Kieran Agard missed a penalty as MK Dons came from behind to draw 1-1 with early League 1 pace-setters Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
It threatened to be another miserable afternoon for Karl Robinson’s side as they fell behind to a Mark Beevers strike after just eight minutes.
But unperturbed, Dons settled and despite rarely threatening in the first period, were back in it nine minutes into the second as Ryan Colclough scored his first for the club, getting a second bite of the cherry.
Dons had a chance to win it just after the hour, but Agard missed the penalty he won himself, while Bolton piled on the pressure late on to no avail.
Having failed to find the back of the net so far this season, Nicky Maynard was dropped for the trip to the Macron Stadium in favour of Kieran Agard. Samir Carruthers was also dropped to the substitutes bench after starting last Sunday against Northampton, with Ben Reeves preferred to start in behind lone-striker Agard.
It was a fragile Dons side which took to the pitch against the league leaders, and it showed after just eight minutes when Bolton took an early lead as former loanee Mark Beevers smashed home from inside the six yard box as the visitor’s defence struggled to clear Jay Spearing’s corner.
Despite the goal, it was a fairly even start between two of the sides relegated from the Championship last season. Dons’ biggest hold up though was their lack of urgency to attack, epitomised when Ed Upson won the ball in midfield, but with only Agard ahead, had to pass backwards as the rest of the team ambled at a slow pace.
When they did get moving, Agard almost equalised. Good vision from Reeves allowed George Baldock to get a shot off, but Mark Howard’s parry could only go to Dean Bowditch. His cross in turn found Agard in the centre, but he could only get a toe to it as it skidded just wide.
But Agard’s involvement was sparse at best. Suffering similar problems to Maynard this season, his movement wasn’t picked out by Ryan Colclough, who wasn’t having the same joy he had at Sixfields last week, nor Bowditch on the opposite flank. Long balls over the top to him though saw him caught in the offside trap on several occasions, but when he did stay onside, he was seldom picked out.
He did force Howard into a good save early in the second half though as Dons came out with a renewed sense of purpose in the second half. Upson, Colclough and Bowditch combined to find Agard on the edge of the box. His strike though was tipped over by the Bolton keeper.
Very much on the front foot, Reeves saw a dipping volley go just over the top but it wasn’t long before they were level. Colclough, who had an indifferent first half, showed what he’s capable of when he sailed past Lewis Buxton and into the box, forcing a save from Howard with his shot. But the rebound fell back to him, but managed to get enough of a connection on it to see it through the crowd and spin in at the far post.
And with momentum behind them, Dons had the perfect opportunity to put themselves ahead but problems from the penalty spot once again reared their ugly head. Agard won the spot kick on 62 minutes after he was hauled to the ground by former Dons loanee Mark Beevers, but dusting himself off to take the penalty, saw it palmed onto the bar by Howard.
With both sides fancying their chances of snatching the win, it made for an enthralling, end-to-end affair. Bolton certainly had their chances to take all three points too, with Dons defending at sixes and sevens at times as the lively substitute Sammy Ameobi provided a constant threat.
But despite the late huffing and puffing from the home side, Dons were able to leave with a point.
Referee: Peter Bankes
Attendance: 12,727 (210)
Bolton: Howard, Buxton, Beevers, Vela (Thorpe 87), Spearing, Proctor, Anderson (Ameobi 62), Trotter, A Taylor, Henry (C Taylor 87), Wheater
Subs not used: Alnwick, Moxey, Osede, Wilson
MK Dons: Martin, Baldock, Downing, Walsh, Lewington, Potter, Upson (Carruthers 72), Bowditch, Colclough (Maynard 90), Reeves (Powell 86), Agard
Subs not used: Nicholls, GB Williams, GC Williams, Tshimanga
Booked: Lewington, Upson, Walsh, Carruthers