HE came within inches of making a dream debut following a whirlwind 24 hours, but it wasn’t to be for Clinton Morrison and Dons at Bury on Saturday.
The striker’s one month loan from League 1 rivals Sheffield Wednesday was confirmed early on Saturday morning and he made his debut with half an hour remaining at Gigg Lane.
But Shakers keeper Trevor Carson made an incredible save deep into stoppage time, tipping Morrison’s shot onto the post to deny the 32-year-old from opening his goal scoring account for the club, with Dons having to settle for a 0-0 draw – a result which sees them drop to ninth place in League 1.
Morrison said: “I was sitting on the bench, looking at the defenders and I said ‘I’m going to score here today!’
“Anthony McNamee, who I grew up with, put in a great ball and I managed to get on the end of it and thought it was a goal. I don’t know how the keeper saved it, but he’s tipped it onto the outside of the post. I’ll just have to save it for Tuesday night against Charlton.
“It’s a massive game and we need to win it. We need the three points to get back in the top six.”
The game marked a busy 24 hours for the striker, who admitted he didn’t expect to be at Gigg Lane after being told he was surplus to requirements at Hillsborough by boss Gary Megson.
But even after just half an hour on the pitch with his new team-mates, Morrison is keen to make his move to stadium:mk permament.
He said:“The manager pulled me aside and said he’d got another striker in, and that I could go and find another club to train with if I wanted.
“I haven’t been training for a week, and when I went in last Thursday, I was training with the youth team. I’m still a Sheffield Wednesday player, but I’m here to play with MK and do well.
“I’d love to make my stay longer. They play attractive football, there are some great youngsters here, and someone with my experience can help them develop and have a great season.
“I’d love it to be longer, until January or permanent! But it’s out of my hands – it’s up to the two clubs now.”
One thing his new manager Karl Robinson will be hoping is that Morrison can be the clinical striker his side has lacked of late, with a number of chances going begging against Bury which would ultimately have secured all three points.
But while there were chances, three key decisions went against the away side as they were again on the wrong end of controversial refereeing.
The first came 11 minutes in when Daniel Powell played a give-and-go with Jabo Ibehre before he was barged to the ground by Efe Sodje – but despite being nearly a yard into the penalty area, referee David Coote gave a free-kick outside the box which came to nothing.
Newly promoted Bury were on a four game losing streak going into the clash but looked confident of causing an upset, playing some neat football in the busy midfield as well as smothering Stephen Gleeson and Darren Potter, preventing them from getting Dons’ renounded passing game going.
Powell stung the palms of Carson and Potter fired a free-kick in a promising position into the wall as Dons searched for the opener. And they put together their best move of the half five minutes before the interval when Gleeson’s long ball found Bowditch on the edge of the area with pinpoint accuracy, and his neat first time touch to Ibehre put the big man through on goal, but he blasted the ball over the bar.
Dons were flowing forward, and were desperately unlucky not to be in front when Bowditch cut inside his man from the left and bent a right-footed effort goalwards but couldn’t beat Carson at full stretch as the sides went in level.
But it was into the second half that yet more refereeing decisions were to go against Dons. The visitors argued they should have had a second penalty when Bowditch’s cross was blocked by a Bury hand early in the half but referee Coote was having none of the protests and waved play on.
Morrison replaced Powell with half an hour remaining, and should have won a third penalty within five minutes of his introduction as he tried to turn Joe Skarz, who nearly pulled the shirt off his back in a bid to stop him.
Dons were incredibly denied a fourth penalty with nine minutes remaining as Shaun Williams’ initial free-kick was blocked, and the defender had another bite of the cherry and the ball appeared be stopped by Ashley Eastham’s hand.
And after all that Bury could have nicked the points in injury time when former Dons loanee David Amoo raced forward before slipping Andy Bishop through, but David Martin did well to stand his ground, blocking Bishop’s shot brilliantly.
However, there was still time for that man Morrison to win the game for Dons as his touch nearly beat Carson, but the keeper managed to get the deftest of touches to the ball and it clipped the bottom of the post.
“I felt for large parts we dominated,” said Robinson afterwards. “We had three or four chances in the first half, but I don’t think Dave Martin had a save to make.
“Second half, we had two or three guilt edged chances, and we normally take them. But saying that, even with all the possession we had, in the last minute something ridiculous happens and he (Martin) has to pull us out of trouble. Then we went to the other end and we could’ve won it. It was a strange ending to a strange draw.”
But the talking points to come out of the game were the penalty decisions that did not go Dons’ way, and Robinson admitted growing ever more frustrated with the lack of consistency from the referees.
He said: “The fact that the questions are being asked is proof in itself. Some of the decisions were mind-blowing, both ways. The key one for me was the handball. Against Burnley, we saw a decision against Luke Chadwick which led to their goal. That was half the infringement that we saw here. And there was a blatant shirt pull on Clinton Morrison.
“The assistant referee said when Clinton came on, and I heard him, ‘oh here he is, look at how many fouls he’s going to give away.’ Clinton didn’t get one free-kick today, and there were three or four against him and it speaks volume.
“I just want consistency. But they have a tough, tough job to do. We just don’t seem to be getting the rub of the green at the moment.
“I don’t think our performances have been that bad, and we deserved a little bit more out of the game.”
Dons will need to put the result behind them though as they face a huge challenge on Tuesday night as League 1 leaders Charlton make the trip to stadium:mk.
But Robinson is excited by the fixture and is expecting a thrilling encounter between the two sides.
He said: “It’s what you want to play football for! I like being excited by the forthcoming fixtures. We will turn up and give it a right good go. It’ll be an entertaining game and one we’re all looking forward to.”