League One - MK Dons take play-off lead
Five goals and two red cards told only half the story as MK Dons took a slender 3-2 advantage from the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final with Peterborough at stadium:mk.
Trailing to Craig Mackail-Smith’s early strike, Dons came flying out of the traps after the break, drawing level through Daniel Powell moments after the restart, before Sam Baldock and Angelo Balanta fired them in front.
Things went from bad to worse for Posh in the 67th minute when Charlie Lee was dismissed after being shown a second yellow card, but things were levelled up when Stephen Gleeson was given a straight red for bringing down Mark Little in the box, although replays showed the officials had made the wrong call.
The ever-reliable Grant McCann stroked home the penalty to set up a tasty second leg at London Road on Thursday.
Posh went into the game having scored 106 times in League One this term. And they took just eight minutes to break the deadlock at stadium:mk when Mackail-Smith tapped home from close range after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s shot from just inside the area could only be palmed into the path of the Peterborough man by David Martin.
Mathias Doumbe was lucky to escape with a two-footed lunge on Mendez-Laing in the 17th minute, with the Dons man showing a better side to his game shortly afterwards as he skipped down the right only to see his low cross somehow evaded two waiting teammates.
The same man then saw his header brilliantly clawed away by Joe Lewis in the 40th minute after a corner caused confusion in the Posh box.
And three minutes later, Doumbe went even closer, meeting Gary MacKenzie's knock-down but seeing his effort clip the top of the woodwork off Lewis’ shoulder.
Peterborough, who lost Gabriel Zakuani to injury in the first period, were forced to replace Lewis at half-time with Paul Jones, on loan from Exeter.
And Jones’ first involvement was not a good one as he fumbled Tommy Rowe’s poor defensive header from Dean Lewington’s deep cross. The ball fell to Powell and he bundled home from close range to draw the hosts level.
Two minutes later it was 2-1 to MK Dons as Baldock’s powerful free-kick from 30 yards went through the Posh wall and flew past Jones.
And on 56 minutes, Balanta fired past Jones at his near post after Peterborough had only half-cleared a Lewington corner.
Luke Chadwick cleared a Boyd shot off the line after Martin fumbled a cross, before Lee was given his marching orders after catching Powell to earn a second yellow card.
Baldock then shaved a post when he should have done better, and David Ball saw a shot go inches wide at the other end.
Gleeson was dismissed after the referee adjudged he had ended a superb run from right-back Little in the box. Replays, however, showed Little had clipped his own feet.
McCann showed no sympathy, though, slotting home the resulting spot-kick to give Peterborough hope ahead of the second leg.