MK Dons 1 Coventry City 3
MK Dons surrendered a one-goal lead at home to Coventry City on Saturday afternoon, as Karl Robinson's side fell to their third straight League defeat.
Despite taking the lead courtesy of a Shaun Williams penalty, a spirited Dons side were beaten by second half goals from the Sky Blues' loan duo of Chris Dagnall and Chris Maguire; the latter scoring twice from a pair of set-pieces.
Dons boss Robinson handed winger Dale Jennings his MK Dons debut just two days after the Barnsley winger joined the Club on a month’s loan. Jennings took up a place on the right-hand side of an attacking trio which also included Daniel Powell, who was dropped to the bench in mid-week.
And it was Powell who had the game’s first shot in the third minute, after some good work from Jennings down the left flank.
The newest Don won the ball for Stephen Gleeson, who switched it across to Powell but the winger guided his shot high over Joe Murphy’s goal.
Powell was then presented with an even better chance three minutes later but this time the 22-year-old was thwarted by Sky Blues’ keeper Murphy.
Powell was played through brilliantly by Ben Reeves; however his right-footed shot was blocked by the leg of Irishman.
Having conceded six goals in their last two League outings, the Dons came into the game keen to hold the prolific Sky Blues to a blank and their game plan of not allowing their visitors a touch on the ball appeared to be working, with Pressley’s side failing to even record a shot off target in the opening exchanges.
In fact, it took until the 26th minute for Coventry to finally have an effort on goal - Carl Baker’s central free-kick which, in the end, was well blocked and then cleared by the five-man Dons wall.
Soon after, the Dons had a set-piece of their own but Shaun Williams, on his 100th League appearance for the Club, was also denied by a disciplined Coventry barricade. Williams’ fellow Irishman Gleeson did follow up the loose ball, however his curling effort went wide.
The Sky Blues appeared to grow into the match as the half grew on and if not for some brave defending from skipper Dean Lewington deep inside the box, Callum Wilson’s shot may have crept into the far post.
The Dons’ own in-form striker, Bamford, would then have an even better chance after some more good play from Jennings and Lewington down the left but the Chelsea loanee, unmarked at the far post, headed over the bar.
Having dominated their visitors for large parts of the half it was vital, given the way recent games have gone, the Dons took advantage and drew first blood and two minutes into stoppage time they were presented with the opportunity to do just that – and they duly obliged.
Another well-worked move resulted in Reeves’ being nudged to the floor inside the Coventry box and Williams marked his career milestone with another superb penalty, which silenced the thousands of visiting fans behind the net.
With a big 45 ahead of them, the Dons started the second half reasonably bright but were almost pegged back two minutes in courtesy of a superb effort from John Fleck.
Coventry’s busy midfielder was given far too much room on the edge of the box and was only denied a brilliant equaliser by a strong save from McLoughlin.
Fleck’s chance led to a ten-minute spell of constant pressure from the Sky Blues who, like the Dons, came into this weekend having lost their last two League outings.
The men from MK1, though, were holding firm and the closest Coventry next came to an early leveller was from a Baker free-kick, which was curled well wide of McLoughlin’s left-hand upright, and a fierce strike into the side netting from the same man two minutes later.
Eventually, after a couple more half-chances from City, their pressure finally told when on 65 minutes, Chris Dagnall’s deflected effort brought the visitors level. The former Rochdale man, brought in on loan by Coventry on Thursday’s Deadline Day, tried an ambitious right-footed effort, which took a deflection off of a Dons man and looped over a stranded McLoughlin into the net.
Dagnall’s goal was a cruel blow for the Dons, who had more than deserved their lead even despite the visitor’s pressure at the beginning of the second half. They refused to let their heads drop, though, and two minutes later they went within inches of taking the lead once again.
Jennings, who was having a fine afternoon out wide for his new club, managed to shrug off his marker inside the Coventry box but just wasn’t able to turn Reeves’ teasing ball into the net from close-range.
As the game drew to its conclusion, it was Coventry who looked the more likely to grab a winner and they almost did so courtesy of the right foot of Jordan Spence. A dangerous ball into the box from the Sky Blues was inadvertently turned goalwards by the loanee but fortunately McLoughlin was on his toes and was able to pull of a brilliant diving stop.
McLoughlin, though, was eventually beaten for a second time, with just three minutes remaining, courtesy of a fine strike from Chris Maguire. After Bamford had been adjudged to have committed a foul 25-yards from goal, the Sheffield Wednesday loanee stepped up and curled a cracking strike around the wall and into into the bottom corner.
A Coventry goal was far from what the Dons deserved after their spirited performance but any hopes of a dramatic comeback were blown away when Maguire fired home his second of the afternoon, again from a free-kick - this strike topping his previous effort.
The Dons, despite the fact they were heading for their third straight defeat, continued to search for a consolation and Bamford was denied one deep into stoppage time by a flying Murphy.
The result sees the Dons slip to 12th in Sky Bet League 1; nine points adrift of the play-off places.
MK Dons: McLoughlin; Hodson, Spence, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Powell (Smith 76), Reeves, Jennings (Alli 72); Bamford.
Subs not used: Burns (GK), Flanagan, Baldock, Banton, Carruthers.
Goal: Williams (pen) 45+2
Booked: Gleeson, Potter
Sent off: None
Coventry City: Murphy, Seaborne, Christie, Fleck, Baker (c) (Maguire 64), Adams, Thomas, Dagnall, Clarke, Wilson, Moussa.
Subs not used: Burge (GK), Webster, Haynes, Phillips, Garner, Maund.
Goals: Dagnall 66, Maguire 86, 90
Booked: Wilson, Maguire
Sent off: None
Attendance: 14,948 (6,781)
Goal-Don Treble Chance HT results: 14-13-07-11