One junction between them on the M1 and one goal between them today as both sides held the lead twice in this thriller at Stadium MK. Importantly, it was Russell Martin’s side who were holding the lead at full-time as The Dons defeat managerless Northampton Town.
After a goalless stalemate at Sixfields in the reverse, it only took 79 seconds for a goal here. Cobblers centre-back, Fraser Horsfall struck with venom to give the away side the lead following a clever set-piece by the League One strugglers.
The Dons replied quickly just as they did in their last home game against Sunderland. Andrew Surman’s Premier League pedigree was clear for all to see as he volleyed home from the edge of the penalty area following great work from Matt O’Riley on the left-hand side.
However, it seemed as though Martin’s men were trying to constantly give the ball away. A calamity at the back left Sam Hoskins with an open goal with Andrew Fisher helplessly far from his goal but the men in white were let off the hook as the ball rolled wide of the post, seemingly in slow motion.
Despite grabbing that equaliser, the form team were struggling to control the tempo of the game and were looking shaky at the back. Mark Marshall struck the post a couple of minutes before the half-hour mark as the sorry state of the Stadium MK pitch was doing the home side no favours.
After riding out this tricky period, the stage was set for Will Grigg to score his first MK Dons goal for almost six years. In the 34th minute, he became the star of the show, cutting inside and slotting past Jonathan Mitchell from just outside the 18-yard box.
Half-time: MK Dons 2-1 Northampton Town
MK Dons must have been watching Juventus in midweek as they conceded extremely early on in both halves. Former Don: Ryan Watson was played down the right and struck brilliantly past Fisher to score 49 seconds into the second half.
More shambolic play at the back almost saw Town complete a turnaround of their own. Watson was gifted the ball in the Dons’ defensive third and played in Marshall who was denied by Fisher.
The MK defence was in a state of constant disarray in this match as Northampton struck the post for the second time. Ryan Edmondson was played through on goal, with Harry Darling doing his best to slow down the substitute but he still managed to strike Fisher’s upright.
Only one team were looking like they were going to score in the second half and the hosts duly conceded from another set-piece. Marshall completed a hat-trick of assists with a brilliant delivery that was flicked on by Peter Kioso into the back of the net.
Incredibly, Martin’s men managed to rally once again. Cameron Jerome, back in the side after illness last week, came off the bench to do what he does best: score goals out of absolutely nothing. A somewhat hopeful ball forward by fellow substitute, Ben Gladwin, found the veteran who finished emphatically.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man: Charlie Brown came off the bench to score his first goal for the club in the 88th minute. Another substitute, Daniel Harvie swung in an incredible cross from the left-hand side which the former Chelsea man converted with a sliding finish.
Milton Keynes managed to hold on to this lead, however and survived five minutes of injury time to secure a memorable win over their M1 neighbours despite the poor performance. Martin’s subs ultimately made the difference.
Full-time: MK Dons 4-3 Northampton Town
Man of the match: Mark Marshall