MK Dons finally banished their away day torment as they battled a horrendous St James’ Park pitch to earn a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Exeter City.
It looked to be the same old story for Dons fans when they fell behind to a spectacular Jamie Cureton strike, before Jabo Ibehre came off the bench to rescue a point for Karl Robinson’s side. Perhaps boosted by the team news prior to kick off that the Grecians’ star man Ryan Harley would only be among the substitutes after he had been strongly linked with a move to Brighton, the Dons looked more positive than they had done previously on the road as Robinson sent out an attacking team including both Daniel Powell and Sam Baldock.
However, the first chance of the afternoon fell to the home side, with Cureton picking a hole in the Dons defence to find Liam Sercombe, who then returned the ball to the lively front man who forced David Martin into an early save. Martin was repeatedly made to work as Richard Logan had a headed chance, before the Dons keeper was left powerless as Cureton tiptoed silkily through the defence and chipped over him to put Exeter ahead.
The goal came just eight minutes in, but it took just a further eight minutes for Powell to produce a great opportunity. The young Dons prospect drove a low ball towards the goal, but could not get past a superb Billy Jones block. Powell came close again minutes later and forced the keeper into a fine save as the Dons began to gain the crucial momentum. Typically,Lewis Guy was one of the leading lights in the attack, but blasted a shot wide after finding himself in space.
It was then Logan’s turn to miss the target for Exeter as he could not direct his volley towards the goal, and he was nearly punished as more good work from Guy set up Baldock, who beat the keeper but was denied by a desperate goal line clearance from Richard Duffy.
After the break, Gary MacKenzie must have thought he was going to level the scores, but his shot was blocked, by the ubiquitous Billy Jones. Powell began to steal the show yet again as he steered a shot that must have been meer inches away from finding the back of the net.
Martin appreciated a much quieter second half in the Dons goal, and apart from collecting a weak shot from Scott Golbourne had little to do. It was a stark contrast to the scene at the other end, as Peter Leven helped to keep up the pressure on the City defence and Baldock had a fantastic effort saved by Paul Jones.
But for all the pressure, hearts were in mouths for Dons fans as Golbourne fed in John O’Flynn, who, to the disbelief of the Exeter bench, pulled his shot wide from an unforgivable position. And finally the Grecians were made to pay, as Ibehre soon came off the bench to thrash a header home.
Both sides had chances to win it late on, as Adam Chicksen’s cross could not be converted by Luke Chadwick, while for City, Harley came on and tested Martin from range, but the game finished all square to see the Dons finally halt their losing run on their travels.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.