The night Dons became genuine League 1 title contenders

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AT the end of the season, MK Dons fans will look back at Tuesday’s dramatic 1-1 draw away at AFC Bournemouth as the night their side really launched their campaign to become League 1 champions, writes Toby Lock.

After Lewis Grabban’s 16th minute opener, Dons knew they would be in for a tough night, but it was made even harder when – three minutes later – Alan Smith dived into a challenge with Harry Arter, earning him the club’s third red card in as many games.

Playing for 71 minutes with just 10 men, Dons defended heroically.

Bournemouth bombarded their new-look back four, which featured summer signing Jon Otsemobor for the first time, but they hardly tested David Martin.

Their switch to a more direct style in the second half in truth made it easier for Dons to deal with, despite the aerial threat of veteran striker Steve Fletcher.

And the hosts didn’t account for Daniel Powell’s neat finish to equalise 28 minutes from time as Dons left the Goldsands Stadium with a thoroughly deserved and hard-fought point.

Perhaps it’s too early to say it was the night that earmarked Dons as potential champions, but the sterner, meaner looking team which appeared on Tuesday was one that looked more determined and focussed to battle for every available point than ever before.