MK Dons’ survival hopes in League One suffered a blow as Doncaster Rovers came from behind to win 2-1 at stadium:mk.
Ike Ugbo struck the game’s opening goal just inside the opening 20 minutes. Neither side could find a further goal in the opening half, but Doncaster struck level through the first of a John Marquis double.
Marquis’ second completed a second comeback victory for the South Yorkshire club over the Dons this season, and left the home side in trouble as the season enters its final stages.
With four games remaining of the League One season, the Dons are four points from 20th placed Oldham Athletic, who have played one game less. The Dons also dropped to 23rd position after Northampton won at Bury, with the Shakers’ relegation confirmed by the result.
After defeats at the hands of promotion chasing duo Wigan and Blackburn in their previous two assignments, the Dons looked for greater rewards as they welcomed midtable Doncaster Rovers to stadium:mk. The Dons began their second to last home game of the season three points from safety after AFC Wimbledon and Oldham picked up positive results in games in hand in midweek.
The Dons did ring the changes, with 3 from a heavy defeat by Wigan in their previous match. One of the changes included an enforced one in goal following an injury to Lee Nicholls, which meant a first league start of the season for Wieger Sietsma, who was also making his first appearance in any competition since December.
A tight opening saw Doncaster have the game’s first chance as some nice passing released Tommy Rowe, who missed the target with his low drive. But after that, it was the Dons who began to get into things.
The first chances fell to Peter Pawlett, who saw shots blocked by a defender and then by away goalkeeper Marko Marosi in quick succession. Pawlett then had another chance come his way, and saw this attempt parried by Marosi.
It was then the visitors who would strike first. George Williams received a swinging pass by Ed Upson before playing in an early cross that found Chuks Aneke. He in turn held the ball up then found Ugbo, who was able to keep his composure and slip a shot into the back of the net.
Ugbo was very close to a second a few minutes later when he was played in by Aneke, but although his angled shot beat Marosi, a covering visiting defender prevented the ball creeping over the line.
Doncaster elected to reshuffle with a first half tactical switch and began to show more going forward. After Mathieu Baudry’s misfire landed in the crowd, the visitors began to apply more pressure on the home side’s defensive players.
MK Dons still had their opportunity, with Aneke seeing two efforts blocked by Marosi. Doncaster’s best chances came for Rowe and the substitute Alfie Beestin, but neither player could find the target when well placed.
It was the visitors who would then equalise in the early moments of the second half. The ball was played into the path of Alex Kiwomya, whose low ball was initially blocked by Sietsma but fell instead for Marquis, who rolled the ball over the line from 2 yards.
This was the cue for an end-to-end start to the half. The Dons came close when Marosi denied Aneke, before Doncaster attacks saw Marquis denied from range and Beetsin hit wide.
A quick MK Dons attack involving Aneke and Ugbo in the build-up then released Pawlett, but the Dons player was unable to get his shot past the advancing Marosi. Straight away from that, the visitors broke quickly. Marquis was denied by Sietsma with his first attempt, before Beestin’s rebound bounced wide off the post.
Ugbo then had a chance to add to his personal tally when picked out by Williams, only to be foiled by a covering block from Niall Mason.
Doncaster’s next chance saw them then take the lead for the first time. A break down the left flank through Rowe saw him cut the ball back for Marquis, whose own shot in turn found the bottom corner.
The Dons attempted to respond, but the game became a much more tight affair, with players from both sides entering the book for a series of fouls.
The hosts also introduced a trio of attacking substitutes and saw some penalty appeals denied, but were struggling to create a great deal. The best chance fell the way of Williams, whose low effort was denied by Marosi.
A chance then also fell for Pawlett, but he couldn’t get the touch on substitute Marcus Tavernier’s cross to send it towards the back of the net.
Despite six extra minutes, the Dons couldn’t get themselves a way through, and they slipped to defeat.
MK Dons: Sietsma – Wootton, Ward, Lewington (Thomas-Asante 64) – Williams, Brittain (Muirhead 71), Pawlett, Upson, Golbourne – Aneke, Ugbo (Tavernier 80)
Subs not used: Jones, Cisse, Agard, Tymon
Goal: Ugbo (19)
Booked: Pawlett, Brittain, Upson
Doncaster: Marosi – Blair (Beestin 25), Wright (Butler 74), Baudry, Mason – McCullough (Whiteman 45) – Rowe, Houghton – Coppinger – Marquis, Kiwomya
Subs not used: Lawlor, Kongolo, May, Boyle
Goal: Marquis (49, 64)
Booked: McCullough, Marquis, Marosi