Not the most exciting encounter but the joy that met Barry Corr's injury time equaliser signalled that City got their just reward at stadium:MK. After an even, and equally uninspiring, first half in which the sides cancelled each other out MK took the lead through Sam Baldock soon after the break only for Corr to level late on. MK will be pleased to see the back of the Irish striker who netted his 4th gaol against them this season.
City lined up 4-5-1: Marriott, Tully, Taylor, Edwards, Golbourne, Sercombe, Russell, Duffy, Harley, Stewart, Stansfield.
Neither side could gain the initiative and it wasn't until the 12th minute that any effort worthy of note materialised, MK's Luke Chadwick firing well wide. The early exchanges were mostly well away from any danger until the 20th minute when Tully broke free on the right. His cross was half cleared only for Harley to fire goalwards. Gueret, in the MK goal, clawed the ball away and then had the agility to palm away Stewart's follow up.
The first save Marriott had to produce came 5 minutes later as Baldock received the ball in the inside right channel. Marriott was able to force him wide and then able to recover as Baldock attempted to expose his position.
On the half hour came City's best spell of possession. Patient, accurate and confident they put together nearly 30 passes, including Marriott playing a lovely floated ball to Sercombe on the right. The move didn't get its reward as Stansfield's cross was caught by Gueret. Then the temper of the game changed.
Russell was caught late by Townsend. Quite rightly he was booked. As players gathered round the incident the referee called Taylor and MK's Darren Powell over. For some reason he booked them both but that would be the first of a few seemingly bizarre decisions.
The next chance fell to Baldock but the angle gave Marriott a comfortable catch, then he saved from Chadwick after a corner was cleared to the edge of the area. Between times, Stewart had pulled up and been replaced by Logan.
So, even at the interval and probably what City wanted. Uneventful, the odd chance but competitive.
MK replaced Powell at the break and the first few minutes were as it was. Until the 50th when Stansfield's cross just eluded the stretching Sercombe, and Logan couldn't react quickly enough as the ball hit him. Then, within 20 seconds City were behind. MK broke on the right and a ball into the tall figure of Wibraham was fed back to Baldock. He controlled, steadied and fired right to left across Marriott into the far corner with a fine finish. The first real piece of quality, and it told.
Almost immediately Russell was withdrawn for Corr and City went 4-3-3. A long stoppage followed as Corr clashed heads with MK centre half McCracken. McCraken was down for 3 minutes before leaving the pitch, to return with a clean shirt. But the challenge seemed to leave a bad feeling and within minutes of the restart Logan was booked and then McCracken for a foul on Corr. It looked as though the referee had blown for him leading with his arm, in which case the yellow card was a fortunate outcome.
Corr brought Gueret into action with 20 to go as he met Tully's excellent cross and soon Tisdale made his final change introducing Joe Burnell for his debut. He replaced Edwards, with Duffy slotting into the back line.
But City couldn't get any momentum and as time ticked away it was MK who looked like stretching the lead, albeit without overrunning City. They headed wide from a corner, then Marriott clawed an effort away as he backpeddalled.
In what seemed like it would be City's final effort Logan headed straight at Gueret after Taylor had knocked the ball back from Harley's cross.
The fractured game deserved the 7 minutes of added time indicated and only a minute in City got their rewards. Burnell knocked a pass towards Taylor who looped the ball towards the far post. The flight took it beyond the defenders and Corr was on hand to stroke left footed back across goal to start the celebrations.
Photo courtesy of Phil Mingo Pinnacle Photography.
As the injury time wound down Harley couldn't quite reproduce his Leeds header and MK shot over. But with a couple more bookings thrown in for good measure, when it seemed Stansfield and Wilbraham had both made genuine efforts to block clearances, the game ended.
So City stop the rot on their travels and gain a good point against one of the league's genuine play off contenders. It wasn't spectacular, but it was deserved and effective on a bitterly cold afternoon.
And now we enter Tis territory. How many February's is it unbeaten now?
Southampton are up at SJP next saturday and they'll be a different proposition from Boxing Day given their acquisitions in the transfer window, including our own Dan Seaborne.
You know the drill though don't you? Let us give him a warm welcome back them make sure it's Fortress St. James for 90 minutes and you play your part as you did when Leeds visited. We know we have the quality to get at every side in this league. Today we showed we had the grit and determination too.