Town 2 MK Dons 2
Town: Chris Weale, Jermaine Grandison, Julian Bennett, Joe Jacobson, Darren Jones, Jon Taylor, Matt Richards (c) Mark Wright, Luke Summerfield, Luke Rodgers, Marvin Morgan
Subs: Joe Anyon, Rob Purdie, Asa Hall, Jeremy Helan, Ryan Doble, Aaron Wildig, Connor Goldson
MK Dons: David Martin, Jon Otsemobor, Dean Lewington (c) (Chicksen, 59), Shaun Williams, Stephen Gleeson, Darren Potter, Dean Bowditch, Alan Smith, Anthony Kay, Luke Chadwick (McDonald, 75), Angelo Balanta (Powell, 59)
Subs: Ian McLoughlin, Mathias Doumbe, Charlie McDonald, Adam Chicksen, Ryan Lowe, Daniel Powell, Ibrah Sekajja
Referee: D. Drysdale
Assistants: J. Clark & S. Barrow
Fourth Official: D. Meeson
Attendance: 4,747 (183 from Milton Keynes)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Graham Turner sticks with the same line-up that managed to hold on to a one goal lead and secure a vital three points at the weekend in the home clash with Crewe.
MK arrive at the Meadow occupying second spot in League One and are on the back of a six game unbeaten run in all competitions.
The first meaningful action saw a Beckham-esque pass from all of 50 or 60 yards from Darren Jones pick out Jon Taylor who did well to keep it in down by the corner flag. The wingers cross was cut out but in typically tenacious fashion, Taylor closed down his man and put the ball into the net off the base of the post - but there were no protests when he was rightly penalised for a foul in the build-up.
Moments later Chris Weale misjudged a ball into the left hand channel and Town were grateful for the defensive cover provided by Julian Bennett with the Town stopper well out of position.
In truth, it was a fairly uneventful opening 20 minutes with neither side able to create anything resembling a clear-cut opportunity, save for the earlier slight indiscretion from the Shrews keeper. Stephen Gleeson did fizz an exceptional ball across the six yard line for the visitors but it eluded any of the white shirts up in support. And Angelo Balanta – on loan from Premier League strugglers QPR – sent a shot in from the edge of the box but it lacked pace or direction and Weale comfortably gathered.
Luke Rodgers won a corner for Town midway through the half which Jones headed straight at David Martin, but Rodgers had shown a good turn of pace to win the corner, almost creating a shooting opportunity before being forced wide at the near post.
On the half hour MK had the best chance of the night. Darren Potter’s superbly weighted through ball fell for ex-Manchester United starlet Luke Chadwick but Weale was off his line in an instant to block as the striker looked to deftly lift the ball over him. Saturday’s goalscoring hero Luke Summerfield then fired over for the hosts from outside the box as the game finally came to life.
Jones dropped a header from a Joe Jacobson free-kick into the arms of Martin but the centre-half might have done better with his attempt and perhaps could have done with a call from a team-mate to let him know he had more time than he had anticipated.
The home fans amongst the 4,747 crowd inside the Meadow were appreciative of their side’s efforts and they were providing excellent backing. They were soon applauding again when Marvin Morgan chanced his arm with a long range effort but Martin was equal to it with a save low down to his right.
In the final minute of the half the visitors went ahead. Dean Bowditch found a bit of room in the area and pulled the ball back for Balanta who steered his shot into the bottom corner to give Weale no chance. It was cruel on Town with the goal coming at an awful time and probably changing the dynamics of the manager’s half-time team talk.
Half Time: Town 0 MK Dons 1
The Buckinghamshire side had won all nine of their previous games in which they had scored first, so the magnitude of Shrewsbury’s task for the second 45 was very evident.
But the home side began well with Taylor seeing plenty of the ball and generally making a nuisance of himself in the early exchanges. Morgan had a chance to level when Mark Wright sent him through down the left but when the big man tried to take the ball around the last man, it got caught under his feet. He managed to retain possession and fed Wright who had got up to join the play but his low ball in found Rodgers stood in an offside position and the chance was gone.
Morgan and Rodgers combined again on 54 minutes but Morgan’s cross had too much pace on it for Rodgers to make the right contact otherwise we might have been all square. And a hair’s breadth saw Rodgers offside again from a brilliant Matt Richards through ball which gave the Brummie a clear 40 yard run on goal. It was all Salop and the home supporters again cranked up the volume.
In an attempt to stem the tide, Karl Robinson made a dual change. Balanta was withdrawn just before the hour and skipper Dean Lewington was also replaced with Town well on top and looking menacing every time they went forward.
The goal was coming and on 64 minutes Rodgers got his first for the club since rejoining 11 days ago. Richards’ ball forward saw Morgan round Martin and he picked out his strike partner central to goal 10 yards out. Rodgers wasn’t going to fluff his lines and he duly leathered the ball high into goal before wheeling away in celebration. It was no more than Town deserved as they had completely dominated since falling behind. MK looked rattled and Shrews looked in the mood to land a prized scalp.
Eighteen minutes from time the pendulum swung still further and Richards was instrumental again with another killer pass inside the full backs. Wright received the pass and opened up his body to expertly pick out the far corner past the flailing dive of the helpless Martin. The crowd went nuts with their heroes quite simply rampant.
Robinson needed to freshen things up again and Chadwick’s evening ended with 15 minutes left with Charlie McDonald tasked with injecting some fire into a team that were distinctly second best. Turner didn’t need to freshen his side up – they looked as fresh after 78 minutes as they had done after one.
There was a heart in mouth moment when Gleeson tumbled in the box but Mr. Drysdale – who had refereed the game very well indeed – wasn’t interested. Then Bowditch’s effort cannoned wildly off Bennett and feathered the side netting when in truth the ball could have gone anywhere. For a change, MK were having the better of things and a mistake by Grandison could have been costly when McDonald ran clear but the substitute went down looking for a pen when he would have been well advised to have stayed on his feet. McDonald’s night got worse five minutes from the end when he clattered into Weale who showed great bravery to dive at the striker’s feet, but the colour of the card matched the colour of the Town keeper’s jersey – yellow.
The visitors would in fact play out the remaining minutes a man light when substitute Daniel Powell had to limp down the tunnel with a hamstring strain.
In the first minute of added on time the away side levelled with a goal from nothing. A long punt forward was headed out to Bowditch who connected sweetly and blasted in a volley from 25 yards with Weale rooted to the spot.
Town had conceded in the last minute of the first half but were punished far more cruelly right at the death to give MK a share of the spoils that they hardly deserved.
Full Time: Town 2 MK Dons 2