MK Dons came from behind to draw 1-1 with Notts County in an engrossing encounter at stadiummk.
Jay O’Shea rescued a spoil of the points for the Dons, but could not prevent the Magpies from breaking a 41-year club record of 11 games without tasting defeat on the road.
Neal Bishop fired the visitors into a first-half lead in fine style with a superb strike as Notts County dominated large periods of the opening 45 minutes. The Dons though, had more intent about them in the second half and O’Shea found the much-deserved equaliser for the Dons.
Karl Robinson made two changes as Charlie MacDonald’s goal scoring exploits against Yeovil Town saw him take the role as lone striker, while Antony Kay moved into defence which resulted in Shaun Williams pushing up as the support striker and Luke Chadwick drifting to the left of midfield.
The re-shuffle came as the Dons plotted to end County’s superb run of 10-games without defeat on the road.
In the early phases the Dons sprayed the ball around nicely without showing any real bite in the opening 10 minutes. County however, were quick to show the threat they possessed when former Wimbledon loanee Jamal Campbell-Ryce picked up the ball on the right of midfield and flashed a fine low drive through the bodies in his way, but David Martin dived low to palm the effort around the post.
Then it was the Dons’ turn to threaten in front of goal when Darren Potter cut open the Magpies’ defence with a fine through ball for MacDonald, but the striker overran it and as Bartosz Biakowski smothered at his feet MacDonald managed to dig the ball out to Daniel Powell. Unfortunately for the Dons winger, the County defence also recovered and quickly cleared from his feet.
Williams, a natural midfielder who has proven to be an excellent defender too, scored nine goals last season for the Dons and occupying a more attacking role for the evening he would have been keen to open his account for the 12/13 campaign. However, the Irishman was perhaps a little too keen as he fired a loose shot over the bar from 25-yards.
At the opposite end a foul by Potter gifted the visitors a chance to test Martin with a free-kick from 25-yards out. Alan Judge stood over the ball and curled an excellent strike over the wall but, despite looking destined for the top corner, Martin got a touch on the ball but was unable to keep hold of it, eventually conceding a corner.
The Dons never fully recovered as County saw a penalty appeal turned down before the ball found Bishop some 10-yards outside the box. Given far too much room, Bishop glanced up as he hit a thunderous shot into the bottom corner to fire County into the lead.
In response the Dons had a short-period of pressure with corner after corner, after corner in the favour but with no reward.
County why they had held an early-season lead in League 1 as they disrupted the flow of the usually-smooth running Dons midfield.
When presented the chance, Jon Ostemobor pushed forward to add some support to the home side’s attack. The right-back slid a fine ball to MacDonald who saw his shot blocked, but there was still hope for the Dons as the loose ball fell at the feet of Powell, only for a heavy first touch to end the attack.
Instead it was the visitors who moved ever-closer to finding the next goal when yet another Judge free-kick forced a great punch clear from Martin moments before the break.
The Dons came out of the trap after the break in lively fashion and with barely a minute on the clock Williams had a thunderous long-range shot tipped over the bar by Bialkowski.
After 54 minutes Robinson opted for a change in personnel with Jay O’Shea taking the place of Kay, meaning Williams dropped back into defence alongside Gary MacKenzie.
The Dons had to be patient as they to play their usual style and break down the County defence. However, by committing men forward they left themselves open to the counter-attack and when Yoann Arquin
powered his header from Campbell-Ryce’s cross it was a moment’s relief for the hosts.
With little luck cracking the Magpies backline Robinson introduced birthday boy Ryan Lowe, to take his place alongside MacDonald up front.
However, it was earlier substitute O’Shea who managed to pierce the Magpies defence in the 69th minute. Some excellent build-up play between Lowe and MacDonald stretched the County rear-guard, allowing O’Shea to ghost into the left of the box.
Lowe unselfishly threaded the ball through to O’Shea and the winger tucked the ball beyond the desperate reach of Bialkowski.
The goal put the wind in the Dons’ sails which prompted County boss Keith Curle to bring impact-striker Lee Hughes.
Potter had a glorious chance to send the Dons into the lead when the ball was put on a plate for him just outside the box, but the midfielder launched his effort over the bar. Soon after Dean Lewington advanced into the County box, but saw a fierce shot well-blocked.
It was always going to be a bruising contest between the two sides, but after 90 minutes and four more of added time, a point a piece was perhaps a fair reflection on the game.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Otsemobor, MacKenzie, Kay (O’Shea 54), Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Powell, Williams, Chadwick (Lowe 64); MacDonald (Smith 81).
Subs: McLoughlin, Bowditch, Chicksen, Bullard.
Booked: Lewington, Potter
Goal: O’Shea 68
Notts County: Bialkowski, Kelly, Bishop (c), Leacock, Liddle, Judge, Zoko (L Hughes 78), Arquin (Showunmi 87), Labadie, Campbell-Ryce (G Hughes 65), Regan.
Subs: Bencherif, Spiess, Wholey, Hollis.
Goal: Bishop 21
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne and Wear)
Attendance: 7,121 (650 away)
Goal-Don Goal time: 1st goal – 20.59; 2nd goal – 67.49