A SPECTACULAR Steven Schumacher volley midway through the second half earned Bury an unlikely 1-1 draw against MK Dons on Saturday.
Dean Bowditch put Dons ahead after 14 minutes with a brilliant individual goal, his fourth against Bury this season. But as has so often been the case at stadium:mk, Dons should have put the game to bed by half time but didn’t, and it would come back to harm them. Returning Izale McLeod hit the base of the post, and Antony Kay had one cleared off the line before the break, but Schumacher’s impressive volley after 66 minutes gave the Shakers a share of the pointds.
As expected, Izale McLeod was named in the starting line-up in his return to stadium:mk, playing alongside Ryan Lowe up front. Dean Bowditch and Daniel Powell also returned from injury and went straight into the starting 11. Unusually, it was Bury who couldn’t fill their quota on the bench, while Dons chose not to name a reserve goalkeeper in among their seven substitutes.
Despite the home side’s confidence in the opening 10 minutes, the two best chances fell to Lenell John-Lewis at the other end – both time he managed to turn in the area, but his shots were both deflected narrowly wide by Shaun Williams.
Dean Bowditch scored a hat-trick in the corresponding fixture earlier this season, so it was no surprise that he opened the scoring after 14 minutes. Following Ryan Harley’s powerful run across the face of the penalty area, Bowditch spun David Worrall on the left flank, before cutting back inside him, and then inside Efe Sodje onto his right foot, bending the ball through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner of the net.
He could have doubled his and Dons’ tally three minutes later when he opened fire from a similar position again, but this time his high swerving effort was palmed away by keeper Trevor Carson.
McLeod’s first involvement after 19 minutes, when he managed to shoot on the turn from the edge of the area, but it was a comfortable collect for Carson, diving low to his right.
Bury should have been level after 25 minutes though. Pouncing on Williams’ missed header, Tom Hopper burst into the area. Looking up, he spotted Bury skipper Steven Schumacher on the penalty spot, but Lewington put him under pressure as he shot, deflecting it wide for a corner.
From the set piece, Sodje rose above the rest to power a header goalwards, but Martin was able to get his fingertips to it to nudge it over the top.
After that though, the game coasted in towards half time. Dons looked good in possession, and most of it was in the Bury half but chances were few and far between. McLeod looked like he was losing patience with being man-handled by Sodje on a regular basis, but almost doubled the lead from point blank range but couldn’t quiet get a good enough connection to turn it goalwards.
Antony Kay too had a decent chance five minutes before the break when Bury only half cleared a Dons corner, and the defender fired in low through the crowd only to have his effort swiped off the line.
But the best chance of the half fell to McLeod as the clock struck 45 minutes. Turning Sodje, his strike on goal was deflected up and over Carson’s dive but it came agonisingly off the base of the post, rolling across the face of goal before being scooped away by the Bury defence. So it was just the one goal lead at the break, though it could have been plenty more.
With the crowd willing the club’s all-time top scorer to net on his second debut, their dreams almost came true just a minute after the break when Bowditch picked out McLeod around the penalty spot, he squared up Sodje and shifted the ball onto his right foot, but just fired wide.
And such has been the case on so many occasions, Dons’ inability to put the game to bed came back to haunt them after 66 minutes when Schumacher’s brilliant volley, with his back to goal, sailed past a stricken Martin and into the top corner to equalise for struggling Bury.
Up until that point, Dons had been comfortable, if not overly dominant over the Shakers, but found it hard to break down the 10 man defence as they sat deep.
Bury could have take a sensational lead with 20 minutes to go when John-Lewis was picked out through the middle by Tom Soares, but incredibly the striker scooped the ball wide when through on the goalkeeper – a lucky let off indeed for the home side.
McLeod’s return wouldn’t bring the goal everyone had hoped as Robinson switched him out for Alan Smith, and Powell too was replaced by Zeli Ismail with 12 minutes to go.
But as the clock ticked down, Dons’ chances to equalise still didn’t materialise. Ismail looked a threat down the right but couldn’t deliver the telling ball, while Bowditch was having similar trouble down the opposite flank.
A handful of boos rang out around the stadium at the full time whistle, but Dons remain in the play-off spots in sixth, now 10 points from the top.
Referee: Fred Graham
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Chicksen, Williams, Kay, Potter, Harley, Powell (Ismail 78), Bowditch, Lowe, McLeod (Smith 78)
Subs not used: Otsemobor, Doumbe, MacKenzie, Alli, Rasulo
Bury: Carson, Skarz, Worrall, Schumacher, John-Lewis, Sodje, Hughes, Hopper (Jones 53), Thompson, Ebanks-Landell, Soares (Carrington 90)
Subs not used: Dibble, Wylde
Booked: Powell, Bowditch