Match report: PNE 1 MK Dons 1

Preston North End were held to a draw by relegation-threatened MK Dons and had only themselves to blame for not taking the three points.

Saturday, 16th April 2016, 1:33 pm
Updated Saturday, 16th April 2016, 6:02 pm
PNE v MK Dons

Nine minutes from time, visiting goalkeeper Cody Cropper was sent-off for bringing down last man Eoin Doyle in the box.

With all their substitutes used, striker Alex Revell went in goal and saved the resulting penalty from Joe Garner.

It summed up a poor second-half show from North End, as did a late miss from Callum Robinson, with MK Dons looking the more hungry side.

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They had been much better in the first half, taking a sixth-minute lead through Jermaine Beckford,

The goal came in his first start since the Wembley play-off final last May, knee surgery having kept Beckford sidelined for a large chunk of the season.

North End had the chances to put the game to bed by half-time, with Marnick Vermijl, Paul Huntington, Doyle and Greg Cunningham all going close.

Those missed opportunities proved costly as MK Dons equalised nine minutes into the second-half through Nicky Maynard.

Beckford coming into the side had been one of two changes made to the starting XI by PNE boss Simon Grayson.

Adam Reach also returned to the side, with Garner and Robinson dropping down to the bench.

Beckford had a chance inside the first minute, Ben Pearson feeding him a pass 20 yards out, the striker taking the ball on a couple of strides only to scuff a shot straight at the keeper.

At the other end, Maynard scooped a shot high over the bar as MK Dons threatened for the first time.

The opening goal came in the sixth minute, Beckford getting behind the visitors defence to meet a Doyle flick, run clear and lift a shot over Cropper.

He almost had a second goal when Gallagher's cross from the left just evaded his out-stretched foot.

North End kept up the pressure with Vermijl volleying over at the far post after being picked out by a Reach cross.

Huntington saw a shot deflected on to the top of the net, the resulting corner from Gallagher headed wide by Cunningham.

MK Dons went close in the 18th minute, Jake Forster-Caskey's corner picking-out Joe Walsh in the box, his header going just over the bar.

It needed a fine challenge by Pearson to take the ball off Dean Bowditch after he had burst into the box to latch on to a pass from Dean Lewington.

Cunningham came close to stretching the lead with a fine drive from outside the box which the keeper saw late before clawing it away.

Doyle saw a goalbound header cleared inside the six-yard box, then just before the interval, Cunningham pulled a shot across goal and wide.

The visitors equaliser came nine minutes into the second half, one which PNE had started poorly and continued in such a manner.

Josh Murphy crossed low into the six-yard, Anders Lindegaard failed to cut it out and the ball fell to Maynard who was given enough time to control it and find the net with a close-range finish.

North End's play was disjointed and MK Dons grew in confidence as the second period progressed.

Maynard flicked a shot over the bar from close range after a corner had been headed down by Lewington.

Two shots from Daniel Johnson which went over sandwiched a glorious chance for the visitors at the other end.

Bowditch's cross from the left reached Kyle McFadzean at the back post, his volley superbly blocked by Lindegaard.

The contest's big moment came in the 81st minute when a long clearance from the back was headed on by Garner to send Doyle clear in the box.

The Irishman was brought down by Cropper as he tried to go round him, referee Stuart Attwell pointing to the spot and sending-off the keeper.

With all three substitutes used, striker Revell put on the keeper's jersey.

Garner stepped up to take the penalty, hit it well enough but Revell sprang to his left to push it behind.

There were still chances for North End to win it against the 10 men, the best of which fell to substitute Robinson in the 90th minute.

Doyle's cross was headed down into Robinson's path on the edge of the box, leaving him with only the keeper to beat.

But he went for power, firing over the bar when a shot placed either side of the stand-in keeper would have sufficed.

MK Dons almost snatched victory in the 91st minute, Murphy getting clear on goal but putting his shot inches wide of the far post.

PNE: Lindegaard, Vermijl, Huntington, Wright, Cunningham, Reach (Robinson 79), Pearson (Browne 72), Johnson, Gallagher, Doyle, Beckford (Garner 66). Subs (not used): Clarke, Welsh, Hugill, Kirkland.

MK Dons: Cropper. Spence (Baker 77), McFadzean, Walsh, Lewington, Potter, Forster-Caskey (Williams 46), Carruthers, Bowditch, Murphy, Maynard (Revell 66). Subs (not used): Kay, Powell, Long, Burns.

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Attendance: 10,457 (250 away)