REPORT: MK Dons 1-1 Fulham: Dons slip into bottom three

Dons celebrate Dean Bowditch's goal against Fulham.
Dons celebrate Dean Bowditch's goal against Fulham.

Dons slipped into the Championship relegation zone after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Fulham on Saturday.

Dean Bowditch gave the hosts the lead on the half-hour with a fine finish, but Dons couldn’t reach the break ahead with Moussa Dembele equalising on the stroke of half-time.

Dean Bowditch

Dean Bowditch

Neither the Dons nor the managerless Londoners could find the breakthrough in a tight second period, so the game ended all square. However, the result combined with a win for Charlton means the Dons slip into the bottom three.

After two weeks to stew over the defeat at Brighton, Dons returned from the international break looking to get back-to-back home wins for the first time in the league this season, and the first time competitively since August.

Standing in their way were Fulham, who were under the temporary charge of former Norwich boss Peter Grant after failing to find a replacement from Kit Symons ahead of this clash.

Before the game, the teams and spectators held a minute’s silence to commemorate fallen members of Britain’s armed forces as part of the team’s Armed Forces Day, and the victims of last week’s Paris atrocities. The silence was well observed by those in the ground.

Dons vs Fulham

Dons vs Fulham

A tight opening saw the first chance fall to the team from London, with a looping Moussa Dembele header caught with ease by David Martin. Shooting with more power was Bowditch, who saw a drive from 25 yards tipped over the bar by Joe Lewis.

Lewis would then deny Dons again seconds later, with the former Peterborough keeper denying the recalled Josh Murphy.

The game soon settle into a tight routine, with the nearest either side got to goal seeing Fulham survive a scramble.

Closer were Fulham, in a move with controversy. Ross McCormack appeared to be offside but was allowed to progress, much to Robinson’s irritation. The former Leeds striker then seemingly teed up Dembele for a tap-in, only for the Belgian to inexplicably find the Cowshed from three yards out.

That miss seemed to take the sting out of Fulham’s attack, and the Dons made their possession advantage count just before the half-hour. A patient passing move saw an initial delivery cleared, before Murphy’s cross was collected by Bowditch, who turned and volleyed home via a post.

Bowditch then almost got a quickfire double, with Dan Burn sliding back to clear his shot off the line.

Fulham had largely been poor in attack, but they were beginning to get more of the ball in the closing part of the first half, and were level just before the break. A cross from the Dons’ right picked out Dembele, who this time hit his effort low and over the line.

The opening to the second period was comparatively tame, with Martin making an easy catch to a long-ranger, and Darren Potter heading narrowly wide from a free-kick.

The second half became a tighter game largely played in the middle of the park, but the Dons did have a half-chance when Nicky Maynard received a cross. But the striker couldn’t keep his shot below the bar.

As the game ticked towards the end, chances became something of a rare event, and it took until the 80th minute mark for an opportunity. But when it came, McCormack failed to make the most of it, with his shot blocked on the line by Kyle McFadzean.

This set the cue for a substantially livelier closing spell of the game, but neither goal was breached, and the game finished all square.

MK Dons: Martin – Spence, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington – Potter, Poyet – Carruthers (Baker 77), Bowditch (Hall 70), Murphy – Maynard (Church 86)

Subs: Cropper, Hodson, Powell, Gallagher

Goal: Bowditch (30)

Fulham: Lewis – Fredericks (Voser 45), Stearman, Burn, Garbutt – Tunnicliffe (Mattila 70), O’Hara, Cairney, Kavanagh – McCormack, Dembele

Subs: Rodak, Hutchinson, Pringle, Woodrow, Smith

Goal: Dembele (44)

Booked: Kavanagh, Dembele

Attendance: 14,508

Referee: Darren Handley