DEAN Bowditch missed a second half penalty as 10-man Yeovil parked the bus at stadium:mk, winning 1-0.
Gavin Williams was quickest to react to a wry Lawson D’Ath shot to ghost in at the far post and shoot across David Martin, deflecting in off Adam Chicksen to put Yeovil ahead, before Dean Parrett was given his marching orders just before the break. The inevitable onslaught came, but Dean Bowditch missed Dons best opportunity of the night from the penalty spot, with Sam Walker guessing right to keep his effort out. Yeovil defended heroically to keep the home side at bay, but Dons will feel they did enough to more than win the game on another night. To add insult to injury, Stephen Gleeson was sent off late in the game for lashing out at Yeovil’s Gavin Williams.
It was another patch-work Dons side taking to the field but Karl Robinson could at least boast a full compliment of substitutes after naming just four away at Hartlepool on Saturday. Jabo Ibehre dropped to the bench with the return of Dean Bowditch but an injury to James Tavernier meant he missed out, replaced by Adam Chicksen. Stephen Gleeson returned from suspension and started in the centre of the midfield, but there was no room for Gary MacKenzie who also served the last game of his ban against Hartlepool.
Back on home soil after two long away trips, Dons were keen to get the scoring underway quickly. And with attacking threats all over the pitch, it wasn’t long before the shots went flying in on Sam Walkers goal. Jay O’Shea twice fired on goal in the opening five minutes and should have done better from the second opportunity in particular as he, Gleeson and Daniel Powell failed to take advantage of a three-on-two break.
Adam Chicksen, playing a right back, took to playing the advanced role instantly, and could well have scored one of the finest individual efforts ever seen at stadium:mk when he weaved his way past five Yeovil defenders in a mazy 20 yard run. But he spooned his shot wide at the vital moment as Dons continued to keep up the early pressure.
Yeovil’s florescent yellow kit was there for all to see, but Gleeson clearly missed Andrew Williams standing between the two centre backs as he tried to play a ball wide after 22 minutes. Fortunately though, David Martin was quick to react to the danger, pouncing on the striker before he had a chance to make Dons pay.
But for all their pressure in the opening half an hour, the home side barely made Walker work for his money. As the ever-rotating attack saw Smith, Powell and Bowditch share striking responsibilities, none of them could muster a shot on target as the stout Yeovil defence went in search of their first clean sheet since last December.
And their lack of accuracy would come back to haunt them as Yeovil, like Hartlepool on Saturday, took the lead against the run of play six minutes from the break. Lawson D’Ath found space on the edge of the box after some indecisiveness from the Dons defence, but his shot appeared to be sailing out for a throw-in. However, it turned out to be a fantastic pass to Gavin Williams who ghosted in behind Chicksen. From the corner of the six yard box, he shot past Martin, taking a deflection off Chicksen as it bounced into the net, giving the visitors an unjustified 1-0 lead.
But Dons were handed a huge slice of luck a minute before time when Dean Parrett, who was earlier booked for a terrible challenge on Gleeson, clattered into Shaun Williams well after the ball had gone, reducing the Glovers to 10 men.
As seen so often at stadium:mk, Dons were quickly out the box an on the front foot, desperately seeking a way back into the game. But with all 10 Yeovil players camped in their own half, it was going to be a tough ask for Dons. It took just nine minutes of the first half for Robinson to bring on Jabo Ibehre, replacing Luke Chadwick to add some muscle to the front line. But try as they might, they couldn’t create a clear-cut opening.
Dons were piling forward, enjoying almost all of the possession as Yeovil looked content to sit back and defend deep. And it was filling the box with players that gave Dons an ideal opportunity to get back on level terms. Bowditch lined up yet another cross from the left, but his cross struck the out-stretched arm of Luke Ayling, with the referee pointing immediately to the spot. But it wasn’t looking like Dons’ night as Bowditch stepped up to take the spot kick, and Walker guessed right, though the ball squirmed from under him before he pounced on it before it crossed the line.
Yeovil were limited, partly through their own choice of tactics, to hitting Dons on the counter and on two occasions caught the home side napping in defence. But David Martin was quick off his line both times to make the vital clearances and to restart the ongoing onslaught.
To their credit though, the visitors were defending magnificently. Richard Hinds and skipper Paul Huntington were heading clear cross after cross in an unusually packed penalty area. But it just wasn’t going Dons way as shot after shot was blocked, deflected, even hitting their own players on the way through but nothing was bouncing their way at the all important moments.
As the clock ticked down, it was Walker who was the hero again as he kept out Smith’s close-range effort among the countless high balls into the box that he plucked out of the sky.
There was another flash point late in the game though, as Gleeson appeared to kick out at Gavin Williams resulting in a straight red card shown to the midfielder.
The result is harsh on Dons for all the possession and attacking chances they created, but Yeovil defended brilliantly with 10 men.
Once again, results around them in League 1 may have saved Dons from slipping any further behind, but remain fifth in the table.
Referee: Dean Mahareb
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Chicksen (George Williams, 75), Doumbe, Shaun Williams, Gleeson, Powell (Slane, 86), Smith, O’Shea, Chadwick (Ibehre, 54), Bowditch
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan
Yeovil Town: Walker, Ayling, Huntington, Blizzard, Andrew Williams, Upson, Gavin Williams, D’Ath (Franks, 62), Grounds, Parrett, Hinds
Subs not used: N’Gala, Woods, Haynes-Brown, Stewart
Bookings: Parrett, O’Shea, Ayling, Upson, Lewington
Sent off: Parrett, Gleeson