Dons too clever for Canaries

Norwich City Res 1, MK Dons Res 2: A young Canaries second string were undone by the most experienced campaigner on the park last night as they went down to a surprise defeat at Carrow Road.

Norwich City Res 1, MK Dons Res 2: A young Canaries second string were undone by the most experienced campaigner on the park last night as they went down to a surprise defeat at Carrow Road.

Leon Knight, who has more than 200 league appearances under his belt in a sometimes troubled career in the lower divisions, set up the visitors' opener and then tempted Robert Eagle into a rash challenge which earned them a penalty from which City just couldn't find a way back.

It was tough on City, although the latest player face to hit the headlines - 16-year-old Kris Renton - missed a golden opportunity to stake a claim for a record-breaking first team start when he skewed an injury-time effort wide of the target.

Both sides traded punches without landing anything like a decent blow in a first half most notable for the tussle between Knight and City defender Paul McLean.

The Scot was left with a bloody nose after Knight appeared to elbow him in an aerial challenge, but got his own back on 31 minutes when he scythed his way through the Dons' striker, earning himself a yellow card from Norwich official Darren Cann.

Jamie Eames fired a yard over soon after while McLean did well to nick the ball off the foot of John Hastings. But it was Knight who provided the highlight down on the left touchline, when he controlled keeper Ademole Bankole's punt, turned and found Jonny Hayes with a terrific pass - only to see his team-mate denied by the feet of keeper Steven Arnold.

Most Read

Seven minutes after the break City were a goal down after Hayes played Knights in down the left. Knights' cross found Hastings, but although Arnold saved well he was unable to prevent Hayes putting in the rebound. The lead lasted less than 10 minutes as Andrew Cave-Brown - whose presence at right back would have been a welcome sight for the watching City boss Peter Grant - slid a ball down the inside right channel where Adam Kent missed it completely. Patrick Bexfield saw his chance, nipped in and slid the ball past Bankole.

It gave City renewed hope, with Eames flashing a right-foot curler just wide, but on 71 minutes the visitors were gifted the winner.

Damon Lathrope and McLean got in each other's way as they tried to clear the ball and their indecision allowed Knight a free run into the penalty area. Knight was going away from goal and all Eagle had to do was shepherd him away from danger - instead, he jumped in and got enough of Knight to send him to the floor. The rest was easy - Arnold went the right way but there was no stopping Hayes' spot kick.

Eames sent another right-footer narrowly wide of Bankole's left-hand post while Seb Muddell's shot through a crowded area was equally close to his right-hand woodwork.

In time added on Renton could and should have done better when a cross from the left eluded everyone, but he snatched at his shot and the ball trickled harmlessly wide.

Norwich: Arnold, Cave-Brown, Quaye, McLean, Eagle, Eames, Bexfield, Lathrope, Smart, Renton, Muddell (Daley 76). Subs not used: Miller, O'Toole. Booking: McLean, 32, foul on Knight. Goal: Bexfield 61.

MK Dons: Bankole, Kent, Collins, Lovegrove, Watts, Nash, Hayes (Williams 90), Moriarty, Hastings, Knight (Kelly 80), Jarrett (Suhter 80). Subs not used: Koffi, Walker. Goals: Hayes 52, 71 pen. Bookings: Kent, 66, foul on Smart.

Referee: Darren Cann (Norwich).

Att: 1,286.