Late drama as Middlesbrough pounce at the death to deny Dons

Dean Bowditch gave Dons the lead early on
Dean Bowditch gave Dons the lead early on

There was stoppage time heartbreak for MK Dons as they were pegged back late on by high-flying Middlesbrough in a 1-1 draw at Stadium:MK tonight.

Karl Robinson’s side looked to be heading for three vital points courtesy of Dean Bowditch’s early goal, but Boro hit back through Jordan Rhodes to snatch a point.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas congratulates Dean Bowditch

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas congratulates Dean Bowditch

Dons went into the game on the back of a morale-boosting 0-0 draw at Cardiff on Saturday, while high-flying Middlesbrough were looking for a return to winning ways following a run of three matches without a victory.

The game was only a few seconds old when Middlesbrough’s Gaston Ramirez had the first shot of the contest, but he dragged his effort wide from 20 yards out, before Josh Murphy curled a shot wide at the other end a few minutes later.

It did not take the hosts long to break the deadlock as they went in front on nine minutes. Kyle McFadzean played a long ball forward, allowing Bowditch to take a good touch and squirm his shot underneath Boro keeper Dimi Konstantopolous.

The visitors looked for a swift response and almost had it inside a minute of the restart, but Dons keeper David Martin was quick off his line to save from Cristhian Stuani.

Grant Leadbitter and Josh Murphy battle for the ball

Grant Leadbitter and Josh Murphy battle for the ball

Dons were looking fairly comfortable until the 34th minute when Richie De Laet whipped in a cross for the visitors, which Joe Walsh flicked narrowly wide of his own goal with Martin rooted to the spot.

Five minutes later, ex-England international Stuart Downing cut in from the right, but his whipped shot flew a couple of yards over the Dons crossbar as the hosts took a one-goal lead in at the interval.

The first chance of the second half fell to McFadzean as he got his head on to Jake Forster-Caskey’s floated free-kick, but the effort was easily held by Konstantopolous.

At the other end, Boro wasted a glorious chance to equalise in the 50th minute as Samir Carruthers gave the ball away on the edge of the box. Nugent broke through two weak tackles and had the goal at his mercy, but shot wide from eight yards out.

The visitors were starting to press, and it took a fine goalline clearance from McFadzean a couple of minutes later to deny De Laet a certain goal after good work by Ramirez.

Dons were still looking dangerous on the break, though, and they could have increased their lead shortly after the hour mark but Jay Emmanuel-Thomas took too long to get his shot away and Forshaw got back to make the tackle.

As the game wore on, the away fans began to grow increasingly restless, with chants of “attack, attack attack” coming from the visiting supporters.

In truth, their side were struggling to break down a resolute Dons defence, with Martin saving well from a Leadbitter header whan called upon in the 80th minute.

Substitute Nicky Maynard came close to doubling the MK lead in the 88th minute but his dipping drive was tipped over the bar by Konstantopolous.

And it was the visitors who had the final say as Rhodes pounced at the death to salvage a point forhis side.

Milton Keynes Dons: 1 David Martin; 21 George Baldock, 5 Kyle McFadzean, 16 Joe Walsh; 3 Dean Lewington (c), 14 Samir Carruthers, 44 Jake Forster-Caskey; 9 Dean Bowditch (28 Nicky Maynard, 69 mins), 13 Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (8 Darren Potter, 61 mins), 31 Josh Murphy; 18 Alex Revell (12 Jordan Spence, 84 mins).

Subs not used: 22 Cody Cropper, 17 Daniel Powell, 38 Rob Hall, 23 Jonny Williams.

Middlesbrough: 1 Dimi Konstantopolous, 24 Emilio Nsue, 26 Thomas Kalas, 6 Ben Gibson, 5 Ritchie De Laet, 19 Stewart Downing, 34 Adam Forshaw (9 Jordan Rhodes, 68 mins) 7 Grant Leadbitter (c), 21 Gaston Ramirez (23 Kike Sola, 84 mins), 18 Cristhian Stuani (10 Carlos de Pena, 68 mins) 35 David Nugent.

Subs not used: 13 Tomas Mejias, 8 Adam Clayton, 16 Julien de Sart, 22 Dael Fry.

Referee: Andy Davies.

Attendance: 11,256