Report: Dons 1-2 Leeds United
Despite dominating throughout, Karl Robinson’s men were unable to turn their pressure into a victory.
The visitors fortuitously found themselves 2-0 up at the break but the men from MK1 fought back and Simon Church’s goal set up an exciting final 20 minutes.
Samir Carruthers’ sending off didn’t stop the Dons pushing forward but they couldn’t find the equaliser that their play deserved.
Josh Murphy and Sam Gallagher replaced Dean Bowditch and Church in the starting XI for the clash with the Lilywhites. Ben Reeves returned to the bench after injury.
The Dons were the first to threaten on four minutes when Carl Baker broke forward and drove an effort not too far off target.
Superb interchange between Baker and Jordan Spence freed the latter who delivered a dangerous cross but it was cleared at the last.
Karl Robinson’s men continued to look lively early on and, after beating two Leeds defenders, Rob Hall shot wide before Murphy saw two low crosses gathered by Marco Silvestri.
Leeds responded with a ball over the top looking for Chris Wood while, at the other end, Murphy cut in and curled an effort past the post on 16 minutes.
The chances kept coming for the Dons, who were extremely impressive going forward – Gallagher forcing a top save from Silvestre before Baker drilled a drive over the bar.
Wood’s shot from distance, comfortably saved by David Martin, was the visitors’ only effort on goal as the game ticked past the midway point of the first half.
At the other end, Murphy made Silvestre work after some neat footwork got him away from Scott Wootton.
Completely against the run of play, Leeds took the lead on the half-hour mark when Wood sent Martin the wrong way from the spot after Baker had fouled Charlie Taylor.
It could have been 2-0 on 38 minutes but Wood opted to chest rather than head or volley and, therefore, missing the target from a right-wing cross.
Leeds continued to live a charmed life at the back and this time a combination of Silvestre and the post denied the energetic Hall – Gallagher fired over the rebound.
However, the visitors went further in front on a rare foray out of their own half when Taylor fired a fantastic effort across Martin and into the far corner.
Martin denied Alex Mowatt on 57 minutes in the first real action of the second half before the Dons responded with a double substitution, introducing Church and Reeves for Gallagher and Hall.
That lifted the Dons, who hit the post through Murphy on 65 minutes after Diego Poyet had seen a dipping effort tipped over the top by Silvestre.
Bowditch also came on for Spence as the Dons set up to really go for it in the final 20 minutes, and they found themselves a way back into the game a minute later when Church tapped home Murphy’s cross. The least the Dons deserved.
However, the men from MK1’s task was made more difficult when Carruthers was sent off for a challenge on Stuart Dallas on 78 minutes.
That didn’t deter the Dons, who continued to push for an equaliser and Reeves brought the best out of Silvestre from a 25-yard free-kick while Leeds were forced to deal with a number of dangerous balls into the box.
A last-ditch block denied Antony Kay’s powerful header finding the back of the net from a Murphy corner in the 96th minute. It just wasn’t to be the Dons’ day.
MK Dons: Martin; Spence (Bowditch 72), Kay, McFadzean, Lewington (c); Poyet, Carruthers; Baker, Hall (Reeves 58), Murphy; Gallagher (Church 58).
Unused subs: Burns, Hodson, Aguza, Powell.
Goal: Church (74).
Attendance: 19, 284.
Referee: David Webb