but the ball broke nicely for Twine after 59 minutes to pull one back.

Liam Bridcutt was booked in the aftermath, having reacted badly to Twine trying to take the ball off him after the strike.

That gave the away team belief, with the Imps having to weather the storm which had never materialised at the start of the half.

Eisa lifted an over just over the bar, and Griffiths had to be alert to block a shot from Troy Parrott moments after he had come off the bench for MK Dons.

The Imps looked to have survived the pressure, and threatened to restore the two-goal advantage through a smart move down the left with ended with Fiorini pulling an effort just wide from substitute Antony Scully’s left-wing cross.

Moments later it was an outstretched Maguire who went close as he just failed to get a foot on Adelakun’s cross from the right.

The Imps were made to pay when they broke down the left and an Imps clearance fell nicely for Matt O’Reilly to side-foot home the leveller.

They almost snatched the lead through a central free-kick from Twine, which Griffiths did well to turn behind.

The Imps dusted themselves off and, with 15 minutes to go, looked to regain the lead.

A great ball from Scully found Adelakun, whose attempt to pull the ball back was thwarted by the combination of Fisher and a tight angle.

Maguire threatened with a lofted shot from distance after 83 minutes, with Bridcutt clattering into a post as he almost turned it in.

Young forward Freddie Draper was sent on for the final few minutes, with only a great stop from Fisher denying him a fairy tale first senior goal as he connected with a delivery from the right.

And there was late heartbreak as Twine’s shot - which was not on target - deflected in via Poole who could do nothing about it.

Attendance: 8,328 (333 away)

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