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Rotherham United 2 MK Dons 2

26 April 2014

Dean Lewington was denied a victory on his 500th MK Dons appearance after Rotherham United fought-back to earn a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Matthew Kennedy slotted home Ryan Hall's cross inside of nine minutes to put the Dons in-front at half-time before Izale McLeod doubled the advantage with a delicate chip over Adam Collin.

However, Rotherham would respond through Michael O'Connor and Alex Revell in the final ten minutes to prevent the men from MK1 from celebrating a victory on their final road trip of the 2013/14 season.

Dons boss Robinson was able to recall Dele Alli to the starting line-up for the trip to South Yorkshire and it was he, partnering Stephen Gleeson in the centre of midfield, who created the first opening of the match in the second minute but after driving into the Millers’ box his cut-back for Izale McLeod was blocked by Craig Morgan.

The Millers, assured of a Sky Bet League 1 play-off spot but still keen to secure third place, then responded through Lee Frecklington who, after being allowed space 25-yards from goal, shot just wide of David Martin’s left-hand upright.

Both sides had started brightly and it was the Dons who would have the next chance on goal, this time through Spence, but he failed to direct his header on target after being found by Gleeson from a corner.

Robinson’s men had failed to score first in seven of their last eight matches but in the ninth minute, they managed to find the all-important breakthrough goal with Matty Kennedy the man who applied the finishing touch from eight-yards after latching onto Ryan Hall’s fizzing cross from the right.

Clearly disappointed with conceding an early goal, the Millers pushed forward in the hope of finding an equaliser but the Dons defence were doing a fine job of restricting the home side to efforts from distance. 

In the 20th minute, Kari Arnason shot wide from the edge of the area before the impressive Ben Pringle saw his low effort blocked by the outstretched right leg of Brendan Galloway, starting his second successive game at left-back.

Kennedy, whose ninth minute strike was his first in professional football, then looked to turn provider as the Dons searched for a second but McLeod failed to trouble Adam Collin with an improvised volley from his cross.

The game was then halted for what appeared to be a serious-looking injury to George Baldock, who stayed down after a collision with Joe Skarz on the far side of the field. The right-back received treatment for over 10 minutes before being taken off the field on a stretcher and replaced by Tom Flanagan.

Just a few minutes after coming on, Flanagan was called into action and forced to stand strong in order to block James Tavernier’s drilled shot which the 22-year-old did fairly, despite some calls from the home support that suggested he used his arm.

Due to the lengthy-stoppage for Baldock’s injury, 11 minutes of added time was played at the end of the first-half but neither side were able to make it count; Rotherham striker Alex Revell going closest before the interval with a header from Tavernier’s cross which flew harmlessly wide of the post.

Robinson would have, no doubt, been pleased by his side’s showing in the first-half but just three minutes after the re-start they were dealt a blow when young Galloway, booked in the first half for a foul, was shown a second yellow card and dismissed for a tug-back on Pringle.

Now without two of his defenders and reduced to ten men, the Dons boss was forced to play midfielder Mark Randall at right-back but it was his new defensive partner Flanagan who prevented an equaliser in the 57nd minute with another brave block, this time from a Revell shot.

Dons ‘keeper Martin, who had been kept relatively quiet in the first-half, then came to the visitors’ rescue with an excellent close-range block to deny Adams before Michael O’Connor blasted over from 12-yards.

It was ‘back-to-the-wall’ stuff from Robinson’s men, who were defending valiantly and frustrating the Millers and their supporters. They even had a chance to double their lead in the 70th minute through substitute James Loveridge, brought on to replace Hall, but his right-footed effort was palmed away by Collin.

The Dons were then presented with another opportunity to extend their advantage in the 72nd minute and this time they made no mistake. Alli did excellently to win the ball out wide and pass through for McLeod, who cut inside his marker and delicately chipped the ball over Collin and into the centre of the net.

The Dons' two-goal lead, however, last just eight minutes as, with 80 on the clock, a cross from the right found its way to an unmarked O'Connor and he placed a shot past Martin to make it 2-1.

O'Connor's strike set up a nervy last ten minutes at New York Stadium with the Dons forced to camp deep inside their own half in order to prevent the hosts' using their man advantage.

In the 88th minute Flanagan denied Wes Thomas a chance on goal with an inch-perfect slide tackle before Loveridge, twice, produced saves out Collin with powerful efforts on the counter-attack.

Then, with just three minutes left in injury-time, the Dons' brave defensive work was undone when Rotherham's Revell climbed highest from a long throw-in to loop a header over Martin and beyond Lewington on the line.

Rotherham United: Collin, Tavernier, Arnason, Morgan (c), Skarz, Pringle, Frecklington (Hitchcock 79), O’Connor, Milsom (Adams 30 (Thomas 78)), Revell, Agard.

Subs not used: Shearer (GK), Brindley, Davis, Vuckic.

Goal: O'Connor 79, Revell 90

MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Baldock (Flanagan 41), Spence, Lewington (c), Galloway; Alli, Gleeson; Kennedy, Smith (Randall 50), Hall (Loveridge 67); McLeod.

Subs not used: Burns (GK), Rasulo.

Goal: Kennedy 9, McLeod 72

Booked: Alli, Galloway, Martin

Sent off: Galloway 49

Referee: G Salisbury

Attendance: 9,405 (347 away)

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