George Baldock’s unstoppable stoppage time effort earned all three points for MK Dons as they fought back to win 2-1 at Swindon Town on Saturday.
Deep into injury time, Baldock burst forward from right back, and spotting an opening, launched a spectacular left-footed strike into the far corner to seal it, moving Dons up to seventh in League 1.
But Dons found themselves trailing when David Martin couldn’t keep hold of Alex Pritchard’s 19th strike, palming it up in the air, letting Michael Smith head in unchallenged to give the home side the lead.
While it looked like the wheels were falling off Dons’ early promise, Antony Kay’s bullet header pulled them level with 65 minutes played before Baldock’s rocket in stoppage time won it for the visitors.
Karl Robinson made two changes to the side which lost 1-0 to Sheffield United last Saturday, with Alan Smith and Sanmi Odelusi both handed starts in place of Luke Chadwick and Daniel Powell.
The club had a familiar face warming up with them pre-match in Mark Randall, who looks set to sign for Dons on Monday, subject to international clearance.
In the early exchanges, it was one-way traffic for the away side. Sanmi Odelusi, Larnell Cole and Izale McLeod were seeing a lot of the ball in the final third, while Ben Reeves was hovering dangerously behind them, and twice rattled shots just wide of the mark.
Alan Smith, playing just in front of the Dons defence, was working well as the midfield general, using his power to make things uncomfortable for the Swindon front line.
But the home side took an unlikely lead in the 19th minute, and the goal came from another goalkeeping error from David Martin. Alex Pritchard took the ball to the edge of the area and cut inside George Baldock, unleashing a swerving drive on goal. The ball moved through the air, but Martin simply palmed it up into the sky, and Michael Smith took the chance by following up, and was left unmarked and unchallenged to nod the ball over the line.
After the goal, the wheels started to come off Dons’ attacking play. Passes, which earlier were finding their man, were suddenly half a yard off and they were unable to string more than three together.
It had the opposite effect on the home side though, as they suddenly looked alive, and dangerous. Ryan Harley, who was on loan at Dons last season, almost added to the scoreline when he snuck in around the back of Baldock, but his shot was deflected just wide of the target. Troy Archibald-Henville volleyed the corner inches past the post.
Dons looked far more composed again in the second half, but didn’t have the same penetration as they did in the opening exchanges. With Daniel Powell replacing Larnell Cole, Dons had a bit more joy down the right flank as Baldock overlapped to add to the threat.
Arguably, Dons’ biggest concern in the second half was the fitness of Jordan Spence. He fell to the ground just six minutes after the restart, but looked to be carrying the knock throughout the half.
But just when things were looking desperate for the visitors, Antony Kay produced a bullet header from Ben Reeves’ 65th minute corner to equalise.
As with Swindon’s opener, Dons’ goal spurred on the visitors and they looked by far the better team in the latter stages. Dean Bowditch was introduced with 15 minutes to go and was instrumental in some of the late action. Cutting inside his full-back, he saw his shot blocked only as far as McLeod, but Tyrell Belford was a match for it, diving low to keep hold.
And Bowditch had the chance to win three minutes from the end when McLeod slipped him through, but Belford closed the angle and got a vital block in.
But with a minute of stoppage time remaining, Baldock ranged forward, cut inside on to his left foot and unleashed an unstoppable strike into the far corner to win it for the visitors.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Attendance: 7,424 (322)
Swindon Town: Belford, Nathan Thompson (McEverley 82), Byrne, Luongo, Harley, Pritchard, Kasim (Murphy 65), Louis Thompson, Ward, Michael Smith (N’Guessan 86), Archibald-Henville
Subs not used: Bedwell, Rossi-Branco, Barker, Gladwin
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Baldock, Kay, Spence, Alan Smith, Alli, Reeves, Cole (Powell 45) , Odelusi (Bowditch 75), McLeod
Subs not used: Burns, Chadwick, Rasulo, Hall, Collingee
Booked: Kay, Baldock