Report: Nottingham Forest 2-1 Dons
They did pull one back through Josh Murphy with 10 minutes remaining and then enjoyed a lot of late pressure but the men from MK1 couldn’t mark their manager’s 300th game in charge with a result.
Bowditch and Ben Reeves replaced Carl Baker and Josh Murphy for the clash with Forest.
The hosts made the best possible start on two minutes when Oliveira broke right down the right, turned inside and fired an effort home from 15 yards.
Looking for a quick response, Hall broke away and some fancy footwork allowed him to find Nicky Maynard, who drove an effort just over the top from the edge of the area.
Hall, the Dons’ brightest spark early on, then forced Dorus De Vries into a magnificent stop from a 25-yard free-kick – the Forest keeper somehow getting his left-hand to a curling effort.
The men from MK1 were enjoying good possession and territorial advantage but Dougie Freedman’s men fired a warning shot on 10 minutes when Mendes flashed an effort across goal.
At the other end, Hall made good yards and unleashed a low drive which took a deflection and asked a question of De Vries, but he was up to the challenge.
But, against the run of play, Forest went 2-0 up on 16 minutes, Mendes making the most of some indecision in the Dons’ box and poking past David Martin from close range.
Hall was leading the Dons’ fightback and Forest were having to stay on their guard as the men from MK1 enjoyed a good spell of pressure as the game approached the half-hour mark.
Shortly afterwards, referee Simon Hooper waved away penalty appeals as Ben Reeves’ cross appeared to strike the hand of Eric Lichaj.
On a rare foray forward for Forest, Mendes fired over the top from 25 yards while, at the other end, Dean Bowditch delivered a dangerous ball but no-one could get on the end of it.
Forest started the second half on the front-foot and the Dons managed to ride an early storm, which included Martin thankfully watching Oliveira’s low drive past the post.
Bowditch was presented with a good opportunity to reduce the arrears on 55 minutes but he directed Hall’s cut-back straight at De Vries.
An inadvertent slip from Hall provided Forest with a chance to cross from a dangerous position, however, Antony Kay picked up a fantastic position and cleared the danger.
Martin ensured the score remained at 2-0 on 62 minutes, expertly tipping Henri Lansbury’s dipping 25-yard free-kick behind for a corner.
Oliveira almost added his second shortly afterwards but his rasping 25-yard drive cannoned back off the post – a let-off for the Dons.
Bowditch’s low drive which went wide of the target was his last involvement as he and Jordan Spence were replaced by Baker and Sam Gallagher.
But it was the first substitute, Josh Murphy, who gave his side a lifeline when he was brought down in the box by Lichaj, but Maynard’s spot-kick was saved.
However, the Dons did pull one back on 80 minutes, Murphy playing a one-two with Dean Lewington before finishing superbly past De Vries from 15 yards. Great goal, one which gave the Dons hope.
Robinson’s side were camped inside Forest’s half with the hosts forced to defend for their lives, including clearing a clever cut-back from Gallagher as he looked for the forward-McFadzean.
Martin; Spence (Baker 76), Kay, McFadzean, Lewington (c); Potter, Carruthers; Hall, Reeves (Murphy 63), Bowditch (Gallagher 76); Maynard. Starting XI:
Cropper, Hodson, Poyet, Powell. Unused subs:
Murphy (80). Goals: