MK Dons 1 Bury 1
Struggling Bury came from behind at stadiummk to clinch a 1-1 draw against MK Dons.
Dean Bowditch fired the Dons into the lead early in the first half with a fine individual effort, which took his tally against Bury to four this season, but the hosts failed to capitalise on the momentum.
Bury were strong at the back and organised across the pitch and while they sat deep with men behind the ball they were also quick to get bodies forward especially for set-pieces.
Ultimately though, it was a finely steered volley from Bury captain Steven Schumacher which denied the Dons all three points and earned a vital point for the Greater Manchester outfit.
Izale McLeod was handed a start in his second ‘debut’ for MK Dons while Dean Lewington made his 400th League start. McLeod took the role as the lead striker while Ryan Lowe dropped into the hole in a new-look strike force.
Bury set up to match the Dons by packing bodies into midfield in a hope to frustrate the home side’s fluid attacking football. It was a slow burning start to the first League game at stadiummk of 2013 but it was the visitors who had the first sniff of goal when the physical strength of Lenell John-Lewis tested the slight Shaun Williams and, despite their being a hint of a handball in the build up, the forward was able to turn in the area but Williams intervened with a strong block.
Moments later John-Lewis proved to be a handful once more and on this occasion the block of Antony Kay diverted the shot out for a corner.
However the Dons, despite failing to cause the Shakers too many problems in the opening 10 minutes, were fired in front with 14 minutes on the clock when Bowditch went on a fine mazy run, drifting in from the left to a central position, before curling his shot under the body of Trevor Carson.
Four minutes later Bowditch, this time tucked tighter to the left byline, produced another swerving effort which stung the palms of the Bury goalie.
It’s was the Dons’ man between the sticks who was in the thick of the action at the other end of the pitch when John-Lewis tangled with David Martin and the referee awarded a free-kick to the home side, when the visitors believed they should have been given a penalty.
Dons’ defence was living dangerously as they struggled to deal with Bury’s meticulously planned set-pieces, with a fine diving head from Tom Hopper flying inches wide from Joe Skarz’s corner.
While Bury may have made the trip to stadiummk struggling in the relegation zone they showed bags of fighting spirit and continued to force the Dons on the back foot.
Sooner or later though the Shakers had to make the most of their opportunities or they would be forced to regret it against a strong counter-attacking side. Another corner from Skarz was headed on by Ethan Ebanks-Landell for Efe Sodje to flick-on, but Martin denied the towering defender with a superb tip over the post.
The battle between Sodje and McLeod was the most intriguing head-to-head on the pitch as the Dons striker went toe-to-toe with the centre-back.
As the Dons knocked on the door with constant pressure they lacked a bite in the final third, but Adam Chicksen did his best to inject a spark with a delightful long-range left-footed strike from the right flank.
As half-time approached McLeod must have thought he had re-opened his account when the ball fell to him and his half-volley from the edge of the box looked destined for the top corner only for a deflection to steer it off target.
Upon the re-start the expectation on McLeod showed no signs of easing as the ball was played into the box but with the ball stuck under his feet the strike struggled to get the shot out but when he did it dragged inches wide.
With only a goal to separate the two sides the game remained dangerously in the balance. McLeod continued to battle with Sodje for space to shoot and the Dons still looked like the only side who would score.
However, in the blink of an eye Shakers skipper Schumacher turned the game on its head when Bury broke down the other end and a spectacular volley from the Bury midfielder pulled the visitors back on level terms.
It was always the danger the Dons had faced and the side needed more urgency if they were to get their noses back in front.
Powell showed some great footwork down the right wing to get beyond Skarz and deliver a low cross. The on-running Bowditch arrived a split second too late and McLeod scuffed his shot, which proved to be a great opportunity for the side to regain the lead.
The game had opened up and Bury were then left to wonder how they had failed to take the lead when a one-on-one opportunity saw John-Lewis blast wide.
With just over 10 minutes remaining Robinson noted a change was needed to add a new spark and hopefully deliver a winner so introduced Alan Smith and Zeli Ismail in place of McLeod and Powell.
Immediately Ismail broke down the wing and showed his trickery to win a corner, but little came from the set-piece.
It was left to be a frustrating afternoon at the office for the Dons as they let two points slip away.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Chicksen, Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Harley; Powell (Ismail 79), Lowe, Bowditch; McLeod (Smith 79).
Subs not used: Otsemobor, Kouo-Doumbe, MacKenzie, Alli, Rasulo.
Booked: Powell, Bowditch
Goal: Bowditch 15
Bury: Carson, Skarz, Worrall, Schumacher (c), John-Lewis, Sodje, Hughes, Hopper (Jones 54), Thompson, Ebanks-Landell, Soares (Carrington90).
Subs not used: Dibble (GK), Wylde.
Goal: Schumacher 66
Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)
Goal-Don Goal times: 1st goal – 14.03; 2nd goal – 65.24