MK Dons’ first home game of the 2020-21 season in League One saw them suffer a 2-1 defeat to Lincoln City.
Jorge Grant scored a controversial penalty in the opening minutes. The Dons would later equalise at the hour mark, with Joe Mason grabbing a potentially offside goal in response.
Tom Hopper then put Lincoln in front in the final quarter of an hour, and it meant MK Dons sunk to the defeat in their home opener.
After a draw from a dominant performance at Doncaster in the season opener, the Dons had a challenge in the form of Lincoln, who had won all 4 competitive fixtures so far this season.
Michael Appleton’s side also brought the familiar faces of Conor McGrandles and Joe Walsh with them after their summer moves from Milton Keynes to the East Midlands.
An early chance opened up for the home side when Mason was found by Regan Poole, but the striker couldn’t find the net.
That would prove even more costly a few minutes later. A through pass set Hopper clear for Lincoln, and he went down while in-between 2 MK Dons defenders. The referee chose to give a penalty, with sustained home protests that Baily Cargill got the ball not changing his mind, and Grant sent Lee Nicholls the wrong way from 12 yards.
Things nearly got worse, with a fine last-gasp block by Regan Poole seeing the wing-back get to the ball ahead of the waiting Grant for a potential second.
A low quality first half saw MK Dons struggle to create many opportunities in their quest for an equaliser, with the best seeing a Poole free-kick bounce off the wall and a further low drive by the Welshman drift wide.
Lincoln registered the first half’s only shot on target with their penalty, which came inside the opening 10 minutes, and it was a similar amount of time after the break when they created the second one, as Nicholls had to make a great stop to deny Harry Anderson.
The Dons belatedly applied pressure and would eventually grab an equaliser in controversial style. Mason would roll the ball past Lincoln goalkeeper Alex Palmer after he was found by Callum Brittain’s through ball as the Dons continued to attack from a corner. Lincoln were furious and loudly protested offside against Mason, but the goal stood, making it 2 controversial decisions for the day.
The Dons began to see more productive approach play, even if their best chances were coming from range. Substitutes Ben Gladwin and Matty Sorinola had such strikes blocked in quick succession, before a firm hit by Dean Lewington was acrobatically stopped by Palmer.
But although pressure was building from MK Dons, it was Lincoln who had the game’s third goal. Advantage was played after a possible foul by Baily Cargill, and this released Anderson to cross. A misjudgement by Nicholls opened up possibilities for Hopper, who scored to put Lincoln ahead.
It could’ve been worse moments later, as another fast move down the Lincoln right ended in James Jones having space for a shot, but Poole got back to block.
Lincoln had chances to make things worse for the home side, as sub Callum Morton flicked a header wide before his fellow sub Max Melbourne saw a drive saved by Nicholls.
Palmer then made a good save to deny Mason when the ball fell for the striker. But despite enjoying most of the ball in five minutes added on, there was no way through and no way back for the Dons.
MK Dons: Nicholls – O’Hora, Lewington, Cargill – Poole (Fraser 86), Brittain, Houghton, Kasumu (Gladwin 73), Harvie (Sorinola 65) – Morris, Mason
Subs: Walker, Fraser, Sorensen, Nombe, Freeman
Goal: Mason (60)
Booked: Harvie, Houghton, Brittain, Kasumu
Lincoln: Palmer – Eyoma, Montsma, Jackson, Roughan (Melbourne 66) – McGrandles, Bridcutt (Morton 66), Jones – Grant, Hopper, Anderson
Subs: Ross, Edun, Scully, Archibald, Walsh
Goal: Grant (pen 11), Hopper (79)
Booked: Jones, Morton, Eyoma