MK Dons played out a 1-1 draw with Oxford United at Stadium MK after Sullay Kaikai’s first-half goal was cancelled out by an excellent strike from Lewis Bate.
Kaikai gave the Dons a deserved half-time lead with his first goal since arriving at the Club in January but Karl Robinson’s Oxford earned themselves a share of the spoils courtesy of a much-improved second-half showing and a terrific goal from Bate, 20 minutes from time.
The result sees the Dons drop a place in the Sky Bet League One table, down to 20th. Crucially, though, they remain a point above the bottom four.
Jackson named an unchanged starting XI and substitutes bench from last weekend's victory over Bristol Rovers, with Daniel Harvie making his 100th start for the Club at left-back.
Oxford threatened first with a teasing cross in from the left which was claimed by Jamie Cumming. The MK Dons goalkeeper then started a counterattack, one that led to a chance for Jonathan Leko, who fired over from a tight angle.
The Dons worked their way into the Oxford penalty area soon after but weren’t able to fashion a chance on goal. Devoy then picked out Mo Eisa on the edge of the U’s box but, being forced off balance by a defender, he failed to hit the target with a right-footed strike.
Eisa was the target of Tennai Watson’s cross with a quarter of an hour played but the delivery in from the right was out of the striker’s reach as he burst in at the far post. The same went for Paris Maghoma’s lofted ball over to Eisa just a few minutes later, following some good work in the build-up by Harvie and Sullay Kaikai.
Oxford had their first shot on goal with 17 minutes on the clock – a low drive from Tyler Brown which produced a comfortable save out of Cumming in the centre of his goal. His opposite number was then forced into a stop by Leko, after he had cut in from the right wing and drilled one towards goal, left-footed.
Kaikai threatened midway through the first half, taking his man on down the left before firing a teasing a ball across the face of goal. All it needed was a touch but there wasn’t a teammate able to get on the end of it.
Moments later, the January signing was in possession of the ball again and this time he decided to go for goal himself – much to his and the Dons’ reward.
Collecting Eisa’s pass after a quick and neat move forward by Jackson’s men, KAIKAI moved inside from the flank and saw the opportunity present itself for him to send the ball through a crowded area and into the bottom right-hand corner of Simon Eastwood’s net. An excellent finish to claim his first goal in an MK Dons shirt. 1-0.
He tried his luck at a second just before the half-hour but the attempt on goal was blocked. This came shortly after a loose touch from Cumming almost saw the ball race under him and across his goalline – fortunately, he was able to recover.
The Dons should have been two goals in front on 35 minutes but weren’t able to take advantage of a break into the box. Watson was the man well placed inside the area but, rather than go for goal, instead teed up Eisa who was caught by surprise and was unable to direct his first-time effort on target.
Eisa had another sniff a minute later, after Harvie had won possession inside the Oxford half. Harvie crossed for the striker who was eventually able to get a shot away but this attempt was blocked.
Looking to punish the Dons, Oxford came forward and threatened goal with a long-range strike from Brannagan, which sailed well wide. The Dons were then forced to deal with a teasing corner delivery, with Harvie the man able to clear lines.
With a minute remaining in the first half, Watson got himself in the way of Ateef Konate’s shot. Jackson’s men were, though, able to get through until the break with their lead intact.
Oxford were the first team, in the second half, to work themselves into the opposing penalty area but Cumming was alert to intercept and claim. The Dons then went close through Eisa who did well, dealing with a sticky surface, to get the ball out from under his feet and shoot, only for Eastwood to come up with a strong save.
The U’s went back on the attack and saw Brannagan’s 20-yard drive blocked by Watson. Leko then produced an excellent tackle inside his own box to deny Konate, before Cumming came up with a terrific reaction save to keep out Brown’s effort from the resulting corner. Bate then blazed over from the partially cleared corner which followed.
With a quarter of an hour played in the second half, Harvie tried his luck from range after he was afforded space 10 yards from the edge of the penalty area. He, though, dragged his left-footed shot wide of the target.
Jackson went to his bench for the first time with 66 minutes on the clock, introducing Bradley Johnson and Max Dean in place of McEachran and Leko. Johnson was involved right away, throwing himself into some big, important tackles in the centre of the park.
The Dons, though, would surrender their lead with 20 minutes remaining, with Oxford’s BATE managing to beat Cumming with a fiercely-struck effort from the edge of the D – the MK Dons goalkeeper got a hand to the shot but wasn’t able to keep it out. 1-1.
Oxford almost took the lead within two minutes of the re-start but Wildschut could only lift his shot over Cumming’s bar and onto the roof of the net. Before the goal-kick, Henry Lawrence came on to replace Watson at right-back.
From a long throw, Wildschut forced Cumming into another reaction save. The MK Dons number one was also called into action by Joseph, though this one produced a much simpler stop.
Conor Grant and Will Grigg were Jackson’s final changes, coming on in place of Maghoma and Eisa with nine minutes left to play. They watched on with hears in their mouths as Wildschut broke through on goal two minutes later but fortunately for them, and the Dons, he dragged his effort just past the post.
They almost went behind in controversial circumstances with 85 minutes played when referee Andrew Kitchen allowed play to continue after a clear foul on Kaikai. Oxford broke forward in numbers but Cumming did just about enough to put Joseph off and he wasn’t able to find the target.
It was Oxford who were looking the more likely to grab a late winner and had a free-kick opportunity two minutes into stoppage time, though Cumming did well to go up and claim Fleming’s cross into the box.
The Dons had the final push forward but they weren’t able to find the net from two Dean crosses, in the end settling for a point which keeps them above the bottom four in Sky Bet League One.
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson (Lawrence 76), Tucker, McEachran (Johnson 66), Eisa (Grigg 81), Leko (Dean 66), Harvie, Kaikai, Devoy, Jules, Maghoma (Grant 81)
Subs: Ravizzoli, Grigg, Grant, Burns, Lawrence.
Goal: Kaikai (25)
Oxford United: Eastwood, Long, Fleming, Brannagan, Bate, Brown, Smith (Goodrham 61), Konate (Wildschut 61), Joseph (Baldock 88) Murphy (McGuane 46), Anderson
Subs: McGinty, Findlay, Henry
Goal: Bate (70)
Booked: Fleming, Brannagan
Referee: A Kitchen
Attendance: 9,116 (2,112 away)