Former Don Sam Baldock once again proved the thorn in the side as he scored twice to claw back a 2-2 draw at Ashton Gate.
He should have had even more from his afternoon, but he squandered several early chances before Shaun Williams fired Dons ahead after 16 minutes. Ben Reeves made it 2-0 10 minutes before half time - a scoreline that really flattered the visitors.
But a brace from Baldock, taking his total against his former club to four this season, overhauled the deficit to salvage a point for City.
There was just one change to the Dons side that took FA Cup holders Wigan to extra time on Tuesday night, with goal-scorer Luke Chadwick making way for Chris Long up front.
City, who started the day 23rd in League 1, were almost ahead after just 90 seconds when Scott Wagstaff beat the offside trap to race clear, but saw his effort half blocked by David Martin. With the ball still loose, Wagstaff, who had been floored by Martin’s save, swung a leg at it, but it was deflected into the path of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. With an open goal, he shot straight at Antony Kay, who had made a covering run back on to the line.
Most of Ashton Gate would’ve put their houses on Sam Baldock scoring his chance two minutes later. Wagstaff again broke down the City right, and his deep cross to the far post was met by Baldock, but sensationally he headed wide, when most thought he’d netted.
The Dons defence was caught napping for a third time in the opening five minutes, when Baldock broke down the right once again, beating the offside trap on the halfway line, but took it too wide, cutting the angle for Martin, who made a comfortable save with his feet.
But for all their pressure, it was Dons who took the lead. Slowly finding their feet and working their way into the game, Shaun Williams found himself in the penalty area to latch on to Ben Reeves’ lofted ball into the box and after chesting past Adam El-Abd, he delightfully bent the ball around Elliot Parish with the outside of his left boot, putting the away side 1-0 to the good 16 minutes in.
It should have been level a minute later when Greg Cunningham raced clear of the static Dons defence, but rather than squaring to the unmarked Baldock in the centre, he went himself but shot straight at Martin.
The goal certainly calmed the nerves for the visitors after a very shaky start. But the defence’s high line kept playing them into trouble. On two more occasions, Baldock beat the trap 35 yards from goal and was allowed all the time in the world to line up a strike on goal, but fortunately for Dons, Martin was proving to be a match for the former Dons striker.
It should have been 2-0 on the half hour though, when Dean Lewington found himself completely unmarked five yards out, meeting Stephen Gleeson’s deep corner, but his header was well over the bar.
The travelling supporters didn’t have to wait long before it was 2-0 though, as six minutes later, Reeves doubled the advantage. Gleeson’s quick free kick on half way found Carruthers in the centre of the park with plenty of room to run in to. But he quickly rolled in Ben Reeves, who let the ball come across his body before lifting it nicely over Parish for an unlikely 2-0 lead.
Chris Long, making only his second professional appearance, found himself on the periphery for a lot of the match, but could have made a real impact seven minutes after the restart when he shrugged off Aden Flint’s attentions to race clear. Parish was quick off his line though, and got a block to Long’s shot.
City were given a lifeline back into the game though, and it came from a hefty slice of luck for the home side. As Dons looked to clear the ball up field, it took a big deflection off a Bristol shirt, falling kindly for Baldock in behind. With Martin hesitant to come, Baldock pounced and rifled the ball high into the net, halfing the deficit.
Dons’ defence was a far more organised unit in the second period, and it dramatically reduced the number of chances City were able to create. It didn’t stop them from trying their arm though, with Emmanuel-Thomas and Cunningham both coming close.
At the other end, Dons’ two substitutes Dean Bowditch and Luke Chadwick were almost fighting over Reeves’ cross, nearly colliding with each other at the far post. The ball was eventually brought down by Bowditch, but he scooped his volley over the top.
But City were level with 14 minutes remaining, and it was that man Baldock again with the final touch. Tyrone Barnett rose high to nod down a corner, and the former Dons striker got a toe to the ball, poking it through Lee Hodson’s legs on the line. His celebration looked like one of sheer frustration being let out, having squandered several chances earlier in the game.
The equaliser certainly sparked life into Dons after a standoffish half up to that point. Long managed to get in behind the Bristol defence but was too wide to take a decent shot, while Bowditch too managed to beat the offside trap after a superb 70-yard ball over from Kay, but he miscued his strike and spun it wide.
George Baldock was introduced late in the day and he was just inches away from netting when Parish spilled Shaun Williams’ spectacular 35 yard volley, but he managed to pounce before the Dons midfielder could get a toe to it.
The sheer volume of chances City created, particularly in the first half, on reflection would suggest the home side deserved a point, though defensively, Dons looked very shaky all afternoon.
The result sees Dons remain 10th, six points from the play-off spots.
Referee: David Phillips
Attendance: 11, 533 (380)
Bristol City: Parish, Flint, Baldock, Emmanuel-Thomas (Barnett 75), Wagstaff, Reid (Burns 75), Cunningham, Ed-Abd, Pack, Gillett, Osborne (Derrick Williams 45)
Subs not used: Fielding, Moloney, Bryan, Elliot
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Hodson, Shaun Williams, Kay, Potter, Gleeson, Reeves (George Baldock 866), Powell (Bowditch 57), Carruthers (Chadwick 68), Long
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Smith, McLeod
Booked: Kay, Martin, Potter