A deflected Stephen Gleeson strike saw MK Dons and Coventry City play out a 1-1 draw at the Ricoh Arena.
The Sky Blues took the lead when a thumping Richard Wood header broke the Dons defence in the 34th minute, but the Dons hit back eight minutes later when Gleeson’s long-range shot took a wicked deflection and nestled into the net.
An entertaining contest throughout, a winner was there for the taking, at either end of the pitch. David Martin was called on to make a number of saves while the Dons’ clinical-edge in front of goal once again proved the difference in taking one point instead of three.
The Dons made two changes with Jon Otsemobor and Daniel Powell regaining their places in the starting line-up in place of Adam Chicksen and Jay O’Shea respectively, who took their place on the bench.
Coventry went into the game on a high having recorded their first win of the season at the weekend against Oldham. The Sky Blues popped the ball around nicely from kick-off and some good link-up play between Gary McSheffrey and Carl Baker allowed the latter to fire a half-volley at David Martin within the opening three minutes but the Dons goalkeeper was able to turn away at his near post.
The home side started brightly, putting the Dons under pressure with a smart free-kick from McSheffrey, which was pushed to his right where James Bailey was waiting. The ferocious shot that followed from Bailey was well blocked by Dean Lewington, but the resulting ball into the box from Coventry brought loud appeals for a penalty as the ball appeared to strike the hand of Antony Kay.
It was a fast start at the Ricoh Area, as the Dons managed to get to the other end of the pitch Charlie MacDonald was released through to goal and as he slipped the ball into the path of Luke Chadwick the Dons striker felt he had been blocked by goalie Joe Murphy. But as play continued the Sky Blues defence recovered and cleared their line.
Mark Robins’ message to his side must have been to get in the Dons’ faces from the outset, which is exactly what they did. The Dons’ midfield needed to slow the pace of the game down to stop the hosts dictating play, but the Sky Blues had the wind in their sails and when the tricky McSheffrey got the better of Kay it was left to Martin to produce another save.
Moments later, Baker once again attempted another half-volley as he controlled a cross from the left but once more fired over the bar.
Around the 15 minute mark the Dons managed to stamp their authority on the game as they began to out-pass their hosts, forcing Coventry to do the chasing for the first time in the match.
The Dons had found the control in the game, forcing the Sky Blues to sit back and defend as they sprayed the ball around. When Stephen Gleeson won the ball in midfield in a telling challenge it released the Dons on the attack.
The ball found the feet of Daniel Powell before being fed through to Chadwick who, in turn, played the ball into MacDonald, who was waiting potentially on the edge of the box. MacDonald, with his back to the defender, span on a sixpence but his fine shot fell inches wide.
Despite the Dons finding their rhythm, they were left undone by a McSheffrey corner. The set-piece from the right-hand side was whipped in at pace but it was the movement from Wood that allowed the defender to run unmarked to plant a thumping header beyond a rooted Martin.
It meant the Dons’ hard work to gain control of possession was all but wasted by a simple set piece. Robinson’s men tried to hit back immediately when Powell steamrolled through the right flank, but City stab the ball out for a corner, which came to little.
Dons did however, find themselves back on level terms three minutes before the break when Darren Potter’s free-kick was played backwards to draw open the City defence and when Gleeson drilled a low shot through the bodies a fortuitous defection steered the ball into the back of the net.
After clawing back the equaliser, the Dons galvanised after the break as they pushed on to try and take the lead on the game. First Bowditch had a powerful shot fall inches wide and then a poor cross from Powell evaded the on-running MacDonald, when a more weighted delivery would have surely be prodded home by the forward.
At the opposite end Franck Moussa got in the right position in the Dons’ box but could not prevent his header from falling over the bar.
The Dons’ composure in City’s area was the one aspect preventing them from taking a lead as they once again began to dominate possession and play. Bowditch danced his way from the left through to a more central position on the edge of the box, where Chadwick stepped in and found Potter.
The midfielder chipped a fine ball into the right of the box but an awkward first touch from Powell ended any chances of testing Murphy.
When a Sky Blues shirt made a wayward pass straight to the Dons, the home crowd quickly voiced their displeasure. Powell latched on to the ball and burst into the box to bring MacDonald into play, and the Dons striker tried to manoeuvre his way past Murphy in goal but in the end only managed toget the ball stuck under his feet. It was a moment when the Dons should have had City on the ropes; instead they
allowed their hosts the opportunity to recover.
The game became scrappy as both sides grew all the more impatient in the hunt for a winner.
There were still chances though, with City making all three of their substitutions they carried a fresher outlook as Jamie Reckford lifted an excellent ball into the box for Callum Best to nod on, but Martin was able to claim on the line.
As time began to tick away Dons introduced Alan Smith in hope of adding an extra dimension to their threat up front and Ryan Lowe was also a late addition for the Dons.
City had a late hope of the winner in the 90th when John Fleck was presented with a free-kick 20-yard out, yet the Sky Blues sub failed to even call on Martin as he lifted his shot well over the bar.
Coventry City (4-3-3): Murphy; Christie, Edjenguele (Cameron 69), Wood, Reckford; Barton (Ball 79), Bailey, Moussa; Baker, McGoldrick, McSheffrey (Fleck 69).
Subs not used: Dunn, Hussey, Willis, Henderson.
Goal: Wood 34
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Otsemobor, Williams, Kay, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Powell (Lowe 90), Chadwick (O’Shea 73), Bowditch; MacDonald (Smith 80).
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Kouo-Doumbe, Chicksen, Allan.
Goal: Gleeson 42
Attendance: 9,948 (697 away)