Report: Dons 1-2 Nottingham Forest
A superb move was emphatically finished off by Nicky Maynard as the men from MK1 cancelled out Chris Cohen’s opener.
Karl Robinson’s men created numerous chances but were unable to find the net and then were caught on the counter attack with 15 minutes remaining – Britt Assambalonga scoring the winner.
Dean Lewington made his 600th appearance for the Dons while Ben Reeves was back on the bench, but Karl Robinson was unable to call upon Dave Martin, Cody Cropper, Jake Forster-Caskey and Rob Hall (all injured). George Baldock missed out due to illness.
Despite the Dons looking good in possession, it was Forest who created the first opportunities but Charlie Burns was up to task on both occasions, saving from Ben Osborn and Matt Mills.
However, there was nothing he could do on eight minutes as Chris Cohen headed home Osborn’s cross at the back post.
Eric Lichaj came close to extending Forest’s lead on 14 minutes when he sent a low 20-yard drive narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Looking to get back into it, Carl Baker almost picked out Nicky Maynard inside the box but it was well cut-out by Mills.
The Dons were level shortly afterwards, though, and the equaliser was one to savour – Samir Carruthers picked out Murphy, who expertly put in on a plate for Maynard to smash home. A great passing move and finish.
Robinson’s men went close in quick succession to taking the lead around the half-hour mark – firstly, Joe Walsh heading a free-kick just over the top before Murphy curled an effort not far past the top left-hand corner.
There was more magic from Murphy on 35 minutes as he beat Lichaj with ease before being brought down by Mills. From the resulting free-kick, Baker saw his effort parried before Lewington’s rebound was cleared.
Forest were reduced to 10 men two minutes later when Danny Fox flew in on Jordan Spence – referee Stephen Martin showed him a straight red card for what looked like a dangerous challenge.
The Dons almost made their man advantage count at the start of the second half following a well-worked corner but Murphy curled his shot over the top.
Reeves was introduced for his first game-time in two months after recovering from injury and he went close to making it 2-1 on the hour mark, but his near-post header was brilliantly kept out by Dorus De Vries.
Lewington lifted a free-kick over the top from 25 yards shortly afterwards as the Dons continued to push to go in front.
Maynard missed out on his second of the afternoon and ninth of the season when he acrobatically volleyed over the top from Baker’s cut-back midway through the half – the Dons were getting closer.
Reeves, looking sharp on his return, curled an effort just wide before Carruthers couldn’t quite latch on to Lewington’s through-ball.
However, on the counter, Forest hit the front with 15 minutes remaining when Osborn fed substitute Brett Assombalonga and he finished with aplomb.
Carruthers fired over and Reeves forced De Vries into a fine save as the Dons responded, but the best chance of a good spell for the men from MK1 fell to Kevin Long, who was denied at close range by the Forest keeper.
Following Connor Furlong at Ipswich Town, Robinson handed a second Academy player a senior debut in the space of a week when he introduced 17-year-old Oran Jackson in the final minutes.
Starting XI: Burns; Spence (Reeves 50), Long, Walsh, Lewington (c); Potter, Carruthers (Jackson 88); Baker, Bowditch, Murphy; Maynard (Revell 72).
Unused subs: McFadzean, Kasumu, Powell, Furlong.
Goal: Maynard 19
Attendance: 15, 486.