CLAYTON Donaldson won’t score an easier winner in his career as Dons twice squandered a lead, losing 3-2 to Brentford.
In a thrilling encounter, Ryan Lowe got the first goal after 14 minutes thanks to Stephen Gleeson’s good vision, but Donaldson tapped home just before the break to equalise. Gleeson then got one himself to put Dons 2-1 up, but they were pegged back by Harry Forrester’s effort from close range. And when David Martin could only parry Marcello Trotta’s last minute effort into the path of Donaldson, the writing was on the wall for Karl Robinson’s men.
After the hysteria of last weekend’s FA Cup second round tie was put to bed, it was back to the bread and butter of League 1 action as Karl Robinson’s men travelled to Griffin Park to take on Brentford. Dean Bowditch was the only change to the starting line-up, with Zeli Ismail taking his place on the right flank.
Jon Otsemobor’s name was cheered everytime they heard it over the loud-speaker for his late winner last week, but Brentford nearly took an very early lead, inside 90 seconds in fact. A mix-up between Antony Kay and Dean Lewington as to who was going to clear the ball allowed Clayton Donaldon to nip in behind them, but Martin did well to keep it out and avert danger.
Seconds later though, Angelo Balanta could’ve put Dons ahead when he found space in the box, but his turning shot was kept out by Simon Moore in the Brentford net. And the keeper had to be on his guard a minute later when Luke Chadwick connected with an ambitious over-head kick six yards from goal, tipping it over for a corner.
It wouldn’t take long before Dons did edge in front though. Otsemobor’s break up field found Gleeson on the edge of the box. As he shaped to shoot, he instead slipped through Ryan Lowe who struck the ball low past Moore and into the corner of the net for 1-0.
Zeli Ismail, making his first start for Dons since his loan move from Wolves, picked up a booking for a reckless challenge on Jake Bidwell and after a few misplaced passes, was hauled off after just 24 minutes, replaced by Daniel Powell.
Donaldson was proving to be the thorn in the side for Dons as they looked to consolidate their advantage. He big striker looked lively as he floated between Kay, Williams and Lewington and forced Martin into a good low save as he jinked his way through after 25 minutes.
Back at the other end, Balanta forced Moore into an acrobatic stop, but David Martin looked beaten all ends up when Harry Forrester bent one around him a minute later, only to be denied by the upright.
Harlee Dean thought he’d levelled things up with 10 minutes to go before the break after Martin spilled Trotta’s initial effort from the edge of the box, but as the defender scooped the follow-up into the net, the linesman’s flag cut short any celebrations.
But the flag didn’t come to Dons’ aid eight minutes later as Forrester broke the offside trap before squaring unselfishly to Donaldson in the centre, who had a simple tap in to equalise. And it was no more than the home side deserved too – they looked far more keen to get back level than Dons did to double their advantage.
But within 90 seconds of the restart, they should have been back in front as Lowe made himself room in the area, looking to bend one in at the far post, but saw it just skim over the top.
They only had to wait another seven minutes to regain the lead though as Stephen Gleeson swivelled in the penalty area after good work from Powell on the edge of the box, to bend one around Moore’s outstretched hand, nestling the ball in the corner of the net.
The goal though took a little of the exciting edge away from the game. Dons reverted to their resolute possession play, while Brentford filled the box with targets as they bombed cross after cross into the danger zone.
Eventually their pressure paid off though. Throughout the game, Dons were guilty of giving away too many silly fouls in their own half, and one came back to bite them. With another long ball lumped into the box, Trotta took a pot shot straight at Martin, but it was too powerful to hold on to and Forrester lashed it home to equalise with 20 minutes remaining.
Robinson made his final two substitutions, with Alan Smith replacing the misfiring Chadwick, while Charlie MacDonald was given a run out against his former side as he took over from Ryan Lowe up front.
But it was Brentford who would have the best chance in the dying stages to win it. After a Dons free kick was cleared, Forrester had the pace over Balanta to race clear into the penalty area, but struck his low shot straight at Martin who parried before leaping on the loose ball.
More concerning for Dons though was the sight of Otsemobor limping – with no substitutions left, Gleeson was forced into defence while the right-back would make a nuisance of himself in the attacking third.
With Forrester looking inspired, it was inevitable that Brentford would net a late winner. The winger held up play brilliantly, allowing Trotta again to get a shot off. But once again, Martin could only parry the well-struck shot into the path of Donaldson who won’t have scored an easier brace in his career as Brentford went 3-2 up with two minutes to go.
The result sees Dons slip to sixth in the table, still in the play-off spots and just four from the top of the pile.
Referee: Lee Collins
Attendance: 5,833 (445 away)
Brentford: Moore, Forshaw (Reeves 77), Craig, Dean, Douglas, Donaldson, Logan, Forrester, Diagouaga (Kiernan 60), Trotta (Hodson, 90), Bidwell
Subs not used: Lee, Sanders, Dallas, Hodson, Hayes
MK Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Lewington, Kay, Williams, Gleeson, Potter, Chadwick (Smith 77) , Balanta, Ismail (Powell 24), Lowe (MacDonald 77)
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Doumbe, Chicksen, Sekajja
Booked: Ismail, Bidwell, Chadwick