Milton Keynes Dons 2-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • February 26, 2022 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL:

Bolton hit a roadblock in their pursuit of the play-offs as they were beaten 2-0 by Milton Keynes Dons.

Having recovered from defeat at Burton Albion with back-to-back home victories over both AFC Wimbledon and Lincoln City, Wanderers were second best at Stadium MK as Liam Manning's side secured three points that moves them level with 2nd-placed Wigan Athletic in their quest for automatic promotion to the Championship.

Mohamed Eisa and Scott Twine were on target in either half for the Dons, while the Trotters managed just one shot on target through Amadou Bakayoko shortly before half-time.

Ian Evatt made three changes to the side that started against Lincoln City on Tuesday as Kyle Dempsey, Bakayoko and captain Ricardo Almeida Santos all returned to the line-up.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Will Aimson and Oladapo Afolayan all dropped to the substitutes' bench, with Wanderers looking to get back on track after losing 3-1 at Burton Albion last time they were on the road.

They started slowly, though, as the hosts raced forward at every available opportunity and came close on a number of occasions in the early stages.

First, with nine minutes on the clock, Kaine Kesler Hayden was picked out by a pass from Dean Lewington and turned towards goal, only to see his strike blocked by George Johnston before being cleared to safety by Dempsey.

They then saw a penalty appeal turned down as Lewington was once again involved, finding the run of Eisa, but referee Sebastian Stockbridge ordered play to continue after the Dons forward went to ground under a challenge from Johnston.

Scott Twine thought he had opened the scoring on 14 minutes as his drive came back off the inside of James Trafford's post, but the Trotters goalkeeper was beaten three minutes later as the home side got the goal their early play had merited.

Standing on halfway, Harry Darling took a risk by breaking through the challenge of Dion Charles and into the midfield, where he took aim at goal from 30 yards. His deflected attempt was parried back into dangerous territory by a wrong-footed Trafford, who made an outstanding save to deny Eisa, who kept his composure to slot in at the second attempt.

There were strong appeals for a handball against Eisa, but referee Stockbridge allowed the goal to stand as MK hit the front.

Aaron Morley went into the book for a foul on Tony Parrott soon after the half-hour, before the visitors suddenly burst into life and came so close to getting themselves back on level terms.

Wanderers have discovered a new-found love for set-pieces in recent weeks and almost found the net from another, as Declan John's left-sided corner was headed towards goal by Bakayoko. The travelling supporters momentarily celebrated an equaliser, only to be silenced after coming to the realisation that Jamie Cumming had tipped the ball onto the crossbar before it was cleared to safety.

Bolton continued to press forward before the break and were inches away when Dempsey dragged a shot wide in the closing moments of the half, which ended with MK holding a one-goal advantage.

Uninspired by his team's display inside the opening 45 minutes, Evatt made one change as the players returned for the second period as Afolayan came into the midfield in place of Morley. That saw Dempsey drop back into a holding role alongside MJ Williams, with Afolayan playing just behind the forward line of Charles and Bakayoko.

The change failed to have much of an impact, though, as the Dons sat in and challenged Wanderers to break down a resolute defence.

In fact, it wasn't until soon after the hour that their first sight of goal arrived, with Santos heading over from a John corner.

Evatt made a double change on 72 minutes by throwing Kieran Sadlier and Bodvarsson into the fray, calling time on the afternoons of both John and Bakayoko.

Unfortunately for Bolton, they conceded again just two minutes later as MK put the game to bed.

Kesler-Hayden raced forward to intercept a weak clearance from Trafford, drove into the box and squared for Twine, who stepped inside the challenge of Santos before seeing his deflected strike fly into the net for 2-0.

Twine sent a free-kick narrowly over the top as the hosts went in search of a third with 11 minutes to play, shortly before Trafford was called into action to deny Troy Parrott.

Afolayan flashed a shot inches wide of Cumming's left-hand post with five minutes left on the clock, summing up a disappointing afternoon for the visitors as they left with nothing to show for their efforts.

Bolton remain in 10th position despite their defeat at Stadium MK, although results elsewhere now mean the gap between themselves and the final play-off place stretches to seven points with 11 games left to play.

Wanderers return to action next Saturday when they face relegation-threatened Gillingham at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium.

Milton Keynes Dons: Cumming, Darling, O'Hora, Lewington, Hayden, Coventry, Kasumu (McEachran 76), Watson, Parrott, Eisa (Wickham 64), Twine
Subs Not Used: Ravizzoli, Smith, Kemp, Boateng, Davies
Goals: Eisa 17

Bolton Wanderers: Trafford, Johnston, Santos, Jones, John (Sadlier 72), Morley (Afolayan 45), Williams, Fossey, Dempsey, Bakayoko (Bodvarsson 72), Charles
Subs Not Used: Dixon, Aimson, Thomason, Gordon
Booked: Morley

Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge
Attendance: 10,388

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Accrington Stanley 0 0
2 Barnsley 0 0
3 Bolton Wanderers 0 0
4 Bristol Rovers 0 0
5 Burton Albion 0 0
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2021/22 Player of the Year?
32.58% Oladapo Afolayan
30.96% Gethin Jones
21.72% Ricardo Almeida Santos
5.51% Declan John
4.05% Kieran Lee
3.08% MJ Williams
1.78% Joel Dixon
0.32% George Johnston