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Match Report


Posted Fri 25 Mar 11 at 22:51 PM


MK Dons maintained fifth place in League 1 after coming from behind to draw 1-1 with Walsall at stadiummk. The Dons were able to extend their unbeaten run to  games when Peter Leven confidently dispatched a 50th minute penalty to cancel out Matt Richards' first-half strike. Both the Dons and Walsall, strengthening their bid for survival as each game passes by, had chances to claim all three points as Angelo Balanta hit the underside of the bar, causing some debate as to whether the ball crossed the line, and Saddlers' impressive Julian Gray also rattled the woodwork. Although the draw may have ended Karl Robinson's team's run of five consecutive victories, it is another point towards their play-off challenge. Luke Chadwick tries to get a block in Inside a minute the Dons had a great opportunity to stamp their mark on the game when Daniel Powell's awkward touch on a cross from the left of the box fell in the favour of Sam Baldock, but the forward's shot lacked the power to cause Jimmy Walker any real problems. The Walsall defence had trouble keeping tabs on the movement of Powell as he drifted in from the right wing to force a parried save from the goalkeeper, which was cleared away by the defender before Baldock could follow-up. The Saddlers backline again proved difficult to crack in the 11th minute when Baldock manoeuvred his way through yet Tom Williams blocked the drilled effort. Walsall took some time to get a hold on the game and when they did impose themselves on the home side they showed the attacking ability that had spurred their 5-2 win over Hartlepool a week earlier. Darren Byfield, who enjoyed a strong battle with Dean Lewington, provided the pass for Emmanuel Ledesma to call on a low save from David Martin. Sam Baldock chases the ball ahead of Andy Butler The bright spark for the Saddlers was winger Gray, with power and speed he proved to be a thorn in the side of the Dons as Martin turned his strike away at the near post. And it was through Ledesma that Walsall were able to produce their most effective and creative play. The Argentinean's wonderful diagonal ball for Byfield allowed the striker to patiently wait for Marc Laird to go unnoticed in the box before Gary MacKenzie and Peter Leven blocked the powerful shot. Brimming with confidence Walsall began to fancy their chances and Marco Grarssin tried his luck from 35-yards out, but Martin was never truly at risk. The Dons found Walsall difficult to break down in midfield and the visitors were not prepared to hand the ball over without a fight. But when Leven found possession in midfield he used it wisely, spotting the run of Powell down the flank he delivered a fine cross into his path. After reaching the by-line Powell cut back for Baldock, but the ball fell just behind the Dons' top scorer and with it the chance had gone. Instead, it was Walsall who were celebrating in the 29th minute as Richards broke the deadlock. Gray's wizardry down the left wing helped him to race into the box before firing at Martin, as the loose ball was moped away it fell to Richards who, running in at the edge of the box, volleyed past the Dons 'keeper. Marc Laird and Dean Lewington battle for the ball To add further to the Dons' frustrations they continued to have an array of shots blocked in the final third as Gleeson's powerful attempt was blocked by Walker and two recovering defenders. Rowan Vine and Baldock were also denied by the busy Saddlers defence before Powell had the chance of the half but shot over from 12-yards out.

The Dons rode their luck as Danny Woodards' misplaced clearance found goal scorer Richards, but on this occasion his right-footed strike was tipped away by Martin. After the break the Dons continued their quest for an equaliser as Vine dragged a low shot inches wide from the edge of the box. A great break from Powell and Baldock appeared to have been wasted when the Walsall defence ensured there was no room through, but the Dons patiently kept up the attack and when the ball was played back into the box for Chadwick a challenge on the midfielder by Manny Smith earned the Dons a penalty. In front of the Cowshed the pressure was on for Leven as he stepped up to the spot, however, the Scotsman showed extreme confidence with an outrageous chipped penalty to the right of Walker that levelled the scores. Chadwick goes down under the challenge of Smith Walsall could have regained the lead within a matter of minutes when Gray's shot from distance initially looked harmless but a late dip saw the Walsall fans behind the goal up on their feet as it smashed against the woodwork. The open game became even more stretched with both sides pushing on for a winner to strengthen their position at either end of the table. Baldock, released by Vine for a one-on-one with the Saddlers keeper, was denied the opportunity to fire the Dons into the lead when Walker opted to race off his line to made a terrific block with his right boot. Chances continued to be carved by both sides with Andy Bulter prodding wide from a Richards corner, and a cross-come-shot from Gray produced a fine save from Martin. The Dons went agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 75th minute, but were left to rue their luck as the ball bounced unfavourably. First Woodards' attempt at the near post dragged along the goal line and fell awkwardly for Baldock who could only knock the ball forward with his chest but it was stopped on the line. From there the loose ball landed at Balanta, on for his first appearance since undergoing ankle surgery four months ago, shot hit the underside of the bar and back out, much to the bemusement of the Dons players. Dons had late chances to win the game when Balanta slid the ball through to Baldock who, after sharing a one-two with Chadwick, unleashed a fierce effort which fell inches wide and Walker's two handed save from a Leven free-kick ensured honours were shared. MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Woodards, MacKenzie. Kouo-Doumbe, Lewington (c); Leven, Gleeson; Powell (Ibehre 73), Vine (Balanta 73), Chadwick; S Baldock. Subs not used: Searle, O'Hanlon, Clayton, Chicksen, Guy Booked: Lewington, Ibehre Walsall: Walker, Smith, Richards, Byfield (Grigg 74), Gray, Gbarssin, Laird, Williams, Ledesma (Cook 68), Butler (c), Westlake. Subs: McDonald, Taundry, Lancashire, Nicholls, Bevan. Booked: Smith, Westlake Referee: Dave Phillips (West Sussex) Attendance: 8,923 (728 away)

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