Memory match: MK Dons v PNE

Neil Mellor (No.33) congratulates goalscorer Paul Parry
Neil Mellor (No.33) congratulates goalscorer Paul Parry
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Preston North End’s first meeting with MK Dons ended with a victory against the odds.

The Lilywhites ventured to stadium:mk in December 2011, having sacked Phil Brown four days earlier.

Graham Alexander and David Unsworth were in joint caretaker charge and had the task of guiding PNE back to winning ways.

They did so, North End becoming the first side to win at Milton Keynes that season.

An early goal from Paul Parry was enough to deliver the three points in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

It was a lead they had to hang on to somewhat but no one could begrudge them the three points.

Alexander and Unsworth had made three changes to the side which had been held to a goalless draw by Stevenage the week before.

Paul Coutts returned to the starting XI after illness, and was made skipper, the other returnees being Iain Hume and Steven Smith.

Coutts should have been awarded a penalty in only the fifth minute when he went down under a challenge from Dean Lewington.

There was contact but he was booked by referee Andre Marriner for simulation.

Within two minutes of that injustice, North End scored what turned out to be their winning goal.

Danny Mayor got room down the right wing and put over a cross which Parry met at the far post and headed past MK goalkeeper David Martin.

It was a lead they almost doubled soon after, Neil Mellor breaking forward on the counter attack and playing in the supporting Coutts.

The Scotsman hit a low shot which clipped the outside of the post and flew wide.

North End kept up their pressure with a Mayor cross whipped away from Mellor as he shaped to shoot by a great covering challenge by Mark Beevers.

It took until the 20th minute for Thorsten Stuckmann to be tested, the keeper diving to hold a Lewington free-kick.

The half-hour mark proved a significant point in Mellor’s career, the PNE striker limping off after twisting his knee.

Later it materialised that he had suffered serious knee cartilage damage, and after one brief appearance as a substitute three months later, he called it a day at the end of the season.

In the latter stages of the first half there were chances at both ends, Hume firing over the bar from 25 yards and Dean Bowditch sending a 
free-kick too high.

MK Dons came on strong in the second half as they looked to preserve an unbeaten home record.

Stuckmann saved from Adam Smith and Stephen Gleeson, then dived to parry an effort from Luke Chadwick.

Hume was replaced by Juvhel Tsoumou, and Conor McLaughlin replaced the injured Parry, as North End dug in to protect the lead.

Gleeson put a shot just wide with five minutes left while a poor touch at the other end by Tsoumou let him down after Adam Barton’s ball had put him clear.

McLaughlin almost added to PNE’s advantage four minutes into stoppage time, his shot from 20 yards hitting the post.