MK Dons 2-2 Leicester
28/02/09 - 3 p.m.
Substitute Max Gradel's incredible free-kick six minutes into added time gave Leicester a vital point on the way to promotion from League One this season.
Gradel, on as a 78th minute substitute, curled home his set-piece from just outside the area with full time looming to send the 4,300 strong Leicester fans into raptures.
Matty Fryatt had put the visitors ahead in just the 5th minute, before two goals from Peter Leven either side of half-time gave the Dons a 2-1 lead going into added time.
It was a valuable point for the Foxes in a game the home side dominated for much of the 90 minutes; even more so to simply to deny the Dons of three points in their bid to keep hold of top spot.
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson made one enforced change to his starting lineup which squeezed past Bristol Rovers last Saturday, Wayne Brown replacing the suspended Jack Hobbs at centre back.
It was the Foxes who started the game the brighter of the two sides, and came out of the traps in the 3rd minute when Joe Mattock burst through to fire over Gueret's goal.
However, it wasn't long before Pearson's men did take the lead. Steve Howard's cushioned header found strike partner Matty Fryatt, who in turn finished off from 6 yards for his 27th goal of the season.
MK started to settle into the game and should have been level seven minutes later when Nick Chadwick was played through by Aaron Wilbraham, only to place wide with the goal at his mercy.
Chances were becoming more frequent for the home side, and they crafted another though Jason Puncheon soon after. However, the former Barnet man's shot from the edge of the area drifted harmlessly past Bunn's goal to safety.
League One top-goalscorer Fryatt saw sight of goal on 33 minutes after good work from Lloyd Dyer, but his resulting shot was well blocked for a corner.
The Dons continued to plug away and eventually reaped their rewards after 36 minutes. Wayne Brown was turned expertly by Aaron Wilbraham, who in turn teed up Peter Leven who fired low past Bunn, the goalkeeper perhaps disappointed with his attempt to deny the midfielder.
With just a minute of the first half remaining Puncheon came agonisingly close to sending the Dons into the lead at the break, but his shot was blocked off the line by Oakley.
The pressure continued in the early stages of the second half, and it was Puncheon again who was the danger man. First turning Leicester right-back Kerrea Gilbert, the resulting shot was well blocked by Wayne Brown for a corner.
The patience of the Leicester faithful was furstratingly growing thin, and it was no surprise to hear the groans as Steve Howard volleyed over in the 59th minute. A quick free-kick was turned into the box by former-Don Lloyd Dyer, but his ball across fell just behind the big striker to prevent him producing anything with.
Dyer was replaced three minutes later by Tom Cleverley in Nigel Pearson's first change of the game, as Bruno Berner moved to left back with Joe Mattock on the left wing.
The Dons' fearsome trio of Wilbraham, Puncheon and Leven were causing chaos for Leicester's defence, and it was no great surprise to see them take the lead after 63 minutes. Wilbraham's vision found Nick Chadwick, who in turn slid the ball through for Leven to finish off his second goal of the game.
It looked like Leicester's current 20 match unbeaten run would be coming to an abrupt end at stadium:mk as the home side continued to pile the pressure on. Livewire Jemal Johnson was involved in the latest opportunity, but his shot from the angle only found side netting.
Pearson knew his side had to attack more if they were to get anything from the game, and introduced Max Gradel to replace Joe Mattock with 78 minutes played. Chris Powell was also introduced in the 85th minute as Wayne Brown limped off to add to Leicester's woes.
Andy King found himself with a shooting opportunity in the same minute, but his final effort sailed frustratingly over the bar.
There was an initial 5 minutes added time signalled by the fourth official, but persistent time wasting from the Dons ensured there was time for more drama. Steve Howard was adjudged to have been fouled on the egde of the area, and the resulting set-piece was left to substitute Max Gradel. The Ivorian had struggled to make the squad in recent weeks, but found himself to be the hero in Leicester this evening as his brilliant free-kick found the top corner in the 97th minute to send the travelling Leicester support wild.
There was even time for more action at the other end as the home side found themselves with a free-kick in a similar position. Fortunately for the Foxes the resulting effort hit the wall, before being forced out for a corner, which was subsequently dealt with to preserve the point for Leicester.
No doubt it was a game that MK deserved to win; the better side throughout much of the game, but a moment of brilliance from Gradel sees the Foxes take home a share of the spoils to keep both their 21 match unbeaten run, and most importantly 12 point advantage at the top of League One going strong.
Leicester: Bunn, Gilbert, Morrison, Brown (Powell 85), Mattock (Gradel 78), Oakley ©, King, Berner, Dyer (Cleverley 60), Howard, Fryatt.
Subs not used: Dickov, Pentney.
MK Dons: Gueret, Lewington ©, Llera, O'Hanlon, Johnson, Wilbraham, Regan, Puncheon (Baldock 90+3), Navarro, Leven (Belson 90+5), Chadwick (Stirling 71).
Subs not used: Abbey, Gerba.
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