Cheltenham score stoppage time equaliser to deny Dons victory

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MK Dons 2-2 Cheltenham Town

Alfie May scored a 97th minute equaliser for Cheltenham Town as they claimed a dramatic point in an action-packed 2-2 draw with MK Dons at Stadium MK.

The visitors led through an uncharacteristic mistake from Jamie Cumming, gifting the ball to Elliot Bonds to score the opener, only for Mo Eisa to net on the stroke of half-time to level things up.

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Eisa would then score from the spot just before the hour mark to give Dons the lead. Cumming would go from villain to hero when he saved May’s penalty with 21 minutes remaining, but was beaten at the death when the Robins striker bundled it over the line in dramatic circumstances to share the spoils.

For Dons, it means they are three points from the drop zone with wins for Cambridge and Morecambe below.

Jack Tucker came back into the side after recovering from the back injury which kept him out against Derby County on Monday. Jonathan Leko and Henry Lawrence, who scored the equaliser at Pride Park, miss out too, with Conor Grant and Nathan Holland starting in behind Mo Eisa.

After Cambridge United closed the gap to two points with their shock 2-0 win over Peterborough United in the early kick-off, Dons knew a win would be vital in their bid for survival. And they started brightly, with chances falling to unlikely sources early on - Dean Lewington, Anthony Stewart and Jack Tucker all taking aim, with the latter's header cleared off the line.

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Tennai Watson should have given Dons the lead when was picked out in the box by Zak Jules only to see his effort bravely blocked by a Cheltenham body.

Looking in total control until that point, Dons would gift Cheltenham the lead through a defensive horrorshow. Trying to play out of danger, Jamie Cumming's ball to Josh McEachran put the midfielder in trouble 20 yards from goal, and he was robbed by Elliot Bonds, who routinely rounded the keeper to roll the Robins into a 12th minute lead.

The mistake forced Dons into their shell somewhat after that. Looking nervous around the back line, the hosts allowed Cheltenham a foothold as they began to find ways in behind the home side, though they seldom posed a goal-threat.

Dons kept plugging away and though their early momentum had been sucked out of them, there were half-chances for Watson and Holland to draw Dons level. But they had to wait until stoppage time at the end of the first-half for that.

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Grant looked to steer the ball into the path of Holland on the edge of the box, but while the winger couldn't bring the ball under control, Eisa was ready and waiting to shoot from just inside the penalty area to find the bottom corner against his former club.

The second-half would be action packed, and would sway from one end to the other. Dons began the half brightly as they sought the lead, and duly took it when Tennai Watson was dragged down in the penalty area by Will Ferry, allowing Eisa to smash home his 12th goal of the season just before the hour mark.

Injury to Cheltenham's James Olayinka brought on the stretcher and meant plenty of stoppage time would be played, but before that, Cheltenham would win a penalty when Jack Tucker downed Aidan Keena. Having made the mistake for the Robins' opener earlier though, Cumming flew across his line to deny May from the spot.

And it looked as though it would inspire Dons to claim what would have been a huge three points en route to safety. The lengthy stoppage time period though would be their undoing. Into the seventh minute of seven added on, Broom raced down the right-flank, crossed deep to Caleb Taylor, who nodded back across goal for May to make up for his penalty miss, poking home the equaliser.

Referee: Ben Toner

Attendance: 6,974

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MK Dons: Cumming, Lewington, Stewart, Tucker, Jules, Watson, McEachran (Johnson 90), Maghoma, Grant (Robson 90), Holland (Leko 64) , Eisa (Grigg 78)

Subs not used: Ravozzili, Lawrence, Devoy

Cheltenham Town: Southwood, Long (Freestone 75), Bradbury (Rea 75), May, Taylor, Ferry, Jackson, Bonds, Keena (Brown 82), Broom, Olayinka (Perry 68)

Subs not used: MacDonald, Williams, Raglan

Booked: Long, Lewington

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