Report: MK Dons 2 Portsmouth 2
MK Dons came from two goals behind at home to Portsmouth to rescue a point in a pulsating 2-2 draw.
It was a thrilling end-to-end game at stadiummk which saw a missed penalty in the opening two minutes and four goals but nothing could separate the sides over 90 minutes.
The Dons were in trouble in the opening phases when formed striker, and still the Dons’ highest ever goal scorer, Izale McLeod fired Pompey into the lead just moments after visiting skipper Brian Howard missed a penalty.
Gabor Gyepes then doubled the lead for the 2008 FA Cup winners in the 20th minute but an own goal from Adam Webster breathed life into the Dons’ hopes of recovery. After bossing the second half Darren Potter eventually managed to net the leveller, but the Dons would ultimately have been disappointed with a point at home despite fighting back from two-goals down.
For the first time this season the Dons named an unchanged starting XI as they played host to Pompey in the first meeting between the two sides.
Robinson though, was unable to name a complete bench as Ryan Lowe missed out through illness and Gary MacKenzie remains sidelined as he returns to fitness following a groin injury.
There was an explosive start at stadiummk as Dean Bowditch called Mikkel Andersen into action inside the opening two minutes, but his header on to Jon Otsemobor’s cross was too tame to truly trouble the Pompey goalie.
However, it was Dons’ ‘keeper David Martin who was thrown into the thick of the action at the opposite end when Shaun Williams’ poor back pass was snapped up by McLeod who tempted Martin of his line and was sent tumbling under the goalie’s arms.
Pompey skipper Brian Howard stepped up for the spot-kick but he lacked the composure he needed as he directed his effort against the upright. Instantaneously the Dons set off on the counter-attack, but they lost the ball in the middle of the pitch and McLeod beat the offside trap to find his way into the Dons’ box once more.
On this occasion he took a quick glance before firing a fine strike into the back of the net. McLeod decided not to celebrate in front of the Cowshed, going against the norm of years gone by.
The Dons had been stunned by the fine start Pompey made and Williams flirted with danger only moments after McLeod’s opener when he tangled with Wes Thomas, but referee David Coote waved away their second penalty claims.
The home side steadily found their feet; Daniel Powell weaved his way down the right only to see his cross blocked by Johnny Ertl before reaching Charlie MacDonald. The striker was found soon after by a fine Dean Lewington cross, but MacDonald’s shot rises over.
Robinson’s men had dominated the play after falling behind, yet they were undone by an all-too-easy set-piece from Portsmouth. After winning a free-kick on the right touchline Howard played a deep delivery in for Gyepes to head home.
The Dons had a task they had not faced in 10 League games; to overcome a two-goal deficit but the lively Pompey were always going to make it difficult for the Dons. MacDonald was enduring a frustrating time with the Portsmouth back four; as he found space in the area he dragged a shot wide.
The visitors were fast on the break and always looked capable of breaching the Dons’ defence and McLeod did just that as he latched onto a through ball by Thomas. Otsemobor quickly tracked back though and managed to get his body in front of the striker and in turn he was able to get the touch needed to take the ball out of the path of McLeod.
With half-an-hour on the clock gone Robinson decided a change of tactics was needed to get back into proceedings so Otsemobor was sacrificed as the Dons went to three at the back, to bring on Alan Smith and adopt a new 3-2-3-2 formation.
It appeared to give the Dons more freedom at front and as a result Bowditch saw more of the ball as he fired a shot into Andersen’s arms and then rolled the ball from the byline, but Smith’s backheel was cleared for a corner.
The Dons had caught Pompey in a spin; their defence was unsettled and struggling to cope with the array of attacking players. They failed to clear a Dons corner and when the ball was crossed back in Webster was unfortunate as he turned the ball into his own net, but it was the slice of luck the Dons needed and was the potential injection to get them firing again.
A big second half performance was needed from the Dons, so often before they have burst out of the blocks after the break but Pompey refused to allow them to do so.
They would have to be patient with their play and take their chances when they came. The Dons flooded the Pompey box yet Chadwick, with the ball on the right, chose the smart option as he chipped a cross to Bowditch, evading everyone else in the process. Unfortunately though, Bowditch struck with too much power as his shot lifted over the bar.
Darren Potter then found himself in acres of room and opted to pull the trigger, and he also saw his shot rise over.
Portsmouth had barely seen the ball as the Dons kept up their hunt for an equaliser. The Dons’ midfield tried to get the team clicking as Stephen Gleeson broke forward to find Powell on the right of the
Pompey box. As the winger passed to MacDonald the striker’s attempt to roll the ball into the net was deflected to Chadwick, whose tumbled effort was cleared on the line.
The number of head in hands rose significantly in the 62nd minute when Bowditch whipped in a superb cross only for MacDonald, throwing his body in the direction of the ball, to fail to get his head on the end of the delivery and Powell also couldn’t connect with his outstretched foot.
The Dons were bar far the more dominant side, as they played high up the pitch yet it was the final third which continued to be a frustration for Robinson’s men.
With only three at the back they were always in danger of being hit on the break and when Williamson found Thomas, the Pompey striker danced through the Dons defence but inexplicably blasted wide.
There were 20 minutes remaining on the clock when Bowditch drifted from the right through to a central position and saw a low drilled effort deflected wide. Bowditch did soon play his part in the equaliser for the Dons when his corner was headed onto the underside of the bar bur Potter was in the right place at the right time to bury the ball into the roof of the net.
Michael Appleton made a double substitution as he looked to see his side play out the draw in Milton Keynes. The introduction of Akos Buzsaky, on loan from QPR, did however bring a threat in front of goal, something the Dons discovered seven minutes from time when unleashed a fierce curling shot which went just wide.
The play had been frantic throughout and there was no sign of that changing in the four minutes of added time, but ultimately it wasn’t enough for either side to force a winner.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Otsemobor (Smith 33), Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Powell, Chadwick, Bowditch; MacDonald (Allan 69).
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Kouo-Doumbe, Chicksen, O’Shea.
Goals: Webster O.G 40, Potter 72
Portsmouth (4-4-2): Andersen; Dumbuya, Michalik, Gyepes, Webster; Williamson, Howard (c) (Buzsaky 81), Ertl, Harley; Thomas (Obita 81), McLeod.
Subs not used: Eastwood, Walker, Rodgers, Compton, Harris.
Goals: McLeod 4, Gyepes 20
Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)
Goal-Don Goal times: 1st goal – 03.28; 2nd goal - 19.05; 3rd goal – 39.08; 4th goal 71.53