By Martin Atherton

Russell Martin’s MK Dons side will be disappointed to have not claimed all three points after an impressive opening day outing against Doncaster Rovers, but should nevertheless walk away with their heads held very high.

Baily Cargill, David Kasumu and Carlton Morris were among the many names who impressed today; Lasse Sørensen once again stood out in midfield, dictating much of the Dons’ forward moves whilst also chipping in with some excellent defensive covering.

As per last week Martin’s side started the game the stronger, controlling the opening exchanges and winning a handful of corners from a shaky Rovers side. Kasumu and Regan Poole both saw efforts saved and flash wide respectively, among others across the Dons side, whilst Ben Whiteman missed the target with the hosts’ only notable attempt.

Cargill then came oh-so-close to opening the scoring, seeing a fantastic long-range effort fly towards the top corner – but Josef Bursik was there to meet it in the Rovers’ net. Doncaster then made another rare venture forward minutes later, but Tyreece John-Jules’ header was seen comfortably over the crossbar by Lee Nicholls.

The best chance of the half then came just minutes before the interval – Nombe rounding Bursik to surely fire into an empty net – but Jon Taylor did well to track back and put the Dons forward’s effort out for a corner. HT 0-0.

Dons kept the Doncaster defence busy in the first half.

The away side began the second half in a similar fashion to the first, Poole seeing an excellent Kasumu cross put behind by a Rovers defender – but it was the hosts who then suddenly broke the deadlock against the run of play, Madger Gomes capitalizing on some slack defending to fire home from just inside the box. 1-0 Doncaster.

The Dons then appeared to once again drift away after conceding, allowing their opposition to slow the game down and frustrate them into giving away cheap fouls. Fejiri Okenabirhie was introduced by Darren Moore, adding further worry to the MK back line who began to drop deeper and deeper as the tie edged further into the hosts’ favour.

Martin then opted to turn to his own bench in search of regaining control and stopping the rut, bringing on Joe Mason, Matty Sorinola and Callum Brittain – the latter of which proving to be the inspired move the away side needed to re-energise their game and pull things level.

The Dons’ equaliser would then come from perhaps the unlikeliest of sources, Cargill nipping in after a fantastic team move to coolly slot past Bursik on 88 minutes. A well-deserved goal for the Bournemouth graduate who has come back a completely different player this summer after a disappointing previous campaign. 1-1.

And whilst most would have been happy to take a point by then, Cargill clearly wasn’t – the former Cherry then narrowly missing out on giving his side a late lead by firing his header straight at Bursik – but his late rallies would lead to nothing as the hosts managed to see out the final few minutes, albeit spluttering their way through. FT 1-1.

Perhaps frustrating to not pick up all three points in a performance as dominant as that, it is important to remember there is still so much more to come from this MK Dons side. The addition of Scott Fraser will add that clinical edge that we perhaps lacked in the final third today, whilst Richard Keogh’s return to fitness over the coming weeks will give us that much-needed experience in a central defensive position.

A positive performance and result away from home? A big yes to both. Russ is slowly working his magic on this side, and I for one am beginning to finally feel far more positive and excited about my football club.

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