Saints 3 MK Dons 2

SAINTS scored three goals in 11 second half minutes as they came back from 2-0 down to beat MK Dons 3-2.

The St Mary’s crowd were stunned to see their side fall two behind thanks to goals from Gary MacKenzie and Sam Baldock.

But Jonathan Forte’s first two goals for Saints – in the space of two minutes with his first touches after coming off the bench – and a strike from Lee Barnard sealed the three points.

Saints moved up to third with a feeling of momentum but with Huddersfield also winning at Tranmere the gap between Nigel Adkins’ men and second place remained five points but with three games in hand.

Saints made a bright start to the game, bossing possession and squeezing pressure on MK Dons.

Adam Lallana tried to create a first chance on six minutes by attempting some slick passing work in the area with Guly do Prado but they couldn’t quite pull it off in a packed box and it was cleared.

Lee Barnard had an effort from outside the box but it was a fairly comfortable save for David Martin.

MK Dons were being pushed back and were starting to look happy to get men behind the ball with their unusual 4-2-3-1 formation, trying to counter attack through Sam Baldock as the lone striker and to support him as best they could up against the Saints diamond midfield.

Dan Harding provided Saints a bit of width down the left and whipped in a dangerous cross from the left on 16 minutes but nobody could quite get on the end of it as it raced across the face of the goal.

As the half wore on it was still Saints in the ascendency but with MK Dons battling hard and getting men behind the ball chances were proving hard to come by.

The Saints fans were trying to get behind their side and lift them as they searched for a goal.

Do Prado had a sight of goal on 26 minutes when Gary MacKenzie made a mistake but his shot went over the bar.

Up the other end Danny Butterfield had to make a decent challenge to prevent Baldock getting in.

Lallana gave MK Dons a scare as he cut inside onto his right foot but his shot was blocked by Martin with Barnard offside for the follow up.

For all Saints’ pressure and dominance of possession it was MK Dons who stunned the St Mary’s support by taking the lead on 34 minutes with their first chance of any sort of the match.

Peter Leven whipped in a brilliant corner, MacKenzie lost his man and powered home a header from just inside the six yard box for 1-0.

Saints attempted an immediate response as they burst forward but Dean Hammond’s shot was fired over the bar.

Jose Fonte tried his luck with an optimistic long range effort but it was well wide.

Saints won a free kick in a good position out on the left after Lallana was brought down by Leven moments before half time but it was fired into the wall and it came to nothing.

When the half time whistle went Saints knew they had plenty to do in the second half if they were to grab a win they really needed.

Saints went straight for the jugular from the off but Harding’s cross was plucked out of the air by Martin.

Just like the start of the first half Saints were again on the front foot and the ones exerting the pressure.

This time they just needed a goal to settle the nerves, level things up and move on for a winner.

But far from that happening it was MK Dons who got the next goal on 52 minutes.

It was Baldock who got it out of nothing with a shot from an acute angle beating Kelvin Davis at his near post for 2-0.

It was suddenly imperative that Saints responded quickly if they were to get a win.

They certainly tried to get something happening as they flew back at MK Dons who were showing signs they were going to be happy to sit back and soak up some pressure with their two goal cushion.

However, they were always going to be a danger on the break and Baldock provided a reminder of that as he turned and closed in on goal before curling a shot just wide.

MK Dons made their first switch with Adam Clayton on for Rowan Vine before Saints made their first change to try and get something going with Jonathan Forte replacing Richard Chaplow on 64 minutes.

There was then another Dons substitution with Baldock having to go off injured for Keanu Marsh-Brown.

Saints got themselves back into the game on 66 minutes as Forte had an immediate impact.

Rickie Lambert got in a cross that the new man was able to chest down and volley home with his first touches for 2-1.

Dale Stephens came on for his Saints debut in place of Do Prado.

And just a minute later Forte scored again to make it two goals from three touches.

This time it was a great move with Lambert, Hammond and Lallana linking up before the latter’s low cross was palmed to the feet of Forte who produced the finish for the leveller.

Saints knew they had plenty of time to get a winner.

Barnard tried to provide it with no time wasted but his drive was just off target.

Saints made a final change with Frazer Richardson on for Butterfield on 72 minutes before the Dons responded with Jabo Ibehre on for Daniel Powell.

Davis had to get down to make a save from Marsh-Brown which reminded them MK Dons were still there.

Hammond had a chance with a header on 75 minutes but it was straight at Martin who saved.

But there was nothing he could do two minu tes later as Barnard produced an excellent finish to make it 3-2.

Saints were full of confidence and Lallana cut inside and out before putting his finish wide.

Stephen Gleeson was the first man in the book for a furious reaction after feeling he should have got a penalty as Fonte clambered upon him before Marsh-Brown poked a shot just wide.

Leven gave Saints another heart in mouth moment as he curled a free kick onto the top of the bar but Saints hung on for the three points.

Full match report, pictures and all the match reaction in Monday's Daily Echo.