ROBBO: WE’RE UP FOR THE FIGHT...
Bottom three but Dons stay positive
KARL ROBINSON says his MK Dons players are ready to fight for their Championship survival after falling into the bottom three for the first time this season.
Dean Bowditch opened the scoring for the Dons midway through the first-half as managerless Fulham looked set to fall to their third straight defeat in the league.
But Moussa Demebele poked home his ninth goal of the season just before the break for the Cottagers to deny what would have been only the Dons’ third win since August.
“We should have been 2-0 up in the first half but we had a moment when we switched off slightly and the lad’s tapped it in,” said Robinson. “That’s when football is unfair because we really should have been two clear by then.
“Our game plan went missing a bit in the second half but as soon as the fans got behind our players they got back in the game.
“If we keep these players fit and this group fit we’re going to be okay come the end of the season. If we go down fighting it’s all I can ask of them. My players are mentally and physically ready for the fight.”
The hosts went close to finding an opener inside ten minutes when Bowditch fired a long-range effort towards Joe Lewis’ top corner in the visitors’ goal, but the former Peterborough stopper did excellently to palm the ball away from danger and out for a corner.
Bowditch then turned provider after a well-worked corner routine allowed the winger to slot the ball through to Josh Murphy inside the box, before the on-loan Norwich man fired a shot straight into a crowd of bodies and Fulham were able to clear.
Four minutes later, with the net gaping, Dembele fired high over an open goal from two yards out after Ross McCormack squared a pass beautifully into his path.
Bowditch smashed home his third goal of the season with a stunning half-volley from the edge of the visitors’ box to grab the Dons a deserved lead midway through the first half.
But the Dons couldn’t see their slender advantage through to the break as Demeble made amends for his earlier miss a minute from the interval with a neat finish from six yards out after some sloppy defending from Robinson’s side.
The visitors started to pile on the pressure after half-time as Sean Kavanagh threatened with a testing strike from outside the box, but Dons keeper David Martin smothered the danger.
But the Dons responded well and had two chances of their own within quick succession. Murphy fizzed an inviting cross in from the right hand side which found Darren Potter in a crowd of bodies in the box but he failed to guide his effort on target, then Bowditch raced clear of the Fulham defence and had his strike well saved.
“The first half was difficult.We started OK but I could see the flaws in the team that we have,” said Fulham’s caretaker boss Peter Grant. “But they dug in in the second half. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for them – they showed great character.
“We could have won it but we could have lost it too, so overall I’m happy with the point.”
Grant was assistant to Felix Magath before the German was sacked in September last year and he was moved to the under-21s, but has no desire for the job longterm. “I was delighted to come back into the dugout, but I’m only here to fill the gap for the chairman while they search for a new manager,” he added.
“We have to get the right man and hopefully he can take us to the Premier League.”
BOW-NUS BALL: Dean Bowditch fires MK Dons in front, but Moussa Dembélé was soon celebrating after equalising for Fulham, inset
STAR MAN JOSH MURPHY