Report: MK Dons 3-3 Bristol Rovers
Goals from Dean Bowditch and GB Williams, his first for the Club, had the Dons 2-0 up and in control at the break.
A superb solo effort from Ben Reeves restored the Dons’ two-goal lead after Matty Taylor had pulled one back, only for Rovers’ No.10 to strike twice and complete his hat-trick in the final five minutes to secure a share of the spoils.
Jack Hendry made his league debut for the Dons while Ed Upson and Ryan Colclough also came back into the starting XI. Joe Walsh and Darren Potter were unavailable due to suspension.
The Dons were let off the hook in the opening minute when Ollie Clarke fired over when well placed after Billy Bodin’s cross had fallen into his path.
Karl Robinson’s men responded with efforts from Colclough, Paul Downing and Kieran Agard as they soon exerted themselves on their opponents.
Some fantastic football on 12 minutes involving the returning Upson set up a chance for Colclough, who chested down and volleyed wide.
Lady Luck hadn’t made too many visits to Stadium MK but maybe she played a part in the Dons’ opener four minutes later as Kelle Roos spilled Reeves’ effort and Bowditch turned home the rebound.
It was almost 2-0 just three minutes later but Colclough’s effort, after cutting in dangerously from the left-hand side, cannoned against the crossbar from 20 yards.
The Dons were dominant at this stage with Rovers’ rare foray forward - a Bodin effort – comfortably saved by David Martin on 22 minutes.
Just a minute later, GB Williams doubled the Dons’ advantage from an inch-perfect Dean Lewington cross, powerfully heading the ball into off the far post - his first goal for the Club.
Both of the Dons’ centre-backs were involved at either end in the space of a minute around the half-hour mark – Hendry to mop up superbly and then Paul Downing to head over the top from close range.
Bowditch came extremely close to adding to his tally for the evening but he glanced his header inches wide from another pinpoint Lewington delivery.
After being severely under the cosh, Bristol Rovers came back into the game as the half drew to a close and Bodin went very close to pulling one back but his shot whistled past the post.
They did reduce the arrears two minutes into the second half Matty Taylor picked up the ball, drove forward and curled home a superb 20-yard effort.
Taylor again tried his luck from distance on 50 minutes but Martin was up to the task, comfortably saving the fierce effort to preserve the Dons’ lead.
Shortly afterwards, opposition keeper Roos did the same to deny Colclough – Bowditch was thwarted by a brilliant tackle as he looked to turn home the rebound.
With an hour on the clock, the game was finely in the balance as the Dons went in search of extending their lead while Rovers looked to draw level.
To the delight of the home crowd, it was the men from MK1 who struck next as Reeves jinked his way in between two men before drilling low through Roos on 66 minutes.
Former Don Chris Lines sent a free-kick over the top as Rovers aimed to reduce the arrears once again but, in truth, Robinson’s men were looking the more likely to add to their tally.
Substitute Danel Powell went close to creating a fourth when he delivered a dangerous ball but, instead, it was 3-2 on 86 minutes when Taylor tapped home Jake Clarke-Salter’s cut-back.
Rovers then stunned the Dons and pulled level just two minutes later, with Taylor completing his hat-trick courtesy of a smart finish from 12 yards.
Starting XI: Martin; GB Williams, Downing, Hendry, Lewington (c); Upson, Carruthers; Agard, Reeves, Colclough (Powell 61); Bowditch (Maynard 78).
Unused subs: Nicholls, Tilney, GC Williams, Thomas-Asante, Tshimanga.
Bookings: Bowditch, Lewington.
Goals: Bowditch (16), GB Williams (23), Reeves (66).