MK Dons 0 Crawley Town 0
MK Dons were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Crawley Town as their play-off hopes stuttered at stadiummk.
In one of the most one-sided games at MK1, the Dons battled from the first minute to the last with continued pressure but they were unable to claim anything more than a point for their efforts.
Ryan Lowe had an incredible THREE goals ruled out for offside throughout the game and also had a close-range strike denied by a stunning save from Paul Jones in the first half.
Daniel Powell missed the chance of the match from just yards out while Dean Bowditch also saw efforts fall off target.
The draw leaves the Dons seven points off the play-offs with five games remaining.
There was one change to the side which beat Brentford on Easter Monday with Daniel Powell replacing Chris Lines, who dropped to the bench, and subsequently Patrick Bamford shifted into the middle of the attacking three behind lone striker Lowe.
The Dons, who had been forced to kick towards the Cowshed after losing the coin toss, were lively from the outset as they looked to make it three wins on the bounce. The hosts almost got off to the perfect start five minutes in when a Bamford free-kick was headed home by Lowe, but the forward had strayed off side in the process and it was duly chalked out.
Robinson’s men looked in cruise control throughout the early phases and when Bamford’s break down the left opened up a gaping space for Lowe he cut the ball back and the Liverpudlian watched his shot from the edge of the box fly just inches over.
There was only really one team in the game yet the Dons struggled to break the deadlock against a Crawley side who were there for the taking.
The Red Devils had Paul Joness to thank for a stunning save in the 28th minute to keep the game goalless. A break from the Dons allowed Jon Otsemobor to push forward into the box and whip in a great cross which Lowe struck first time at the near-post. To everyone in stadiummk it looked destined to hit the back of the net but an incredible world class save from Jones, which saw him tip the ball away with his right palm at the very last moment.
The chances kept coming for the Dons as Dean Bowditch was found in a central position and fired a shot wide from distance. With the Dons sending men forward they were left vulnerable at the back, which Crawley almost made the advantage of when Billy Clarke turned a shot straight at Ian McLoughlin before drilling wide moments later.
Youngster Bamford worked hard to drop deep to win the ball for the Dons and when he did just that on the byline by picking the ball off Dannie Bulman, it allowed the hosts to push forward once more. The ball eventually fell loose for Williams to direct a shot at Jones, which was parried as far as Lowe but when the striker hit the back of the net for a second time in the game the offside flag once again denied him.
The pressure continued from the Dons and they should have taken the lead just minutes before the break when a fine cross from Bowditch found Powell just two-yards out but somehow the winger turned the ball over, to leave the Dons wondering how they were not in the lead at half-time.
The interval proved to be an important time for Crawley as they re-gathered after the break as Bulman pulled the trigger from distance yet a Williams deflection took the ball wide. From the resulting corner McLoughlin was put under pressure but did well to punch away a Nick Adams inswinger.
At the other end, Jones was called back into action when a super strike from Williams looked to be finding its way into the top corner before the Reds’ keeper tipped the ball over the bar.
The greatest frustration for the Dons was their continuous dominance in the game but with nothing to show for it. The battle in midfield was scrappy and prevented the Dons from playing their free-flowing football in the final third.
Bowditch tried to find the moment of magic that the game needed as he cut inside from the left, riding a challenge in the process, in an attempt to score his third goal in as many games he curled the ball, yet it lacked the power needed to truly trouble Jones.
The Dons must have wondered what they had to do to break the deadlock as Lowe held the ball up well in the box for substitute Luke Chadwick who duly put his laces through the ball from six-yards but the shot was deflected wide by a resolute Crawley defence.
Five minutes before the break the Dons thought they had the winner when Lowe latched on to a great through ball to drag the ‘keeper out of the position but has he struck the back of the net the linesman’s flag denied him for a THIRD time in the match.
As time ticked away the Dons were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area which Bowditch curled agonisingly wide.
The Dons kept battling until the very end with a last minute corner bouncing around in the Crawley box but when Otsemobor’s shot was turned wide, the hosts had to settle for the point.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): McLoughlin; Otsemobor, Kouo-Doumbe, Williams, Chicksen; Potter, Gleeson (c); Powell (Chadwick 60), Bamford, Bowditch; Lowe.
Subs: Smith, Baldock, Lines, Chadwick, Rasulo.
Crawley Town (4-4-2): P Jones, Dumbuya, Sadler, Essam, Clarke, Torres, Walsh, Bulman (c), Adams (Connolly 90), M Jones (Hunt 90), Hayes (Proctor 71).
Subs: Maddison (GK), O'Brien, Elford-Alliyu.
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)
Attendance: 7,746 (390 away)