REPORT: MK Dons 1-1 Walsall: Aneke's first goal curtailed by another defensive lapse
Chuks Aneke's first goal of the season had the gloss taken off it by a Tyler Roberts penalty as Walsall took a point from Stadium MK on Tuesday night, drawing 1-1 with MK Dons.
Aneke, making his first league start since February, headed home Ed Upson's pinpoint free kick after 24 minutes to give Dons a deserved lead, and could have doubled it before the break when he powered through the defence only to fire over.
But a silly challenge from Ethan Ebanks-Landell on Roberts 11 minutes into the second half saw the striker draw the Saddlers level to escape with a point.
Of the three changes to the MK Dons line-up after Saturday's dismal 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth, Chuks Aneke inevitably stole the headlines with his first start since February, starting up front alongside Kieran Agard, who also came into the team. Joe Walsh was the other change as Neilson started with a back three, while Callum Brittain recovered him his hamstring knock picked up at Fratton Park to remain in the side.
The home side, kicking towards the Cowshed in the opening half, started the brighter but simply couldn't create anything. The energy was a stark contrast to the game at Portsmouth, though the lack of end product was threatening to repeat the weekend's defeat.
Walsall weren't looking too keen on setting up for anything other than a point initially, and only really had a five minute spell of pressure in the first half where they didn't threaten Lee Nicholls' goal, but it dragged the life out of the game.
With the game falling into something of a lull though, the game was given a lift when Aneke got the goal he was so desperate for, heading home Ed Upson's free kick after 24 minutes to give the home side the lead.
The goal gave the home side a significant lift again, and it certainly gave a new level of confidence to Aneke who should have added a second before the break when he powered through the Walsall defence only to blast over the top.
The Saddlers really had nothing to their name for their efforts in the opening 56 minutes, but were handed a gift of a lifeline when Ethan Ebanks-Landell, who gave away the ball for the opener at Fratton Park on Saturday, brought down Tyler Roberts. Roberts dusted himself off and converted the penalty with aplomb to draw the visitors level.
There could well have been a penalty within minutes of Walsall's when Aneke was pulled back by Liam Kinsella, only for referee John Brooks to be completely unmoved.
While Neilson threw Osman Sow into the mix in the latter stages, it was Walsall who had the better chances to win the game. Roberts just sprung the offside trap when he rattled one past Nicholls, while Amadou Bakayoko showed a lack of confidence when he was through on goal, but opted to shoot from long range rather than take on the Dons keeper.
Sow would last just 20 minutes on the field though as he hobbled from the field three minutes from time after a collision with keeper Gillespie as both sides threw caution to the wind to no avail.
Referee: John Brooks
MK Dons: Nicholls, Walsh, Wootton, Ebanks-Landell, Brittain, Golbourne, Upson (Nesbitt 81), Cisse, Gilbey, Aneke, Agard (Sow 67 (Ariyibi 88))
Subs not used: Sietsma, Williams, Lewington, Seager
Walsall: Gillespie, Leahy, Guthrie, Chambers, Chambers, Cuvelier (Kouhyar 79), Morris (Ismail 74), Wilson, Kinsella, T Roberts (Oztumer 86), Bakayoko
Subs not used: L Roberts, Donnellan, K Roberts, Agyei