DONS dropped two points at the Ricoh Arena on a night which will have many travelling fans pointing fingers at the attackers.
The 1-1 draw with Coventry City should have been a whitewash, but for some no-existent shooting when trying to walk the ball in.
After a frantic start, and a Charlie MacDonald shot off the post, Richard Wood fired a bullet header past David Martin on 33 minutes to put Coventry ahead against the run of play, before Stephen Gleeson’s deflected effort just before the break levelled things for the away side.
In the second half, Dons’ shot-shy strike force had three golden opportunities to put the game to bed as City looked worthy of their place in the relegation zone. But despite chances and possession, once again fans were left driving home scratching their heads with despair.
After Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra, Karl Robinson made two changes to the starting line-up – in came Daniel Powell and Jon Otsemobor at the expense of Adam Chicksen and Jay O’Shea. Dons were of course also without Jimmy Bullard, whose knee injury was worse than first suspected, forcing him to announce his retirement from the game on Monday.
The Sky Blues, starting the evening 22nd in the table, got off to the brighter start, with Carl Baker forcing Martin into a decent stop low to his left with less than two minutes on the clock.
Antony Kay was given a tough time in the early stages – first he gave the ball away and was forced to haul down Gary McSheffrey on the edge of the box, before he somehow managed to get away with a blatant handball in the penalty area, with referee Robert Madley waving play on.
Dons were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty of their own in a frantic opening nine minutes when MacDonald got in behind the Coventry defence, dinked the ball around keeper Joe Murphy, but was checked by the stopper, preventing him from retrieving the ball to put it into the empty net.
Straight back up the other end, David McGoldrick out-paced Kay and forced Martin into a low save out for a corner.
And the chances kept on coming as Franck Moussa and Baker both wasted decent chances for the home side, while Dons looked for Powell out wide, who was enjoying plenty of space to get at left-back Jamie Reckord.
As the game began to settle, Dons got the ball down and began to play their game at their tempo, exploiting the acres of space Powell and Dean Bowditch were given on the flanks.
And the best chance of the game came from the boys in red after 29 minutes. MacDonald brilliantly chested the ball down, wrong footing Wood and giving himself time to hit the shot. On the half-volley, MacDonald’s shot had the keeper beaten, but the ball struck the outside of the post bouncing harmlessly away.
A minute later, Bowditch had another great chance from Powell’s deep cross, but his strike was pounced on by Murphy. And just as it looked as though Dons were on top, Coventry went ahead as Wood rose highest to meet McSheffrey’s 33rd minute corner, giving Martin no chance and leaving the visitors a goal down.
It didn’t seem to affect Dons though, as they continued to look better on the ball. Powell created a half-chance down the right which almost had Murphy beaten, but the ball couldn’t quite make it through to MacDonald as it was scooped out by the City defence.
Dons though were level three minutes before the interval when Gleeson’s rifled shot from 20 yards took a deflection on the way through, sending Murphy the wrong way and bounced gently into the back of the Coventry net.
And Dons took their momentum into the second half, looking by far the more likely to net the next goal. Gleeson whipped an outrageous 50-yard pass to Bowditch, who controlled it on his chest and made a break forward, but shot just wide of the upright five minutes into the half. And Powell should have done better from the right, failing to pick out a furious MacDonald in the middle two minutes later.
Dons put together a brilliant move on the hour mark, but it culminated in the age old Dons problem – no-one wanted to shoot. Bowditch worked his way to the edge of the box, passed to Luke Chadwick, who in turn passed to Darren Potter, still on the edge of the area. And the midfielder cut back on to his left foot, but chipped the ball to Powell who couldn’t control his volley as it sailed off into the stands.
Five minutes later and Dons really should have been a goal up, but once again looked petrified in front of goal. Dean Lewington broke down the left and fed Powell in the area. He made is way past three defenders before pulling back to MacDonald. With time, the striker cut back on his defender, and hesitated, allowing Coventry to get back and put men on the line. When MacDonald did finally pull the trigger, it was straight at William Edjenguele, and cleared to safety.
Rightly, Karl Robinson and coach Ian Wright were livid down in the dugout, and somewhat stunned that their side were not winning the game. Instantly, Ryan Lowe, Alan Smith and Scott Allan were all sent out to warm up.
As the Ricoh Arena crowd began to get on their players’ backs, it lifted Dons. Looking supremely confident on the ball, they carved out so many half-chances in a vain bid to edge their noses in front. It just wasn’t happening though.
Mark Robins made his three changes, and it was last substitute Callum Ball who forced Martin into using his hands for the first time in the second half with 12 minutes remaining. He rose above Kay to meet Reckord’s cross, but the Dons keeper made a comfortable save. This was a close as City would come.
But this was as close as Dons would come too. Lowe’s introduction in stoppage time came too late to have an affect on proceedings. Four minutes of stoppage time didn’t help the visitors, who will surely see this as two points dropped when they should have been clear winners.
Referee: R Madley
Attendance: 9,848 (697)
Coventry City: Murphy, Baker, McSheffrey (Fleck, 68), Barton (Ball, 78), Christie, Wood, Edjenguele (Cameron, 68), McGoldrick, Moussa, Reckord, Bailey
Subs not used: Dunn, Hussey, Willis, Henerdon
MK Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Lewington, Williams, Kay, Gleeson, Potter, Bowditch, Chadwick (O’Shea, 72), Powell (Lowe, 90), MacDonald (Smith, 80)
Subs not used: McLoughin, Doumbe, Smith, Chicksen, Lowe, Allan
Booked: McSheffrey, Kay