A late Luke Varney header piled more misery on already relegated MK Dons as Ipswich Town won 3-2 at Portman Road on Saturday.
In a scoreline that flattered the game greatly, David McGoldrick put the home side ahead after 16 minutes and they looked good for their lead. But McGoldrick gifted Dons a way back into the game on the stroke of half time, bringing down Samir Carruthers in the penalty area to allow Alex Revell to equalise from the spot.
Brett Pitman headed the Tractor Boys back in front on 68 minutes before Revell got his second of the afternoon seven minutes later, looking to secure a share of the points for the visitors.
But Varney’s late winner secured it for the home side, sending Dons down to 23rd in the Championship table.
After relegation was confirmed in the 4-1 thumping at home to Brentford, Karl Robinson made sweeping changes to his side at Portman Road. Six changes were made to the starting line-up, with Charlie Burns in goal, Kevin Long being handed his debut at the back, while Samir Carruthers partnered Darren Potter in the middle, and Daniel Powell, Dean Bowditch and Alex Revell came in in attack. The bench featured no goalkeeper, with Cody Cropper and David Martin out injured, and three players from the academy.
Dons looked a ramshackle team from the off and struggled to string passes together, barely making a footnote in the attacking third in the opening 15 minutes. Ipswich meanwhile looked untroubled and routine in their play, even if their chances were scant.
They still took the lead though when David McGoldrick shrugged off the attentions of Dean Lewington to tap in Freddie Sears’ cross 16 minutes in.
It should have been more but for some fine keeping from Burns, first denying McGoldrick a brace and then Teddy Bishop the follow-up shot as the home side looked in total control.
They were greatly aided by Dons’ inability to pick a pass in the final third, with Josh Murphy and Samir Carruthers both guilty of wasting chances in a drab opening period. Dean Gerken was nothing more than a spectator.
Ipswich’s control over the game extended all the way until the 45th minute, but in a moment of madness from the goal-scorer, Dons got a lifeline back into the game. As Carruthers cut back in the Ipswich penalty area, he was caught by McGoldrick who was rushing back, bringing the Dons man down. Alex Revell did the business from the penalty spot, sending Gerken the wrong way to equalise on the stroke of half time.
There were glimmers of hope in the second half from a Dons perspective when they looked to edge the early proceedings but nothing came to fruition. Carruthers had a shot which stung the palms of Gerken, while Murphy’s free kick was deflected just wide of the post, but with neither breaking the deadlock, the game edged back towards the first half stalemate.
But that all changed in the 68th minute when substitute Brett Pitman climbed highest to head home Kevin Bru’s free kick to restore the home side’s advantage.
The lead would only last seven minutes though as Revell once again pulled Dons level, beating the offside trap to tap home Murphy’s deep free kick to equalise.
Rolling the dice, Karl Robinson threw on Nicky Maynard in a bid to snatch an unlikely three points, and their chance nearly came when Revell chased a hopeless cause but kept the ball alive, whipping the ball towards his strike partner, who was only beaten to the ball at the key time by defender Christophe Berra.
But Revell wouldn’t get his hat-trick as he was replaced by 18-year-old midfielder Connor Furlong, making his debut for the final two minutes.
Cruelly, Dons were unable to hold out for the draw as they let Luke Varney ghost between centre backs Joe Walsh and Kevin Long to head in from close range to win it for the home side.
Charlton’s win at away Leeds means Dons drop to 23rd in the table.
Referee: Keith Stroud
Attendance: 19,631 (489)
Ipswich: Gerken, Smithm Berra, Skuse, McGoldrick, Feeney (Varney 75), Bru, Sears, Bishop (Pitman 62), Emmanuel, Kenlock
Subs not used: Bialkowski, Hyam, McDonnell, Digby, Foley
MK Dons: Burns, Baldock, Long, Walsh, Lewington, Potter, Carruthers (Baker 66), Powell, Bowditch (Maynard 78), Murphy, Revell (Furlong 88)
Subs not used: McFadzean, Spence, Kasumu, Jackson, Furlong