NORWICH City were held to a 0-0 draw by Karl Robinson’s Milton Keynes Dons at StadiumMK on Friday night in another tough pre-season workout for Chris Hughton’s side.
Robert Snodgrass came in to play his first full 90 minutes in a yellow shirt as despite some intense City pressure, the Canaries were unable to break down a strong Dons defence.
Snodgrass and Simeon Jackson shared City’s best chances in the first half, whilst Steve Morison’s half-volley was brilliantly saved by David Martin late to keep the scores level.
Hughton named summer signings Snodgrass and Michael Turner in his starting line-up against the Dons, with Declan Rudd starting in goal, as well as attackers Jackson, Chris Martin, and Morison.
There was also room on the bench for under-18s defender Harry Barker and winger Josh Murphy.
It looked to be a 4-5-1 formation for City from the kick-off, with Steve Morison up top, but it was a slow opening ten minute from both sides - a tame long-range effort by Jackson in the second minute being the only chance of note.
Snodgrass and Jackson were both looking threatening early on though, and when the latter was brought down in the corner, Snodgrass swung a beautiful free kick in left-footed. The Canadian rose brilliantly to meet it, however he couldn’t keep his header down.
City were beginning to grow into the game, and Jackson almost gave the Canaries a lead - courtesy of a deflection. He broke down the left on 19 minutes and fired a low cross in that Mathias Kouo-Doumbe failed to deal with, and was fortunate to see the ball land on the roof of the net after a scuffed clearance.
On the half-hour mark in was Snodgrass again who sparked City into life with an exquisite pass with the outside of his left foot that fooled the defence and found Morison in the area. The striker got a shot away but brave ‘keeping from Martin denied the Welshman a goal.
Jackson and Snodgrass then both went close with good efforts, before George Francomb’s dangerous 39th minute cross fell to Chris Martin, whose cut back went just behind the incoming Jackson.
Just before half-time, City’s Canadian international did well to keep Snodgrass’ cross alive on the left, and put it back in for Morison, whose flick was headed back across goal by Francomb, only for MK Dons to scramble the ball clear of danger.
Andrew Surman then set up Morison for a thunderous shot shortly before the break, but it was heroically charged down by an MK Dons defender as the sides went in all-square.
HALF-TIME - MK Dons 0, Norwich City 0
Hughton stuck with the same side for the second half, whilst Robinson switched Adam Chicksen for Jay O’Shea for the Dons, who came out much improved.
First Stephen Gleeson stung the palms of Rudd with a long ranger, before substitute O’Shea cut inside from the left and forced a wonderful full-stretch save from the City ‘keeper to deny him a spectacular goal.
In the 58th minute City came agonisingly close to opening the scoring through Turner, who rose brilliantly to meet Snodgrass’s corner from the right, only to see Martin pull off a great save to deny him a goal.
The Dons responded through substitute Daniel Powell, whose rasping drive was palmed away well by Rudd, but into the path of Luke Chadwick. Fortunately for City, the former Manchester United player was unable to bury the follow up.
Hughton then made his first change on 65 minutes, replacing Turner with Ryan Bennett – a solid debut from the new signing from Sunderland.
Chances were becoming few and far between as the game went on, and despite some great build-up play, the Canaries were still unable to break down a stubborn MK Dons defence.
Leon Barnett then planted a header over the bar in the 78th minute, as Hughton replaced Jackson with U18s player Josh Murphy – a first outing with the first team squad for him.
Both sides pushed for that winning goal at StadiumMK, and after Morison went agonisingly close with a powerful half-volley in stoppage time, the referee blew the final whistle on a useful 0-0 draw with the Dons.
FULL-TIME - MK Dons 0, Norwich City 0
MK DONS - Martin, Chicksen (O’Shea 46), Kouo-Doumbe, Makenzie, Lewington, Potter (Lowe 78), Gleeson, Williams, Chadwick (Ibehre 73), Smith (MacDonald 55), Bowditch (Powell 62)
SUBS - McLoughlin, MacDonald, Lowe, Powell, Ibehre, O'Shea, Burton
CITY - Rudd, Francomb, Barnett, Turner (R. Bennett 65), Lappin, Surman, Hoolahan, Snodgrass, Jackson (Josh Murphy 79), C. Martin, Morison
SUBS - Matthews, R. Bennett, Barker, Johnson, E. Bennett, Josh Murphy
REFEREE - Any Woolmer (Northampton)
ATTENDANCE - 4,814 (845 away)