Paris Maghoma’s 90th-minute goal earned MK Dons a crucial point away at Lincoln City.
The Dons looked to be heading for defeat at the LNER Stadium following Danny Mandriou’s fifth-minute strike but Maghoma flicked home from a corner in the final minute of regulation time to make it 1-1.
Mark Jackson’s men remain in the bottom four despite the result, though they do move to within a point of safety heading into their trip to Port Vale at the weekend.
Daniel Harvie returned to the starting XI as Jackson made two changes from the side which faced Ipswich Town at Stadium MK. Ethan Robson also came in for his first start since the reverse fixture with the Imps, as Henry Lawrence and Dawson Devoy made way.
The Dons made a confident start but were undone in spectacular fashion by MANDRIOU, who broke the deadlock in the fifth minute with an excellent long-range curling effort – the game’s first shot on goal. 1-0.
Lincoln’s Harry Boyes saw an ambitious attempt to double the lead fly wide of the post shortly after the re-start. Former Don Regan Poole later dragged a right-footed shot well wide of the target from inside the area.
Jackson’s men, although in control of the possession, were finding it difficult to create anything against a stubborn Imps defence – one which had allowed the second-fewest number of goals on their own patch amongst League One clubs.
Jack Tucker attempted a long pass over the top for Leko with 25 minutes on the clock but it just skipped away from the winger and through to goalkeeper, Carl Rushworth. Shortly after, Cumming did the same for Eisa, who was flagged offside.
The Dons worked their way into the penalty area on 41 minutes and it led to half-hearted appeals for a penalty, following a challenge on Eisa – one waved away by the referee.
That was the closest Jackson’s team came to levelling the scores before the interval. They returned for the second half, unchanged, eager to improve on their showing in the first 45 and Robson was almost able to latch onto an early ball into the area from Josh McEachran.
The Dons thought they had levelled on 57 minutes when Eisa got his head to Leko’s clipped cross. The header was on target and appeared to be heading in until it was cleared off the line by Paudie O’Connor.
Jackson went to his bench soon after, with Devoy and Nathan Holland taking the places of Robson and McEachran. His side then saw Jack Diamond go close for the hosts – his strike was deflected over by the body of Harvie.
With 66 minutes played, Leko found Sullay Kaikai in space on the right-hand side. Kaikai took a touch before delivering a low ball in towards Eisa, though it was well-read by Rushworth, who intercepted.
That was Eisa’s final involvement as he was soon replaced by Will Grigg in attack. His impact was almost felt within a few minutes but his deft flick from Kaikai’s cross was brilliantly kept out by Rushworth, diving to his right. Grigg’s chance came moments after Tucker had hooked off the line from Boyes’ touch towards goal.
With the 75-minute mark approaching, the Dons were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Devoy, five yards from the edge of the D. Leko took charge of the set-piece and saw his effort glance the top of the net on its way over.
The Dons continued to press for a leveller and they got behind the Lincoln defence again soon after courtesy of a clipped pass over the top from Devoy. Kaikai was the target but he wasn’t able to connect with his volleyed attempt.
Diamond blazed over as the Imps offered a reminder of their threat on 78 minutes. At the other end, Jules had a header saved by Rushworth from Kaikai’s in-swinging corner.
The Dons then worked a chance for Leko, following some good play between Holland and Grigg down the left, but he wasn’t able to get a shot away inside the area. Leko did, though, force Rushworth into a low save from a low effort less than a minute later.
Rushworth’s opposite number, Cumming, produced a fingertip save to prevent another long-range strike from Mandriou finding the net with three minutes left to play. That save proved crucial as shortly after, the Dons drew level.
It came courtesy of a Holland corner in the final minute of the 90 – the substitute’s delivery fell right onto the boot of MAGHOMA, who guided the ball over Rushworth and into the back of the net. 1-1.
Maghoma earned the Dons one final chance to complete an almighty comeback when he earned a free-kick in the closing stages, following a direct run forward. Johnson took the free-kick but was just off target with his low effort. The whistle blew moments later.
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson, Tucker, McEachran (Devoy 58), Robson (Holland 58), Eisa (Grigg 68), Leko, Harvie, Kaikai Johnson (90+4), Jules, Maghoma.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Smith, Lawrence
Goal: Maghoma (90)
Booked: Jules, Leko
Lincoln City: Rushworth, Poole, Boyes, Plange (House 68), Bishop (Sanders 80), Erhahon, O’Connor, Mandriou, Eyoma (Sorensen 49), Roughan, Diamond (Shodipo 80).
Subs: Wright, Vernam.
Goal: Mandriou (6)
Referee: S Stockbridge
Attendance: 7,056 (186 away)