TUESDAY night’s game with Sheffield United was made even more important after Dons lost further ground to the League 1 leading group after Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Scunthorpe at stadium:mk.
Chances came at a premium, but Dons probably deserved more from the game than Scunthorpe, but with neither keeper really tested, a draw looks the fairest result.
Karl Robinson named an unchanged side after last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bournemouth. Jabo Ibehre returned from injury to make the substitutes bench.
The opening 15 minutes flew by in real end-to-end fashion. Scunthorpe arguably shaded the possession count, though it was Dons who looked more deadly going forward with Dean Bodwitch and Angelo Balanta getting into some great areas in the final third. Clinton Morrison also looked like he was through on goal, but the offside flag pulled play back.
David Martin was forced into action when Bobby Grant’s fierce shot from the edge of the box had to be tipped over, but it was as close as the visitors had some in the opening 20 minutes.
Scunthorpe came close again when Martin raced off his line to collect the ball, only to be beaten to it by Chris Dagnall. After pinging around in the area, the ball eventually made it back to Oliver Norwood, but his shot was deflected out by Dean Lewington.
The opener nearly came on the half hour and from the most unlikely of sources. Adam Smith took it past three Scunthorpe defenders before bursting into the box and firing a hard strike, but keeper Sam Slocombe was able to palm it away for a corner.
Mark Beevers could’ve had his first goal for Dons eight minutes before the break when he rose highest to meet Balanta’s cross, but his header came crashing back off the crossbar and it was cleared away before Morrison could get on the end of the rebound.
Beevers could’ve scored at the wrong end four minutes later when he threw himself in front of a Scunthorpe cross, wrong footing David Martin, but fortunately for defender and goalkeeper, the deflection went narrowly wide of the upright.
Robinson said he was disappointed that his side had not converted more first half chances in recent weeks, but while they had the better chances of the opening half, they hadn’t done enough to justify leading at the break, going in 0-0.
Jabo Ibehre replaced Bowditch at the interval, but it was a clash between Lewington and Michael O’Connor within the first 60 seconds that had tempers flared. The pair went for the ball and ended up on the floor, but O’Connor kicked out at the Dons skipper, though referee Paul Tierney missed it and the Scunthorpe man went unpunished.
Dons looked to have the upper hand as they attacked the Cowshed, but they didn’t make Slocombe work in the opening 15 minutes of the half. Meanwhile at the other end, Martin was forced into a couple of saves from Bobby Grant, though both shots were straight at him.
Chris Dagnall looked like he was through on goal when the ball broke to him in the area, but from no-where, Adam Smith threw in a tackle to brilliantly intercept and clear the danger – the on loan Spurs defender having one of his best days in a Dons shirt.
The home side began to turn the screw on their opponents, allowing them less and less time in their half and on the ball as they went forward. With Ibehre as the target man, Dons were launching high balls into the box, inviting Potter and Gleeson more freedom to come forward and join in with the attacks. The lively Balanta was replaced by Daniel Powell with 20 minutes remaining – Robinson perhaps keeping half an eye on the huge match with Sheffield United on Tuesday night.
And the two substitutes combined to create the best chance of the game – Ibehre nodded wide to Powell, who had raced past his man, to go through on goal, but a last ditch slide from Sam Togwell deflected his past the post.
Robinson made his final roll of the dice with five minutes to go, replacing Morrison with Charlie MacDonald – Morrison receiving a standing ovation as he left the pitch in what is likely to be his final appearance for Dons.
And the home side continued to throw everything at Scunthorpe, knowing that the only goal of the game would likely be the winner.
Though but for a handful of half-chances, Dons were unable to break the deadlock and had to settle for a draw. The result means they drop further ground on the leading pack, and still only have one win in the last nine games.
Referee: Paul Tierney
Attendance: 10,554 (589 away)
MK Dons: Martin, Smith, Lewington, Beevers, MacKenzie, Potter, Gleeson, Bowditch (Ibehre, 46), Chadwick, Balanta (Powell, 71), Morrison (MacDonald, 85)
Subs not used: Doumbe, Williams
Scunthorpe: Slocombe, Nolan, Togwell, O’Connor, Dagnall (Thompson, 71), Norwood, Reid, Shane Duffy, Grant, Barcham, Mark Duffy (Ajose, 71)
Suns not used: Nelson, Collins, Cutler
Booked: Beevers, Morrison, Nolan, Smith, Gleeson, MacKenzie, O’Connor