REPORT: MK Dons 1-2 Blackburn Rovers: Dons fall back into trouble
MK Dons are back in the League 1 relegation zone after losing to title-chasing Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at Stadium MK on Monday.
Adam Armstrong's first half double threatened to put the game to bed with 45 minutes to go, but a rejuvenated Dons wouldn't let their undefeated run of four games go lightly, battling back in the second period. Peter Pawlett headed home Kieran Agard's cross with 18 minutes to go to make for a thrilling finale, and he could have levelled it in the last minute but fired his effort straight at keeper David Raya.
Oldham's 2-1 win Blackpool sees Dons drop back into the drop zone, level on points with AFC Wimbledon above them but with a less goal-difference ahead of their trip to fellow title-chasers Wigan Athletic next week.
As part of his loan deal with Blackburn, Elliott Ward was ineligible to play for MK Dons. As such, he was replaced in the side by Ethan Ebanks-Landell. The only other change from Thursday night's win over Gillingham saw Callum Brittain come in for Kieran Agard.
The difference in the league table was noticible almost from kick off. With a potent front line, Rovers should have taken the lead after just three minutes but Marcus Antonsson fired over at the far post when he and Danny Graham were left totally unmarked to get to Elliott Bennett's cross.
As Dons stuttered in the opening exchanges, it came as little surprise when Roverswent in front on 12 mintues. A straight-forward ball over the top led to a foot-race between Robbie Muirhead and Adam Armstrong, and with the Rovers man getting his nose in front, he coolly slotted past Lee Nicholls to give the visitors the lead.
Far from shrinking into their shells though, Dons came back at the would-be league leaders and but for some David Raya heroics, they would have been level. Peter Pawlett struck from the edge of the box to get the keeper diving to his left, but he his best came when, picked out by an Ed Upson free kick, Chuks Aneke looked destined to score only to see Spanish keeper again fly to his left to deny his header. Callum Brittain too came close to finding an equalise, but his strike was just wide of the mark.
The game settled somewhat, but it was Rovers who looked far more potent on the front foot, with Armstrong their leading man. He almost doubled the lead when his cross looked to be dipping in, forcing Nicholls into a flap over the top before making Nicholls get down low to deny him from the edge of the box.
He would get his much-deserved second on the stroke of half time though in almost a carbon copy of the first. Threaded through by Graham, he out-paced Dean Lewington before cutting inside the Dons skipper and fired low past Nicholls to put Rovers firmly in pole position heading into the second half.
In a bid to keep tabs on Armstrong, Micciche sacrificed Muirhead for the returning Scott Golbourne at the interval, while Ouss Cisse was replaced by Kieran Agard.
The second period was something of a cruise for the visitors for the first 25 minutes. Barely troubled at one end, Armstrong again was the thorn in Dons' side as he switched flanks, this time seeing his effort deflected just wide as it brushed Scott Wootton on the way past the post.
Dons though weren't giving up lightly, and after Aneke fired one into the side-netting, they were given a life-line when Peter Pawlett headed home Agard's cross with 18 minutes remaining.
With the home side now on the front foot, they were handed a huge let off seven minutes from time when Wootton gave the ball away around 35 yards from the Blackburn goal, and it allowed substitute Jack Payne to unleash fellow sub Dominic Samuel to run half the length of the field with just Nicholls to beat, but he fired well over the bar.
But the home side would still have a say, throwing everything at Rovers in the closing stages and but for another Raya stop, probably would have earned a point. Aneke and Brittain combined for Pawlett to rifle one from close range as the clock ticked over to 90 minuites, but while it was fierce it was straight at the Rovers keeper.
Referee: Kevin Friend
Attendance: 11,215 (2,524)
MK Dons: Nicholls, Lewington (Thomas-Asante 79), Ebanks-Landell, Wootton, Muirhead (Golbourne 46), G Williams, Upson, Cisse (Agard 46), Brittain, Pawlett, Aneke
Subs not used: Siestma, Reo-Coker, McGrandles, Ugbo
Blackburn Rovers: Raya, D Williams, Smallwood, Graham (Samuel 72), Mulgrew, Armstrong, Antonsson (Payne 51), Dack (Bell 77), Downing, Evans, Bennett
Subs not used: Leutwiler, Whittingham, Caddis, Bell, Conway