MK Dons secured a much-needed point after playing out a goalless draw with Coventry City at Stadium MK.
Paul Tisdale’s men had lost five straight league games heading into the clash but put in a spirited display to earn a share of the spoils, with Lee Nicholls saving a second-half penalty in the game’s main talking point.
Jordan Moore-Taylor was handed his first league start since January as one of three changes made by boss Tisdale from the defeat to Bristol Rovers last time out. The returning Moore-Taylor came in for Russell Martin was joined in the starting XI by Alex Gilbey and Jordan Houghton, who replaced Jordan Bowery and Baily Cargill.
There was a place amongst the substitutes for Kieran Agard, back from injury, while Regan Poole was included after missing the trip to Bristol because of international duty.
Coventry started well but the Dons almost found a way through the Sky Blues on 10 minutes. Unfortunately for them, Gilbey’s through pass had a little too much on it for the on-rushing Callum Brittain. Tisdale’s men then had an opportunity from a corner but the visitors were able to scramble the ball away at the far post.
The visitors’ first opportunity came a quarter of an hour in when a deep cross was met by Jordy Hiwula. He tried to tee up a teammate however Kasumu was able to intercept the pass and clear.
A minute later, referee John Busby was waving away penalty appeals for a foul on Hiram Boateng in the City area. The midfielder appeared to be brought down after being found by McGrandles but no spot-kick was awarded.
On 19 minutes, Moore-Taylor got himself in the way of a goal-bound improvised effort from Hiwula. The returning centre-back was at it again shortly after, sliding in to block Callum O’Hare’s shot, which looked likely to trouble Nicholls.
The best chance of the opening half an hour came in the 30th minute. It fell to Amadou Bakayoko, who was unable to find the target with his header from six yards out. Bakayoko had another headed opportunity two minutes later and this attempt was saved.
Hiwula saw an 18-yard shot deflect wide in the final action of the first half. Boateng had the first chance of the second less than a minute in – a left-footed shot which was blocked by a Sky Blues man.
The Dons maintained their positive start to the second half and almost saw Kasumu and Brittain link up, but the former’s deep cross was gathered by Marko Marosi. At the other end, Nicholls was forced into action to keep out Zain Westbrooke’s fiercely-struck free-kick.
Nicholls produced another fine stop on 52 minutes to deny Jordan Shipley. From the City captain’s cross soon after, Bakayoko cleared the crossbar with an acrobatic attempt.
The visitors were handed a chance to take the lead two minutes later, after Hiwula was brought down by Nicholls inside the box after pouncing on an under-hit backpass. Hiwula took the spot-kick himself but saw his effort saved by the MK Dons number 1.
That sparked the Stadium MK crowd into life and seconds later they were almost celebrating an opening goal at the other end of the pitch. Following a swift attack down the left, Boateng found himself unmarked in front of goal but he was denied on the half-volley by a great Marosi stop.
Boateng raced through again on 59 minutes and sent in a cross which Brittain diverted away from Marosi. Gilbey tried to latch onto the loose ball but saw a City defender just get there first to clear away.
The contest was heating up and the Dons went close again in the 67th minute with Gilbey, whose left-footed attempt was palmed away by the City goalkeeper. Moments later, Houghton denied O’Hare with a crucial last-ditch tackle on the edge of the six-yard box.
Tisdale’s first substitution arrived with 20 minutes to play as Ben Reeves came on to replace Boateng. He was involved early but was dispossessed after working his way deep inside the box.
With 14 minutes to play, substitute Gervane Kastaneer had a curling shot blocked by the legs of Moore-Taylor. The same man fired over a minute later from the edge of the Dons area.
Shipley had a header saved by Nicholls in the 80th minute before Tisdale went to the bench for his second switch – replacing Gilbey with Agard. Moments later, Westbrooke dragged a right-footed effort wide from the edge of the D.
With four minutes to play, Reeves crashed a long-range drive against the crossbar. Fankaty Dabo then tried his luck from distance at the other end of the pitch but failed to find the target.
Reeves had another opportunity late on but couldn’t keep his strike down. The whistle then below, leaving the Dons in 19th place in Sky Bet League One but with some confidence heading into two away trips next week.
Starting XI: Nicholls, Williams, Lewington (c), Walsh, Gilbey (Agard 84), Moore-Taylor, McGrandles, Houghton, Brittain, Boateng (Reeves 70), Kasumu.
Unused subs: Moore, Poole, Cargill, Dickenson, Harley.
Booked: Williams, Brittain, Lewington, Kasumu, Moore-Taylor, Gilbey
Coventry City: Marosi, Rose, Hiwula (Kastaneer 70), Hyam, O’Hare, Walsh, Bakayoko (Biamou 62), Dabo, Westbrooke, Shipley (c), McCallum.
Unused subs: Wilson, Watson, Mason, McFadzean, Kelly.
Referee: J Busby
Attendance: 13,621 (6,274 away)