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Defiant Dons delay title decision
 Women's Football News 11 May 2015
 
Defiant Dons delay title decision - 11 May 2015 - Women's Football NewsMilton Keynes Dons 2 C & K Basildon 1
Milton Keynes Dons completed their FA Women's Premier League South East Division One season with a vital 2-1 victory over C & K Basildon to replace them at the top of the table. 
 
In an intense, exciting and sometimes fiery encounter at StadiumMK in front of a large crowd, two first half goals gave the Dons victory. Despite intense pressure from C & K, their only reward was a single Zoe Rushen goal deep into added time. C & K now have a home match next Sunday with fellow title contenders Crystal Palace from which they need a point to take the title on goal difference.
 
C & K pressed forward from the start but were given a scare when Charly Wright went close after a defensive slip left her through on goal after ten minutes. The chief threat in a tight encounter came from Amy Nash's corner deliveries which caused danger in front of Emma Kirby's goal. The ball flew across the Dons' penalty area on several occasions but each time a defensive head or foot managed to clear the danger .
 
At the other end, Mel Kinsalla was twice quickly off her line to clear through passes but generally the greater threat was at the other end. Kirby made a fine save from a powerful Sara Sinclair shot taken as she burst clear on the right on 36 minutes.
 
Within a minute the hosts were ahead after their first corner, Heather McDonnell firing home the loose ball from fifteen yards. The lead was doubled four minutes later when a Wright free kick taken centrally from 40 yards came back off the bar only for Claire Hollingsworth to react quickest and nod home from close range.
 
C & K pressed again and Porter was denied a goal by an offside decision whilst another Nash corner was scrambled off the line to preserve MK's two goal lead at the break.
 
Only fine defensive cover by Nicola Carty prevented a third home goal soon after the restart but C & K gradually ramped up the pressure as the match moved towards the hour. Claire Lacey had a header which hit the underside of the bar on 58 minutes and Kirby was injured in bravely smothering the rebound. Lauren Goodier made a crucial goal line headed clearance as another inswinging corner seemed sure to go in. Zoe Rushen was just wide when played in on the left and Nash took the ball past Kirby only to be crowded out.
 
Dons were still dangerous on the break, but C & K kept going close to reducing the deficit. Merrick Will had a long range effort go close, Kirby held a Karissa Rodney lob under her bar and sub Maegan Doyle had an effort just over. Sinclair got clean through on 80 minutes but shot over under pressure from the advancing Dons keeper.
 
As time ran out, Dons nearly got a third, Wright's shot dropping on the roof of the net. It was C & K who finally found the net in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Rushen drove home a loose ball from ten yards. Attempts to retrieve the ball for a quick restart led to a scuffle involving several players, not the first incident in a passionate match with high stakes.
 
The home team saw out time successfully and received deserved applause on the final whistle for a strong and resolute team effort against talented and committed opponents. Keeper Kirby had a fine match, especially in the second half, and centre backs Hollingsworth and Leanna Doyle stood strong under intense pressure.
 
C & K will look to clinch the title at home but will be wary of next Sunday's opponents Crystal Palace, whose match with Norwich City was postponed and who lie six points behind leaders MK Dons with two games left. 
 
Milton Keynes Dons: Emma Kirby, Louise Naylor, Kara Howes, Leah Cudone, Claire Hollingsworth, Leanna Doyle, Kelly Bingham, Charly Wright, Heather McDonnell, Lauren Goodier, Charly Clarke. Subs: Sophie Watson, Andi Dickens, Elena Lancaster, Chiara Clarke, Leanne Burns.

C & K Basildon: Mel Kinsalla, Nicola Carty, Megan Lawler, Claire Lacey, Hannah Porter, Carly Eagles, Merrick Will, Amy Nash, Zoe Rushen, Karissa Rodney, Sara Sinclair. Subs: Chelsea Hinz, Maegan Doyle, Karen Stephanou, Amelia Southgate, Rebecca Smith.

(Report by Patrick Higgins)

Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:

(top) Claire Lacey heads goalwards for Basildon
(middle) Amy Nash is grounded by Lauren Goodier and Charly Clarke
(bottom) Clare Hollingsworth heads the second goal past Mel Kinsalla


 
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