Bristol City 2 MK Dons 2
Striker Sam Baldock came back to haunt his former club in MK Dons' 2-2 with Bristol City on Saturday afternoon.
Shaun Williams and Ben Reeves had put Karl Robinson's side ahead after 36 minutes but a second-half brace from the former Dons striker saw the game finish all-square.
The result sees the Dons remain in 10th place in Sky Bet League 1 but, ultimately, it will go down as a frustrating afternoon for the men from MK1 and their manager Robinson, who celebrated his 200th game as a manager today.
The Dons boss, on his milestone day, made one change to his side with Everton loanee Chris Long returning to the starting XI in place of Luke Chadwick. Long, who was ineligible for The FA Cup with Budweiser tie against Wigan Athletic, lead the line up-front with Daniel Powell, who deputised in attack in Long’s absence, taking the place of Chadwick on the left wing.
It was Bristol City who would make the stronger start on their home turf and on two minutes the Sky Bet League 1 strugglers were presented with a glorious opportunity to take the lead.
Winger Scott Wagstaff was allowed and space to drive into the Dons box and after his shot was bravely saved by David Martin, the ball fell for Jay Emmanuel-Thomas whose first-time effort was well blocked by Antony Kay inside his own six-yard box.
The Robins would then have another chance to draw first blood just 60 seconds later through the Don's ex-number 10 Baldock, who somehow failed to find the net with his close-range header before he was then denied by the feet of Martin.
Looking to try and weather the storm, the Dons pushed forward with intent and winger Powell went close with a low shot which was saved well by Elliot Parish
And then, with 16 minutes on the clock, Robinson’s men took the lead through Shaun Williams’ first goal from open play all season. The defender, whose other nine strikes have come from either the penalty spot or free-kicks, was able to ghost in at the far post to meet Ben Reeves’ cross and find the bottom corner with the outside of his left foot.
The Robins, however, were not to be deterred and straight from the re-start they went close to an equaliser through Greg Cunningham but he opted to shoot straight at Martin instead of squaring across for a team-mate.
Martin was then called into action for the second time in quick succession when Baldock, not for the first time in the opening exchanges, beat the offside trap and bore down on goal only to be denied by the chest of the Dons’ number 1.
Baldock’s former team-mate and now opposing captain, Dean Lewington, also went close to a goal inside the opening half an hour, after Stephen Gleeson’s corner fell perfectly for him, but the left-back headed over from 8-yards.
Although the two sides were equal in terms of chances, it was the Dons were enjoying most of the possession and this was largely down to the side’s dominance in midfield and, in particular, the play of Aston Villa loanee Samir Carruthers.
And on 36 minutes, the 22-year-old created the Dons’ second goal with a superb pass through for his fellow midfielder, Ben Reeves, who took a touch before lifting a shot over a sliding Parish and into the top corner.
City, to their credit, did start the second half in a much more spirited fashion but the closest they came to a goal in the five minutes after the re-start was through a long-range Wagstaff effort which flew harmlessly over Martin’s crossbar.
Long, on only his second senior start, was able to test Parish for the first time on 53 minutes but, after turning Aden Flint brilliantly, the 18-year-old's poked shot was well-saved by the Robins 'keeper.
And just four minutes after that chance, the man who used to occupy the same lone striker's role for the Dons, Baldock, pulled a goal back for the hosts with a neat finish after a blocked defensive clearance fell straight to him inside the area.
With the game finally poised Robinson decided to introduce Dean Bowditch and Luke Chadwick as his side pushed for a third goal, and the duo went close to finding that important strike from a Reeves cross on 70 minutes. Firstly, Chadwick failed to connect with the ball before Bowditch looped the rebound onto the roof of the net.
But, on 76 minutes, that man Baldock levelled things up against the run of play; the 24-year-old striker in the right place at the right time to prod home from close-range after the Dons failed to deal with a corner.
Baldock's goal set up an interesting last 10 minutes at Ashton Gate, with both teams still eager to come away with all three points and in the 81st minute Bowditch had a glorious opportunity to put the Dons back in the driving seat only to slice his half volley wide of the post.
Williams was the last man to test Parish late-on, racing onto a loose ball before shooting fiercely towards goal. Parish was only able to parry the shot, at first, but he was able to gather in time to prevent Baldock from following-up.
Bristol City: Parish; Osborne (Williams 46), Flint, El-Abd; Wagstaff, Gillett, Reid (Burns 75), Pack, Cunningham; Emmanuel-Thomas (Barnett 75), Baldock.
Subs: Fielding (GK), Moloney, Bryan, Elliot.
Goals: Baldock 57, 76
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Hodson, Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Carruthers (Chadwick 69), Reeves (Baldock 86), Powell (Bowditch 57); Long.
Subs: McLoughlin (GK), Flanagan, Smith, McLeod, Baldock.
Goals: Williams 17, Reeves 36
Booked: Kay, Martin, Potter
Attendance: 11,533 (380 away)