Brentford 3 MK Dons 2
Clayton Donaldson’s injury time winner ended MK Dons’ unbeaten run of nine games as Brentford twice came from behind seal a dramatic 3-2 win at Griffin Park.
The Dons lead on two occasions thanks to Ryan Lowe and Stephen Gleeson, yet Brentford showed the fighting spirit which has earned them the best home record in League 1 this season as Clayton Donaldson and Harry Forrester respectively responded to level up the scores.
In the same fixture last season the Dons surrendered a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 and Brentford’s come-back heroics were once again at a cost for the Dons who fell to sixth place in League 1.
Both sides boasted excellent records heading into the game and much was expected from the 90 minutes in West London and the match certainly did not disappoint in terms of entertainment value.
Robinson was forced into one change to the side which booked a place in the Third Round of the FA Cup last week with the injured Dean Bowditch missing from the matchday squad, which brought a first start for on loan Zeli Ismail.
Brentford were lively from the offset with Clayton Donaldson having a chance within two minutes of kick-off when he got the better of the Dons defence but David Martin was quick off his line to save at the feet of the Bees’ striker.
The early signs from the game against two in-form team hinted at another high-scoring frantic 90 minutes between the sides who shared a 3-3 draw in the same fixture last season.
Angelo Balanta, who suffered a horror injury on the same ground two years earlier, was sharp as he battled against Shaleum Logan to breeze into the box to turn a Ryan Lowe pass at Simon Moore. The
Brentford goalie parried the initial shot to Ismail, who was also denied.
Moments later Balanta played a part in another good move from the Dons when his ball over the top was knocked on by the Bees backline which played Luke Chadwick onside and the midfielder showed outrageous confidence as, with his back to goal, he sent an acrobatic effort goal-bound for Moore to push over the bar.
The biggest problem for the Dons was keeping the powerful and energetic Donaldson quiet. The big front man was a handful for Robinson’s backline and showed the danger he possessed as he riffled a shot just over Martin’s bar.
The pace was fast and frantic, which played into the hands of the Dons’ lightning quick full-back Otsemobor. The hero who scored the winner against AFC Wimbledon a week earlier picked up a sloppy pass from the Bees to race down the right flank before weaving inside to the edge of the box where he opted to pull the ball back to Stephen Gleeson.
Rather than taking the moment of glory, Gleeson played a smart through ball to Lowe who showed great composure as he stroked the ball into the bottom corner before wheeling off to celebrate his goal in front of the travelling fans.
A feisty battle was breaking out between Ismail and Jake Bidwell as two strong challenges on each other resulted in both players finding their names in the referee’s book, but it was 18-year-old Ismail whose afternoon was cut short when Robinson noted potential danger for the side and opted to withdraw the youngster in place of Daniel Powell.
Donaldson added further to his list of chances in the entertaining match as he found space to get on the end of Jonathan Douglas’ pass to beat Dean Lewington and send an effort straight at Martin.
The Dons goalkeeper had been kept in the thick of the action by the Bees, but it was a cracking long-range shot from MK-born Harry Forrester which caused the biggest scare on the half-an-hour mark as it
had Martin beaten, but the upright denied the home side a leveller.
Brentford had the momentum in their favour and continued to hassle their visitors looking to force an equaliser. A free-kick from Douglas was well-saved by Martin, who was required once more for a follow-up in a crowded box before the linesman’s flag ruled out Marcello Trotta’s bundled home effort.
Two minutes before the break though Brentford finally cracked the Dons’ defence. Forrester moved through the Dons’ box almost unchallenged to cross for Donaldson to turn in with ease.
After a barnstorming 45 minutes it would have been easy for the tempo to drop in the second half, instead the fast-paced nature of the game continued with Lowe sending a shot over within minutes of the re-start before a vital block from Antony Kay denied Trotta from putting Brentford ahead.
It took a moment of great individual skill for the Dons to regain the lead when Chadwick played the ball to the feet of Gleeson who, with his back to goal, spun on a sixpence to pick out his spot on the bottom right-hand corner with the most clinical of strikes.
Brentford remained hungry to return to level scores with the Dons and quickly turned defence into attack as an Otsemobor throw-in resulted in the visitors backtracking before a stinging powerful drive from Douglas met the palms of an alert Martin.
The Bees were applying the pressure to the Dons, leaving Kay and Shaun Williams to swallow up any delivery played into the box. The home side were desperate to find an equaliser for the second time in the game and the Dons had to chase every ball down.
A foul by Otsemobor on Trotta presented the Bees with a free-kick from some 35-yards out, an initial shot by Trotta was blocked from close-range but Martin was helpless as Forrester, in the right place at the right time, smashed home a fierce follow-up to pull the Bees level once more.
With 13 minutes remaining Robinson threw caution to the wind by introducing Alan Smith and former Brentford forward Charlie MacDonald as the Dons aimed to gain a grip on proceedings.
Powell tried to muster up a response from the Dons as he picked up the ball from Smith to fire a fine 20-yard shot which was well-juggled by Moore. At the other end though Trotta came within inches of putting
Brentford in front as his header skimmed just wide of the left post.
The Dons were almost caught cold in the 85th minute when their free-kick in the Bees’ half was quickly turned into a counter-attack by Brentford as Forrester knocked the ball past Balanta and only had Martin to beat. However, Martin was brave and bold off his line doing enough to pile the pressure on the Bees star before denying his shot with an excellent left-handed stop.
Otsemobor was left to struggle through the final stages after appearing to pick up an injury, something the Bees were looking to exploit.
And there was a sting in the tail though, just as there was last year at Griffin Park, as Donaldson bagged his 12th of the season as he pounced on a parried Trotta shot to turn the ball in at the right post to seal a late, dramatic winner for the hosts.
Brentford: Moore, Forshaw (Reeves 77), Craig, Dean, Douglas, Donaldson, Logan, Forrester, Diagouraga (Kiernan 62), Trotta (Hodson 90), Bidwell.
Subs: Lee, Saunders, Dallas, Hodson, Hayes.
Goals: Donaldson 43, Forrester 71, Donaldson 90
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Otsemobor, Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Ismail (Powell 25), Chadwick (Smith 77), Balanta; Lowe (MacDonald 77).
Subs: McLoughlin, Kouo-Doumbe, Chicksen, Sekajja.
Booked: Ismail, Chadwick
Goals: Lowe 15, Gleeson 53
Referee: L Collins