Doncaster 0-0 MK Dons: Honours even in Keepmoat stalemate

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IT wasn’t the prettiest, but Dons and Doncaster stopped their respective rots with a gritty 0-0 draw at the Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday.

With both teams lacking top form, neither keeper needed to be at their sharpest though Gary Woods was the busier of the two, stopping Izale McLeod’s best effort in the first half to keep things level.

Adam Chicksen squandered a three-on-one break late in the game, but a share of the points suits both teams down to the ground after their disappointing run of form lately.

Alan Smith and Chris Lines dropped to the bench following Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Oldham, with Izale McLeod and Luke Chadwick coming back into the starting 11. Dons went into the game looking to stop the rot, having picked up only one League 1 victory since New Year’s Day, while Doncaster too were eager to get back to winning ways, losing their last two.

The opening 15 minutes passed quickly, but without much incident – a decent midfield battle with both looking keen to gets the ball down and into the attacking third.

Dons shaded the early chances too, with Chadwick’s first time effort skipping wide, and McLeod’s strike hitting the wrong side of the net, though the Dons fans on the far side weren’t to know that as they leapt in celebration, only to quickly return to their seats in realisation.

And it was the away side that continued to take the game to their opponents. A great run from Chadwick slipped Powell through down the middle, who in turn fed McLeod though his strike again bent the wrong side of the post – the striker finally looking composed in front of goal since his move from Portsmouth.

Dons looked well in control. Harley looked a new man compared to his jaunt on Saturday, more at home alongside Potter than in the hole behind the striker. The Rovers midfield was made to chase to get near the ball, and David Martin was barely called upon in the opening half hour.

McLeod almost broke his duck with nine minutes remaining in the half, capitalising on Jamie McCombe’s mistake on half way to run clear on goal, but Gary Woods stood tall in the Doncaster net, waiting patiently for the striker’s shot before palming it out behind for a corner.

Things sparked into life with five minutes to go, with Jon Otsemobor making space for a free header only to direct it well over the top, before Billy Paynter speared one into the empty stand behind Martin’s goal after pouncing on the loose ball in the box.

Dons came out of the dressing rooms in the second half looking for a repeat performance of the first, ideally with a goal thrown in for good measure. And they almost had it when Harley and Potter started a brilliant move with some slick one-touch passing in the centre, releasing McLeod, Chadwick and then Powell before the latter saw his shot deflected wide.

Doncaster too looked more up for the fight in the second period though as they began to put together some nice pieces of play worthy of a side potentially taking over at the top of League 1. They did so however without really causing Martin any trouble.

Chadwick was once again playing the puppeteer like he’d never been away, central to so many of Dons’ forward moves. His quick feet and swift passing was beginning to get under the home supporters’ skin as they grew restless at watching their side fail to make an impression. They’d get their wish though, with Chadwick replaced with 16 minutes to go.

It looked more and more like a 0-0 thriller when Dean Bowditch collected McLeod’s net lay off but blazed over with 12 minutes to go – one of few clear cut chances as the game closed out.

Adam Chicksen, Chadwick’s replacement had the best of those chances though. With four minutes to go, the impressive McLeod raced away with Powell and Chicksen in support, opting for the latter with his pass, but a great block from James Harper saw it safely behind for a corner.

A share of the points was probably fair enough for both sides, with neither having the edge over the other and neither keeper really worked to keep warm.

The draw sees Dons climb to 12th in the table.

Referee: David Webb

Attendance: 6,423 (180)

Doncaster Rovers: Gary Woods, Quinn, Spurr, McCombe, Jones, Martin Woods, Griffin (Harper 46), Cotterill, Coppinger, Husband, Paynter (Sinclair 70)

Subs not used: Maxted, Martis, Bennett, Wakefield, Fowler

MK Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Lewington, MacKenzie, Williams, Potter, Harley, Chadwick (Chicksen 74), Powell, Bowditch, McLeod

Subs not used: Doumbe, Smith, Flanagan, Baldock, Lines

Booked: Martin Woods, MacKenzie