Doncaster 0-0 MK Dons: Feisty battle ends all square at the Keepmoat

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Dons had to settle for consecutive 0-0 draws away from home after a feisty stalemate with Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday.

Tom Flanagan came closest to netting for the visitors, hitting the inside of the post with a cracking volley at the far post. Substitutes Benik Afobe and Carl Baker too came close for Dons, while Doncaster may have felt aggrieved not to have a penalty after a melee in the area saw countless handball appeals.

Following Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Fleetwood, Karl Robinson made two changes to his starting line-up - both of them enforced by injury. Dean Bowditch and Kyle McFadzean both hobbled out of the game at stadium:mk, and were replaced by Samir Carruthers and Tom Flanagan.

Darren Potter was at the heart of the early action for the visitors. Pulling all the strings as ever, first he teed up Will Grigg for a header to test Jed Steer, before forcing the keeper into a fine close-range stop, barging into the penalty area after some quick passing between Ben Reeves and Carruthers on the left.

Doncaster began to edge their way into proceedings as the tempo settled, but didn’t really force the issue a Kyle Bennett corner zipping across the face of goal as close as they’d come in the opening half hour.

At the other end, Dons probably should have been ahead when Daniel Powell, who looked in dangerous form, skipped past two challenges to break from the half way line, cutting inside to feel Reeves on the edge of the area, only to see the shot just over.

Defensively, Dons looked assured. Though only 50 per cent of Robinson’s preferred back four, Flanagan in particular had an air of confidence about him as he kept close tabs on Nathan Tyson and Curtis Main. Doncaster were restricted to long range efforts and deep, booming crosses from the flanks, none of which were of any real concern to David Martin.

Dons would argue they should have had a penalty seven minutes before the break when Will Grigg was hauled down by Andy Butler, who struggled to keep the striker in check throughout the first half. The only question was whether the foul was in or out of the box - referee Darren Handley opting for a safer option by giving it outside. Reeves’ free kick from the corner of the area was bent in towards the near post, and almost caught Steer out, but the keeper got enough on it to parry it clear.

Some really spicy tackles were flying about as the sides approached half time. Four players were booked in the run up to the break, with the referee losing control as tempers on both sides, and in both dugouts, began to flare.

Doncaster’s best chance of the half came at the very death of it. A long ball over to Tyson was blocked by Flanagan but straight into the path of the fast-approaching Harry Forrester, who raced in behind, but bent his strike just wide of the far post with Martin well beaten.

The start of the second half, by comparison, was something of a let down. There was less of the bite and tenacity of the first, replaced with silly, nothing fouls constantly disrupting either side from playing anything to resemble decent football.

But the game sparked into life when, of all people, Flanagan found himself unmarked at the far post to meet Carruthers’ deep corner flush on the volley. It looked for all the world to be the opener, but it cannoned off the inside of the opposite post.

Straight back at the other end, Forrester then stung the palms of Martin from range, before Theo Robinson then tried a similar effort, with Martin just holding on at the second attempt, with Tyson hovering.

Doncaster may feel they should have had a penalty, or three, as Dons failed to clear a corner any further than the edge of their own box, blocking shots on site, with both supporters and the home dugout incensed that the referee didn’t take pity on them and appease their appeals.

Benik Afobe, who replaced Grigg, nearly snatched the super-sub moniker twice in as many games when, sent through by Alli, lifted the ball over the approaching Steer, only to see his effort cleared off the line by two Doncaster defenders bursting a lung to get back in touch with the striker.

As the clock ticked over to 90, Afobe looked favourite to score but saw his strike blocked at close range, before Carl Baker headed agonisingly wide seconds later as both sides had to settle for a point apiece.

Referee: Darren Handley

Attendance: 5976 (396)

Doncaster Rovers: Steer, Evina, Forrester, Main (Robinson 62), McCullough, Tyson, Butler, Keegan, Wellens, Wabara, Bennett

Subs not used: Furman, McCombe, Marosi, Wakefield, De Val, Whitehouse

MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Spence, Kay, Flanagan, Alli, Potter, Carruthers (Baker 71), Powell, Reeves (Randall 90), Grigg (Afobe 67)

Subs not used: McLoughlin, Hitchcock, Rasulo, Hickford, Keegan

Booked: Alli, Butler, Potter, Bennett, Flanagan, Tyson