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Old Actonians 1 Milton Keynes Dons 6
Milton Keynes Dons gave a very convincing display in their South East Combination match at Gunnersbury, beating hosts Old Actonians 6-1.
A Heather McDonnell hat-trick and further goals from Lauren Goodier, Emily Mason and Nikki Tarrant overwhelmed the divisional newcomers who have now lost six in a row after an opening day success over Crystal Palace.
The match was marked by some excellent long range goals and both sides tried to attack throughout, but the visitors had too much pace and invention for the Old A's defence to cope with. Dons sparked into life straight from the kick off, missing two golden opportunities within the first two minutes.
Actonians scored from their first attack on seven minutes, Natalie Arbuckle driving an excellent 25-yard shot past Charlene Ward but this was met with a further series of Dons attacks. Tarrant shot over, Goodier headed over, McDonnell hit the side netting and Ellis Kerr brilliantly turned over a 20-yard shot from Hannah Barrett - all before the quarter hour mark.
MK had a goal ruled out for offside before Goodier tapped in from a McDonnell shot which had struck the underside of the bar on 19 minutes. Kerr made another fine save from Goodier at point blank range as Dons fashioned chance after chance with outstanding passing, movement and crossing.
Goodier struck the woodwork with a cross shot from 35 yards but Actonians bravely battled back and seemed to have weathered the storm until McDonnell broke clear and finished calmly on 38 minutes to give Dons the lead.
Again Actionians responded, striker turned defender Chelsea Berlin, whose performance during the whole match was outstanding, drove in a 40-yard free kick which Ward did well to hold and Arbuckle threatened the Dons goal on three occasions either side of the break as the home side had their best spell.
Dons made the game safe on the hour with two goals, Charlotte Wright crossing for Tarrant then substitute Kelly Bingham setting up a headed finish for McDonnell. Another substitute, Emily Mason, struck the bar with a snap shot on 70 minutes.
Actonians battled on, with Berlin and Kerri Coombs defending valiantly and Kerr handling the ball very impressively and two further late goals were harsh on the the hosts. A penalty gave McDonnell her third before Mason scored a superb 25-yarder to round off the day.
MK Dons will surely challenge the likes of Enfield, Luton, Tottenham and Norwich City for the honours as the season progresses. Old Actonians have done really well to reach the third tier and showed good spirit but may well face a season long battle to maintain their status with a senior squad limited in experience at Combination level.
Old Actonians: Ellis Kerr, Anna Redstone, Kelly Doyle. Natalie Arbuckle, Chelsea Berlin, Linda Fox, Nathalie Randell, Hannah Pearson, Harriet Muncey, Lydia Amarquoge, Kerri Coombs. Subs: Carla Williams.
Milton Keynes Dons: Charlene Ward, Lisa Burrows, Kelly Robinson, Jo Brandon, Christie Turner, Heather McDonnell, Nikki Tarrant, Charlotte Wright, Hannah Barrett, Caroline Moran, Lauren Goodier. Subs: Emily Mason, Rachael O'Connor, Kelly Bingham.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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