Report: MK Dons 1-2 Bradford City
Goals from Aaron Mclean and Billy Clarke put the visitors in control after 26 minutes, but a goal from captain Dean Lewington just before the break gave the men from MK1 hope.
Despite spending the majority of the second period in the visitors’ half, they were unable to find an equaliser and subsequently extend their unbeaten run.
Karl Robinson made four changes for the visit of the Bantams, recalling Kyle McFadzean, Darren Potter, Ben Reeves and Will Grigg to the starting XI at the expense of Jordan Spence, Mark Randall, Dean Bowditch and Benik Afobe, who all dropped to the bench.
Dons almost went ahead as early as the second minute but Stephen Darby was in the right place to clear Antony Kay’s goalbound header off the line.
Bradford had a good chance of their own five minutes later although David Martin was more than up to Aaron Mclean’s fierce 15-yard drive after the striker had capitalised on a poor pass.
Martin was again called into action on 12 minutes, this time getting down well to his left to deny Billy Clarke from the edge of the box following a purposeful run from the former Crawley Town man.
Gary Liddle was perhaps lucky to get away with just a yellow card when he scythed down Alli, who was fortunately able to continue following a fairly lengthy period of treatment. From the resulting free-kick, Samir Carruthers stung the palms of Jordan Pickford.
That seemed to spur the Dons into life and Daniel Powell went close on 20 minutes, forcing Pickford into a fine at his near post after bamboozling a couple of Bradford defenders.
Just as the men from MK1 had begun to get in their stride, the visitors went in front courtesy of Mclean’s close-range header from Billy Knott’s in-swinging corner 25 minutes in.
Things got worse two minutes later when Clarke intercepted Kay’s cross-field pass, drove forward and arrowed an unstoppable 22-yard effort past Martin into the bottom right-hand corner.
The Dons responded and some good work from Alli in the middle of the park freed Grigg but, after expertly getting away from one man, his shot was blocked by the last defender.
Their improvement was rewarded in the 41st minute when captain Dean Lewington made Pickford pay for his fumble from Reeves’ corner, sweeping home only his 17th league goal from 12 yards to make it 2-1.
After an exquisite turn, Carruthers then flashed a long-range effort not too far past Pickford’s post as the Dons gave themselves real hope for the second period.
Carruthers created the hosts’ first chance of that second period when a nice touch set up Reeves, who drew a smart save from Pickford courtesy of a low 20-yard drive.
That proved to be the former’s last involvement as he was replaced on 53 minutes by Afobe, who was soon joined on the field by Bowditch after he came on for Reeves.
The Dons’ task was made tougher just past the hour mark when Robinson was sent to the stands for a reason which was unclear.
But his side continued to push for the equaliser and Powell fired over from inside the area after being picked out by Alli with just over 20 minutes remaining.
At the other end, Mark Yeates had a golden opportunity to once again open up a two-goal advantage for the visitors but he shot down the throat of Martin when well placed.
Tom Hitchock was introduced in place of George Baldock as the Dons went for the broke in the final 15 minutes, but it was the first substitute Afobe who sent the men from MK1 forward next when he played in Bowditch, whose cross was luckily turned behind for a corner. From the resulting set-piece, Pickford gathered under pressure from Grigg.
Afobe saw an effort deflect just wide and Darren Potter fired over from close range in a late flurry from the Dons, but they were unable to crucially find the back of the net.
The men from MK1 will be looking to bounce back against Crewe Alexandra at stadiummk on Saturday.
Starting XI: Martin; Baldock (Hitchcock 77), Lewington, Kay, McFadzean; Potter, Alli, Carruthers (Afobe 53), Powell, Reeves (Bowditch 61); Grigg.
Unused subs: McLoughlin, Spence, Flanagan, Randall.
Goals: Lewington (41)
Bookings: Baldock, Potter.
Attendance: 7,139 (231 away)