Report: Cardiff City 0-0 Dons
In a game short of chances, the men from MK1 more than matched the play-off chasing Bluebirds and came away with a deserved share of the spoils.
George Baldock made his first Dons appearance of the season after excelling during a loan spell at Oxford United. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was on the bench while Alex Revell was unavailable. Antony Kay was ill while Ben Reeves (thigh), Carl Baker (ankle) and Matt Upson (claf) remain sidelined.
Despite initial concerns over the pitch, referee Kevin Johnson deemed the surface playable and Cardiff started the better of the two teams, but the Dons grew into the game and Jake Forster-Caskey went very close courtesy of a 25-yard free-kick which whistled just over the bar.
Jonny Williams was looking lively down the left-hand side for the men from MK1, who were nullifying what the Bluebirds had to offer while also trying to create at the other end as the 20-minute mark approached.
Baldock and Rob Hall linked up nicely down the right just after the hour-mark but the latter couldn’t pick out a team-mate with his cut-back.
Some smart play in the middle of the park between Darren Potter, Hall and Samir Carruthers was the catalyst for another Dons opening on 34 minutes but, after latching on to the latter’s through-ball, Nicky Maynard was denied by a block from Manga.
On a rare foray forward, Cardiff saw a low drive from Sammy Ameobi deflect not too far wide – from the resulting corner, Tom Lawrence headed against the post when well placed.
With the half-time whistle approaching, David Martin got down brilliantly to push away Stuart O’Keefe’s close-range header, this before Peter Whittingham fired over from 20 yards.
Martin stood up well to save O’Keefe’s effort in the first minute of the second half while, at the other end, Matthew Connolly cleared up after Maynard had flicked on Hall’s cross.
Russell Slade’s men were looking dangerous and Martin had to be alert to tip over Scott Malone’s shot after some smart build-up play from the Bluebirds.
Lawrence then dragged a shot just wide of the target from the edge of the box before Martin comfortably gathered Anthony Pilkington’s acrobatic effort.
However, the best chance of the half fell to Maynard who, after superbly beating two defenders, he fired over the bar – the turf looked to have affected the striker’s control over the shot.
Emmanuel-Thomas came on for his Dons debut with just over 20 minutes remaining, alongside Josh Murphy – Maynard and Williams were the ones to make way.
The former immediately showed a glimpse of what he’s all about, picking up the ball and powering past his marker, only to be crowded out on the edge of the box.
Kyle McFadzean was alert to thwart Pilkington from 12 yards as Whittingham picked out his team-mate with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Forster-Caskey forced David Marshall into a fine save away to his right as the clocked ticked into injury-time while, at the other end, both substitute Dean Bowditch and Baldock threw their bodies on the line to earn a deserved share of the spoils.
Starting XI: Martin; Baldock, McFadzean, Walsh, Lewington (c); Potter, Forster-Caskey; Hall (Bowditch 86), Carruthers, Williams (Murphy 68); Maynard (Emmanuel-Thomas 68).
Unused subs: Cropper, Spence, Powell, Rasulo.