Gravesend & Northfleet 0-2 MK Dons

Wednesday 26th July 2006

Pre-Season Friendly
Wednesday 26th July 2006
Stephen McCartney reports from Stonebridge Road

Gravesend & Northfleet manager Liam Daish is still searching for a reliable goalkeeper after trialist Alan Brookes gifted MK Dons - and striker John Hastings - two goals at Stonebridge Road tonight.

The ex-Millwall goalkeeper was guilty of gifting the League Two side both goals, despite the Nationwide Conference side, now benefiting from full-time training, playing attractive football, especially in the first half when they created a whole host of chances.

Playing against a side containing a reported three first team players, the Fleet set their stall out from the start, going close inside the opening four minutes when Rob Quinn shot over from 16-yards after MK Dons failed to deal with John Keeling’s free kick.

But Daish’s side looked sharper and have benefited from full-time training and fans will go home tonight looking forward a bright season here at Stonebridge Road.

Another chance came the Kent side’s way after 14 minutes but defender Ross Smith looped a header over following Sacha Opinel’s free kick from the right.

And Danny Slatter got the better of some slack defending from MK Dons’ Sam Collins, but the former Welling United star blazed his shot over when well placed.

The Fleet created their best chance from their first corner of the game after 24 minutes.

Keeling’s right-footed corner was met at the far post by the unmarked James Smith, whose powerful header flew agonisingly past the left upright.

Gravesend & Northfleet tested MK Dons’ goalkeeper Adolfo Baines, who already dropped two crosses, when he got down low to deny Charlie MacDonald’s stroked effort from eight-yards out.

MK Dons created their first opening on the half-hour mark but Collins’ volley from the edge of the box went well wide of the left post.

Gareth Edds, Ben Chorley and Alex Tapp were the three first team players for the Milton Keynes based side. If this was their full first team squad, then both clubs could be playing in the same league next season!

Another chance came Fleet’s way on the stroke of half-time when James Smith rose to head Keeling’s corner over.

But a howler from the Gravesend & Northfleet’s trialist goalkeeper in the 50th minute gifted MK Dons the lead - against the run of play and from their first shot on target.

John Hastings, who was top scorer for Ryman League Division One club Tooting & Mitcham United last season, collected a poor clearance from the goalkeeper and his shot sailed into the net to stun the Stonebridge Road faithful.

MacDonald then drilled a free kick past the MK Dons wall, on the edge of the penalty area, but Baines made a comfortable low save.

After a slower start to the second half, Fleet burst into life halfway through the second half with ex-Grays Athletic man Mark Debolla driving past the far post.

And after forcing three successive corners, Ross Smith’s powerful header crashed against the MK Dons crossbar from Keeling’s corner kick.

Debolla went closer on 70 minutes when his 25-yard drive brought a fine low save from the visiting goalkeeper, who then comfortably saved Danny Ekoku’s low drive.

But Fleet goalkeeper Brookes gifted another goal to Hastings when he came rushing off his line, missed the ball completely, allowing the striker the opportunity to slot into an empty goal.

Daish will, however, take plenty of positives from the game, in which his side impressed during their one and only home pre-season friendly.

Gravesend & Northfleet: Alan Brookes, Peter Hawkins, Sacha Opinel, Mark Debolla, James Smith (Paul McCarthy 75), Ross Smith, Danny Slatter, Robert Quinn, Danny Ekoku, Charlie MacDonald (Chris Anderson 75), John Keeling (George Purcell 75)

Subs: Luke Moore, Lee Carey, Jermaine Boyce, Jack Roberts.


MK Dons: Adolfo Baines, Gareth Edds, Sam Collins, Ben Chorley, Kieran Murphy, Sam Page, Adam Kent, Alex Tapp, John Hastings, Joe Howe, Joe Tillen.
Subs: Oliver Thorne, Matt Baker, Stephane Koffi, Ted Day, James Nash.

Goals: John Hastings 50, 77

Attendance: 329
Referee: Mr Mick McCoy (Herne Bay)
Assistants: Mr Ian Fissenden and Mr Simon Finnegan