Alex Revell saved a penalty in a remarkable 1-1 draw between MK Dons and Preston at Deepdale on Saturday.
With the match finely poised with eight minutes to go, thanks to goals from Jermaine Beckford and Nicky Maynard, Cody Cropper’s foul on Eoin Doyle brought out the red card for the Dons stopper, forcing the striker between the sticks.
Flying high to his right, Revell kept out Joe Garner’s spot kick to secure a point for Dons, though the gap to safety remains at nine points with four games to go.
Having served his three match suspension after being sent off against Brighton, Kyle McFadzean returned to the starting line-up at the heart of the defence, with Antony Kay dropping to the bench. George Baldock didn’t travel to Deepdale after picking up a hip injury, handing Jordan Spence his first start since January. Samir Carruthers came back into the squad, playing behind Nicky Maynard.
Despite starting pretty well, winning a few corners and seeing a Maynard shot sail over the bar, Dons were trailing to Preston after seven minutes. A ball played through the middle of the defence looked to be bread and butter for keeper Cody Cropper, but he hesitated and it gave Jermaine Beckford free reign to latch onto the ball and clip the ball over the stricken keeper to score his first goal since the play-off final last May.
It sparked a period of Dons unease, unable to keep the ball while looking distinctly uninterested while doing it. But after Marnick Vermijl wasted a decent chance at the far post for Preston, Dons got back into things. Passing nicely in the centre of the park and spreading the play wide, they found themselves in promising positions but their final ball left a lot to be desired.
And with no end product, they were lucky not to be 2-0 when Greg Cunningham burst into the area and fired off a rocket, only to see it clawed away by Cropper, diving backwards to keep it out.
Apart from Cropper’s mistake, Dons were probably unlucky to be trailing at the break but eight minutes after the break they were level and it came from another goalkeeping mistake. Josh Murphy’s low cross looked bread and butter for Anders Lindegaard to scoop up, but the former Manchester United man let it through his hands, and after a brief struggle, Maynard was on hand to sweep in the equaliser.
With the goal came a renewed sense of belief from the visitors. Within seconds of coming on, Alex Revell came up just inches short of another Murphy cross as he threw himself into the goal.
After his earlier mistake, Lindegaard made amends with 20 minutes to go when Dean Bowditch’s cross made it’s way to the far post for Kyle McFadzean to volley on goal, but it was well kept out by the Dane.
But just as things were going well for the visitors, it all threatened to go wrong with eight minutes to go. With all the substitutions made, Eoin Doyle raced through on goal but was brought down by Cropper as he tried to round him. Given no choice, referee Stuart Atwell sent the American off, forced Revell to Joe Garner’s penalty. Incredibly though, Revell dived high to his right and kept out the striker’s effort, much to the disbelief of Garner and the Preston fans behind the goal.
The game, now lacking style and grace, swept from end-to-end, with Preston desperate to pop off shots against a striker in goal while Dons fancied their chances on the break. Callum Robinson missed an absolute sitter as Dons were outnumbered at the far post, blasting over from 15 yards, while at the other end, Murphy had to do better when he got in behind, but bent his strike wide of the far post.
Referee: Stuart Atwell
Preston North End: Lindegaard, Vermijl, Wright, Huntington, Cunningham, Pearson (Browne 73), Gallagher, Johnson, Reach (Robinson 79), Beckford (Garner 62), Doyle
Subs not used: Kirkland, Clarke, Welsh, Hugill
MK Dons: Cropper, Lewington, McFadazean, Walsh, Spence (Baker 78), Potter, Forster-Caskey (Williams 46), Murphy, Carruthers, Bowditch, Maynard (Revell 68)
Subs not used: Burns, Long, Kay, Powell
Sent off: Cropper