A Nahki Wells equaliser five minutes from time thwarted MK Dons chances of victory as the 10 men of Huddersfield salvaged a 1-1 draw at stadium:mk on Tuesday night.
Alex Revell’s 28th minute header looked to be enough to take all three points for the home side, especially when substitute Philip Billing was given his marking orders just three minutes after coming on at half time.
However, Dons failed to see out the game as Huddersfield poured forwards late on, with Wells poking past Cody Cropper in the 85th minute to rescue a point for the visitors.
The result sees Dons edge a point further from the relegation zone - a gap that now sits at six - but it should have been more.
After the horror-show on Saturday against Bristol City, Karl Robinson made four changes to his side, most notably Cody Cropper in goal, replacing injured David Martin. The misfiring front line was given a significant face lift, with Alex Revell, Jonny Williams and Dean Bowditch returning to the starting 11 at the expense of Nicky Maynard, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Rob Hall.
Without a single shot on target against Bristol City, Dons looked to make amends from the off and gave Town keeper Jed Steer a very busy opening period. Williams and Revell both stung the palms of the stopper with excellent strikes, while Bowditch had a fierce drive bravely blocked by Martin Craine from close range as Dons set their stall out early.
The three out-field introductions were certainly proving their merits as starters, involved in everything Dons were producing, while Jake Forster-Caskey was running the show in the engine room, showing some silky footwork to establish himself as the midfield general.
It was all MK Dons in the opening stages, and they were rewarded after 28 minutes when some great build-up play involving George Baldock, Darren Potter and Bowditch gave Williams space down the right, and he was able to pick out Revell in the centre, who routinely headed past Steer to give Dons the lead.
With Dons’ midfield very much in control, it offered the visitors very little in the way of manoeuvrability. Forster-Caskey and Potter dominated the play, and exploiting Dons’ pace out wide, with both Baldock and Murphy keen to get forward. Chances came at a premium though as Huddersfield tightened up as they approached half time, unable to add to their lead.
Town boss David Wagner was distinctly unimpressed with his side and promptly made two changes at the interval, introducing Elvis Manu and Philip Billing. But the latter would last just three minutes as he caught Forster-Caskey late and with a high boot. Referee Michael Bull wasted no time in sending the 19-year-old back to the dressing room for an early bath, reducing the visitors to 10 men.
But despite being a man short, Town looked a more threatening unit in the second period. With more of the ball, they still didn’t really cause much trouble for the Dons defence, though Cropper proved his credentials between the posts, tipping Nahki Wells’ shot over the top with 20 minutes to go.
The sending off had effectively killed off what had stood to be an exciting second half - not that the home fans cared though. While afforded more space to attack into, Dons opted to keep the ball in the closing stages to ensure the points.
But their complacency would prove to be their downfall as the 10 men equalised with five minutes to go. With centre back Mark Hudson thrown forward, Kyle McFadzean failed to deal with his header, and it allowed Wells to ghost in behind and poke the ball past a helpless Cropper to share the spoils.
Referee: Michael Bull
MK Dons: Cropper, Baldock, McFadzean, Walsh, Lewington, Forster-Caskey, Potter, Bowditch, Williams (Maynard 75), Murphy (Hall 69), Revell
Subs not used: Burns, Spence, Kay, Powell, Emmanuel-Thomas
Huddersfield Town: Steer, Smith, Hudson, Hogg, Paterson, Matmour, Cranie, Husband (Lynch 80), Bunn (Manu 46), Lolley (Billing 46), Wells
Subs not used: Murphy, Davidson, Whitehead, Dempsey
Booked: Hogg, Wells, McFadzean
Sent off: Billing