MK Dons’ play-off hopes were delivered a cruel blow at stadiummk as an unfortunate own goal helped Shrewsbury Town to a 3-2 victory.
The Dons were left shell-shocked when a three minute spell saw Tom Eaves net double to give the Shrews a two-goal lead against the run of play. Ryan Lowe struck back for the Dons midway through the first-half and found their equaliser 77 seconds after the re-start.
The game only ever seemed to be heading in one direction as the Dons camped in the Shrews’ half in a dominant display; however, there was an unlucky twist as Antony Kay watched in horror as his backpass tricked into the net and handed the Shrews the victory.
Dons refused to give up but as they huffed and puffed with every ball played forward they could not find the third which would have rescued a point.
Izale McLeod was given the nod to start as one of two changes in the MK Dons side to play against Shrewsbury. McLeod was handed the task of leading the line while Ryan Lowe dropped into the supporting role in the hole, and Mathias Kouo-Doumbe also came into the side at right-back as Adam Chicksen
took up a place on the wing to replace the injured Daniel Powell.
stadiummk was a freezing cold setting for Tuesday night football, but the Dons tried to turn up the heat in the opening five minutes Dean Bowditch fizzed a low shot wide of the mark before Chicksen curled a wonderful strike just inches wide.
At the opposite end, Luke Summerfield attempted an ambitious effort from some 35-yards but was left looking sheepish as he skied high into the stands of the Cowshed.
The Dons were keen to spread the ball around and the right channel in particular looked to be an important avenue for the hosts with Dean Bowditch running with the ball at his feet at every opportunity. The host had by far outplayed their Shrewsbury opponents in the opening quarter of an hour but a moment’s lapse proved costly for the Dons.
Shrews forward Eaves skipped through the middle before outmuscling his way beyond Shaun Williams and firing Graham Turner’s side into the lead with 16 minutes on the clock.
It was blow for the Dons who had, by far, dominated the early stages but another blow quickly followed in the form of another Eaves goal.
Just three minutes after opening the scoring the Shrews were back on the attack with Eaves turning his way past Lowe to tuck a superb curling shot into the far netting.
The Dons were stunned to be two-goals down after having so much control in the opening stages but the tricky 21-year-old Eaves was a real handful for the back four, and the hosts needed to regain the composure or risk the game completely slipping away.
As luck would have it, the Dons quickly responded when a Bowditch corner was whipped into the near post and Lowe was in the right place at the right time to bundle the ball home. The Liverpudlian did not seem to know much about it as the ball nestled into the netting, but the urgency to get back on level terms showed as the Dons raced back to the semi-circle.
The main star of the show, Eaves, could deem himself a lucky man when referee David Phillips only deemed his flailing arm into the face of Dean Lewington a caution. Mr Phillips was th man who had sent off Lewington earlier in the season for a tamer foul at Swindon.
With seven minutes to go before the half-time interval, Robinson made his first gamble of the evening by sacrificing Kouo-Doumbe to introduce Stephen Gleeson in a tactical switch. The Dons went to three at the back and shuffled their back into a 3-2-3-2 formation as they aimed for more fluidity up front.
The immediate response from Robinson’s men saw McLeod get across the ball and flash a header into the palms of Chris Weale.
The Dons had one last stab at goal before the break when a long ball released Chicksen down the left wing and the utility man lashed a cross into the box which Gleeson hit first-time but saw his shot blocked by a wall of Shrews bodies.
However, the Dons had a dream start to the second half when; less than two minutes into the restart, Williams curled a free-kick from the right of the area into the box which evaded everyone excepted the smallest man on the pitch, Lowe.
The forward planted the perfect header to beat Weale from close range to pull the Dons back on level terms and spark a new belief in the team.
Moments later Lowe was on the hunt for his hat-trick as Bowditch breached the right flank, but the striker was unable to connect as the ball was cut back into his path and the loose ball popped up to McLeod but he fired wide.
In midfield the Dons had Gleeson who, even though still nowhere near 100 per cent fit, looked hungry for victory. His tackling had been timed to perfection, his eagerness was emphasised when he picked the ball out of the net to run back to the halfway line as his team-mates celebrated and he had an eye for goal too with a stunning 30-yard volley rattling the stanchion, much to the disappointment of the Cowshed.
It only ever looked as though the Dons were the team to go on and find the winner, but in a cruel, cruel twist of fate they gift wrapped the Shrews a third in the 68th minute. Kay was caught in two minds as Matt Richards lobbed a hopeful ball outside the box and an awkward heavy touch, possibly off his shin, saw the centre-back, who had not realised that McLoughlin had moved to his left, turn the ball into his own net.
Shrewsbury had barely ventured out of their half, yet remarkably found themselves 3-2 to the good.
Kay desperately tried to make amends for the unlucky phase of play as he raced forward and saw a overhead scissor-kick falling into the grateful arms of Weale.
Late sub Alan Smith had the final effort at goal when he saw his header turned superbly over the bar by the Shrews goalie deep in added time. Ultimately though, the Dons even at full-stretch could not track down the much-needed equaliser as they fell to their first defeat in seven games.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): McLoughlin; Kouo-Doumbe (Gleeson 38), Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Lines (Smith 83); Bowditch, Lowe, Chicksen; McLeod (Bamford 54).
Subs not used: Otsemobor, Flanagan, Baldock.
Goals: Lowe 27, 47
Shrewsbury Town (4-4-2): Weale; Gayle, Jones, Mambo, Jacobson; Taylor (Parry 87), Summerfield, McAllister, Richards; Eaves (Porter 90), Morgan.
Subs not used: Anyon (GK), McGinn, Goldson, Porter, Rodgers.
Goals: Eaves 16, 19, Kay O.G 68
Referee: David Phillips (West Sussex)
Attendance: 6,672 (233 away)
Goal-Don Goal times: 1st goal - 15.22; 2nd goal - 18.07; 3rd goal - 26.20; 4th goal - 46.17; 5th goal 67.55