Match report: MK Dons 1 Brentford 2

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A SPIRITED late fight back from MK Dons wasn’t enough to overturn a two goal half time deficit as Brentford were 2-1 winners at stadium:mk on Saturday.

A dire first half for the home side saw them go in two goal behind thanks to strikes from Clayton Donaldson and Jonathan Douglas. Short on ideas, Dons struggled to make an impact on the game. But thanks to a questionable penalty decision with three minutes to go, Shaun Williams pulled one back for Dons. There was a late flurry of chances as Dons sensed blood in the six minutes of stoppage time, but it was too little too late as Brentford escaped with all three points.

A shock inclusion to the Dons line-up was Newcastle loanee James Tavernier after returning from injury sooner than expected. The home side were however without Mathias Doumbe, Gary MacKenzie, Luke Chadwick and Dean Bowditch. Alan Smith started in the hole behind Charlie MacDonald.

Keen to avenge Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Carlisle, Dons started with a fire in their bellies. Stephen Gleeson came close to opening the scoring after five minutes with a shot from range, well saved by Bees keeper Richard Lee, and Tom Flanagan rose highest from the resultant corner but had his header blocked. Alan Smith then came close as his sliding effort started a goal-mouth scramble and Daniel Powell forced Lee into a spectacular stop with his shot from the edge of the area in a breathless opening 10 minutes.

Brentford were limited to their opportunities early on but should have done better when Clayton Donaldson beat the offside trap and broke to the byline but his ball across was cut out by the retreating Darren Potter.

But Donaldson made amends 60 seconds later when once again he got in behind, this time opting to go it alone as he cut inside Tom Flanagan and rifled into the roof of the net to hand Brentford a 1-0 lead after 12 minutes.

Dons were nearly level immediately when Smith, enjoying his advanced position in the hole behind MacDonald, struck from the edge of the penalty area, but saw hit shot agonisingly over the bar.

The goal gave Brentford a boost in the arm and they began to look the side more likely to score again. David Martin did well to hang on to Sam Saunders’ cross from the right and Shaleum Logan tested his range, though his effort tested the strength of the seats behind the goal rather than the keeper’s hands.

But it was Dons’ lack of creativity going forward that meant chances were few and far between. And ultimately it would cost them as Brentford doubled the lead 25 minutes into the first half. Doubling up on Dean Lewington, Logan found Saunders in acres in the penalty area and he was able to wait for Jonathan Douglas to join the attack before rolling the ball into the midfielder’s path. But Douglas’ finish was nothing short of spectacular as he bent the ball up and over Martin into the opposite corner of the net, giving them a deserved 2-0 lead.

Shell-shocked, Dons began to find their feet towards the end of the half but their finished still left a lot to be desired. Powell and O’Shea did well to keep the ball alive in the area as a scramble ensued, but Potter shot high into the stands and James Tavernier made Richard Lee work with his shot from the angle, but it was a comfortable diving catch for the keeper.

The reserve fixture saw Brentford overturn a 3-0 deficit at half time to draw 3-3 at Griffin Park, and Dons would need something equally as special to get back into the game in the second half.

But despite the fire that should have been in Dons’ bellies, it was Brentford who looked the more assertive as the second half bedded in, comfortable in possession and stroking the ball around neatly in midfield, making Dons do much of the leg work. Running low on ideas, Dons main source of attack came from playing long balls up the field of MacDonald to chase – a fruitless affair against two huge central defenders in the shape of Harlee Dean and Karleigh Osborne.

Attention quickly turned to the referee Gary Sutton though, with a series of questionable decisions and cards being thrown about against the home side, including a dubious booking for MacDonald for handball, though it seemed clear to everyone he had headed the ball wide of the upright.

Darren Potter was still running the show for Dons and came closest to pulling one back when his cross looked to be dipping in at the near post, but the home side struggled to combat Brentford’s dogged defending, aided by some misplaced passes and pointless long balls up to the overwhelmed MacDonald.

It could have been so much worse for Dons too with 15 minutes to go but for the feet of David Martin. Lewington’s header was easily collected by Logan who easily skipped past last man Potter on halfway and raced clear. With Saunders in support, Logan went it alone, but Martin was quick off his line to close the angle, and Logan’s shot was poor and straight at the keeper.

There was to be another twist courtesy of Mr Sutton’s refereeing handbook, as substitute Marcus Bean clatterered into Lewington from behind when play had stopped, resulting in just a booking for the Brentford man.

Dons were given a late lifeline with three minutes to go when Adam Thompson fouled MacDonald outside the box, but in a typically bizarre decision, the referee awarded a penalty kick, with Shaun Williams making no mistakes from the spot reducing the score to 2-1.

And with six minutes added on, the 11,000 strong home crowd urged on their side and nearly lifted the roof when Ibehre hit the bar. A flurry of late chances had Brentford hearts in mouths, but it was too little too late for Dons as they slipped to their third home defeat in five.

Referee: Gary Sutton

Attendance: 11,570

MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Tavernier (Ibehre, 73), Williams, Flanagan, Gleeson, Potter, Powell, O’Shea (Hall, 62), Smith, MacDonald

Subs not used: McLoughlin, Chicksen, Slane

Brentford: Lee, Saunders (Bean, 76), Douglas, Donaldson, Logan (Legge 90), Forrester (McGinn, 64), Diagouraga, Osborne, Thompson, Bidwell, Dean

Subs not used; Berahino, Morrison

Booked: Smith, Flanagan, MacDonald, Thompson, Bean, Lewington, Osborne, Diagouraga