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MK Dons 1-2 Forest

7 May 2016

Goals from Chris Cohen and Britt Assombalonga, who both returned from serious injuries this season, handed ten-man Nottingham Forest victory at MK Dons on the final day of the 2015-16 campaign.

Cohen gave The Reds the lead with an early header, his first goal since September 2013, before Nicky Maynard equalised for the hosts.

Assombalonga was introduced in the second half and with 16 minutes to go he scored his first goal since 11 February 2015 - the day he injured his knee against Wigan Athletic - to bring Forest's season to a dramatic and happy end.

A sickness bug in the camp meant Paul Williams had to reshuffle his pack. Chris O'Grady returned to the side up front, while Oliver Burke was handed a start on the right wing.

Henri Lansbury and Dexter Blackstock, who both started against Wolves last week, were unavailable, while Dimitar Evtimov's absence meant Under 18s goalkeeper Jordan Wright was given a spot on the bench for the first time.

Forest started the game strongly on a warm afternoon at stadiummk. Ben Osborn showed a nice stepover to cut in from the left but he didn't catch his shot cleanly, Dons keeper Charlie Burns making a comfortable save.

Matt Mills had a good opportunity to put The Reds ahead three minutes later when Osborn found him from a corner. The centre back connected well with his side-footed volley but Burns was able to make the save.

A minute later, however, The Reds had the lead. Osborn was the architect once again, drifting the ball to the back post for Cohen to meet it with a diving header. The midfielder guided it across Burns and into the net.

It was nearly two on 14 minutes when Eric Lichaj tried his luck from 20 yards. The ball was half-cleared to him following Osborn's corner and he struck it low with the outside of his right boot, fizzing it just wide.

Forest, who were completely dominating the opening exchanges, utilised Burke's pace to keep up their pressure when he raced to the byline and cut the ball into the middle. A Dons defender managed to loop it over his own bar and to safety.

The home side had a surprise equaliser on 19 minutes, however. Samir Carruthers sliced Forest's defence open with a tremendous through ball for winger Josh Murphy, who squared it for Maynard to finish emphatically beyond Dorus de Vries.

That gave the hosts a boost and they twice went close to taking the lead when Joe Walsh headed the ball just over and Murphy sent a shot across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.

And with half-time approaching the Dons' chances of winning increased when Danny Fox was red-carded after sliding in on Jordan Spence. Williams' response was to send centre back Michael Mancienne on for O'Grady, with Cohen moving wide right and Burke up front.

Forest managed to see out the half comfortably and within a minute of the restart Burke was causing problems again, scampering to the byline only to see his cut-back cleared once again.

Osborn nearly scored shortly afterwards, striking the ball powerfully from the edge of the area despite running wide of goal. Burns dived to his left to push it away.

Dorus de Vries was named Forest's Player of the Season earlier in the week and he made an excellent save just after the hour to keep out substitute Ben Reeves' header. Kevin Long nodded the ball wide on the follow-up.

There were huge cheers from the 4,000-strong away following during the subsequent stoppage as Assombalonga took to the field, replacing Robert Tesche.

Clear-cut chances were proving to be few for either side and the next incident of note saw Osborn enter the book for a foul on Carruthers.

The Dons were finding ten-man Forest a tough nut to crack but should perhaps have taken the lead on 68 minutes when Carl Baker picked out Maynard six yards out. The striker could only lift the ball over.

Forest's final change saw Burke replaced by Ryan Mendes with 20 minutes to play. Shortly after play resumed, Reeves curled the ball just wide from distance.

Mendes nearly marked the final match of his loan spell in superb style when he collected the ball in plenty of space down the left. The Cape Verdean wriggled his way infield and into shooting range before skimming the ball along the top of the net and over.

But Forest did have the ball in the net on 74 minutes and there couldn't have been a more popular goalscorer. Osborn showed tremendous skill to beat his man before supplying Assombalonga in the area. The striker rolled it to his right, deceiving the defenders and goalkeeper, before firing it low into the opposite corner.

The visitors had to remain resolute at the back and had de Vries to thank again when he got down low to save on his line from Long.

Four minutes were added on at the end of the match, during which Murphy lashed the ball wide for the hosts.

But Forest held on to claim an excellent three points despite their man disadvantage.

Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills (c), Fox, Jokic, O.Burke (Mendes 68'), Cohen, Tesche (Assombalonga 61'), Gardner, Osborn, O'Grady (Mancienne 40')

Subs not used: J.Wright, Macheda, Vaughan, Grant

Goals: Cohen 8', Assombalonga 74'

Bookings: Osborn 66', Assombalonga 75'

Sent off: Fox 37'

MK DonsBurns, Spence (Reeves 50'), Long, Walsh, Lewington (c), Potter, Carruthers (Jackson 88'), Baker, Bowditch, Murphy, Maynard (Revell 73')

Subs not used: McFadzean, Kasumu, Powell, Furlong

Goal: Maynard 19'

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 15,486 (4,352 away)

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