REPORT: MK DONS 1-1 TOWN
A 14th of the season from top scorer Nahki Wells earned Town a point at MK Dons in very odd circumstances after a poor first half and Philip Billing’s early second half red card.
The Terriers were second best in the opening 45 minutes and trailed at the interval, after which things went from bad to worse as Billing was sent off in controversial fashion early in the second half.
However, a bit of route one play from David Wagner’s side gave the Bermudian striker the chance he needed to give the Terriers a point on their way back to West Yorkshire.
Having talked about the need to keep his players fresh in the build-up to the game, Wagner made two changes to his starting XI for the evening kick-off.
After an impressive performance as a substitute during the weekend win over Wolves, Karim Matmour came in for Philip Billing – meaning Jamie Paterson dropped back to play alongside Jonathan Hogg in the 4-2-3-1 formation.
The other change came at centre back, where Joel Lynch was replaced by Martin Cranie for the latter’s first start in three games.
Unfortunately, the Terriers never hit the heights of recent performances during a fairly poor opening 45 minutes and deservedly trailed at the interval.
Top scorer Nahki Wells did have the first shot of the game – firing over from a narrow angle on the right edge of the penalty area – and then Cranie inexplicably planted a header well wide from around 12 yards out after Paterson picked him out unmarked from a corner.
However, the Dons took control and enjoyed a good period, forcing Jed Steer into two good near post saves. The first came in the 10th minute when he showed good reactions to push Jonny Williams’ near post shot wide and then he had to keep Revell at bay soon after, with Cranie blocking the follow-up expertly.
Town fought back to enjoy some territory without testing goalkeeper Cody Cropper, but the Dons took the lead in the 28th minute through a well worked move. Patient passing in the Town left back slot pulled Cranie out of position in the middle and Williams clipped a cross into the vacated area, which Revell got to before the defender to plant a firm header past the helpless Steer.
Wagner wasted no time in changing things, replacing Bunn and Lolley with Philip Billing and Elvis Manu during the interval.
Unfortunately, things went wrong inside four minutes when the 19 year-old Dane was shown a straight red card. The midfielder’s challenge on Jake Forster-Caskey on the halfway line was clumsy, but on review didn’t look dangerous enough to merit the dismissal that the referee awarded. The teenage Academy graduate looked gutted as he left the pitch.
That left 10-man Town trying to look for a way back into the game, but oddly the Dons didn’t seem to go for the jugular despite the man advantage and failed to test Jed Steer at all.
Instead, Wagner rolled the dice – and won. With 10 minutes to go, the German brought Joel Lynch on and pushed him – alongside skipper Hudson – up front, dropping Nahki Wells into a deeper midfield position.
That combination paid off with four minutes left as the Terriers opted for the long ball. One smash forward from Tommy Smith was expertly flicked on by Hudson into Wells’ path, but found enough space in the area to knock the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper to spark fantastic scenes in Buckinghamshire.
The expected Dons rush never came in the final minutes as the Terriers saw out the rest of the game for a well-earned point against the odds.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Jed Steer; James Husband (Joel Lynch, 81), Martin Cranie, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Jonathan Hogg, Jamie Paterson; Joe Lolley (Philip Billing, 46), Harry Bunn (Elvis Manu 46), Karim Matmour; Nahki Wells
Joe Murphy, Jason Davidson, Dean Whitehead, Kyle Dempsey
Jonathan Hogg (34); Nahki Wells (43)
Town red card:
Philip Billing (49)