Ben Reeves scored in stoppage time as Dons finally managed to breakdown 10-man Oldham Athletic, winning 2-1 at stadium:mk.
After a lackluster first half, which saw Dons trail to an Adam Lockwood header, Dons looked a different side all together in the second period, epitomised by Samir Carruthers’ superb individual effort to equalise four minutes after the restart. Genseric Kusunga picked up his second yellow card with 25 minutes to go as Dons went all out for the winner, which finally arrived in the third minute of stoppage time as Reeves fired in to secure the win.
Karl Robinson made one change to the side which comprehensively beat Walsall last Saturday, with Luke Chadwick replacing injured Darren Potter.
Though the home side looked the more confident side in the opening 10 minutes, they looked on shaky ground in defence and twice made mistakes which almost gifted Oldham the lead: a moment of miscommunication between Lee Hodson and David Martin almost allowed Danny Philliskirk to nip in, though the keeper recovered, and Martin was once again played into trouble when Dean Lewington saw nothing on ahead of him, choosing to launch the ball back from the halfway line, straight out for a corner. Lewington made amends though, clearing the corner.
Izale McLeod, making his second start in a row, should have given Dons the lead with 11 minutes on the clock when Hodson ranged forward and sent in a low ball across the face of goal. With McLeod unmarked in the middle, the striker got caught flat-footed and watched as the threat diminished.
The opening half an hour didn’t make for a thrilling contest by any stretch of the imagination. Neither of the sides looked capable of keeping the ball for more than four passes, but it was the away side that carved out the best chances.
Jon Stead broke the offside trap a couple of times but while he was sent too far wide with the first break, the second saw him through one-on-one with Martin. After rounding the keeper, his shot was brilliantly blocked by Hodson who had raced back.
But the away side did finally take the lead eight minutes before the break, though it was borne out of dubious beginnings. Ben Reeves appeared to be pulled to the ground as he tussled with Philliskirk on the byline, though linesman Neil Davies gave a freekick in Oldham’s favour. From the set-piece, Dons simply went to sleep to allow Adam Lockwood a free header, which looped up into the net.
But it took just four second half minutes for Dons to get themselves back on level terms, and it came courtesy of a brilliant Samir Carruthers solo effort. Picking the ball up on the edge of the centre circle, he shrugged off the challenges of Gary Harkins and James Wesolowski before worming his way into the penalty area, firing with his right foot back across goal, bobbling past Mark Oxley’s outstretched hand and into the bottom corner.
The goal certainly breathed new life into the home side, and they could have taken the lead 13 minutes later when Ryan Hall, who replaced Chadwick, found Reeves hovering on the edge of the box, but despite beating Oxley in the Oldham goal, his shot came back off the base of the post.
And the home side were given a helping hand with 25 minutes remaining when Genseric Kusunga, who was walking the tightrope after a collecting silly early booking and making a handful of lazy challenges, used up his final life taking out Gleeson 35 yards from goal, earning himself an early bath.
It was all hands to the pump for Oldham then as Dons began turning the screw searching for a decisive winner. Antony Kay, Ben Reeves and Stephen Gleeson all had efforts off target from a long way out, but the best chance fell to McLeod who found himself unmarked at a corner, but simple didn’t connect well enough as the ball glanced off his head.
Time was running out for Dons though and despite their pressure and possession, they simply couldn’t work a breakthrough. Reeves forced a super stop from Oxley after more great work from Carruthers, and there was a half-hearted penalty appeal when Kay went down at a corner, but it was more out of hope than anything else.
But up popped Reeves in stoppage time to win it for Dons. Carruthers whipped in another dangerous cross from the left-hand side aimed at Baldock making a break from the far side. Oxley came out to claim it, but parried only as far as Reeves who had the simple task of shooting into the empty net to win it for the home side.
Referee: Chris Sarginson
Attendance: 7,385 (355)
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Hodson (Baldock 68), Kay, Spence, Gleeson, Chadwick (Hall 58), Reeves, Powell (Alli 77), Carruthers, McLeod
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Smith, Galloway, Rasulo
Oldham Athletic: Oxley, Grounds, Wesolowski, Kusunga, Stead (Clarke-Harris 68), Wilson, Lockwood, Dayton (MacDonald 80), Philliskirk, Worrall, Harkins (Brown 68)
Subs not used: Rachubka, MacDonald, Kissock, Winchester, Turner
Sent off: Kusunga