Blues suffered more penalty anguish as Kieran Agard’s spot-kick helped MK Dons secure a 1-1 draw at Stadium MK on a night where Josh Wright missed Southend’s fourth penalty in five.
Much had been said about Southend’s misfortunes from the spot and Josh Wright only added to the disappointment when his penalty in the fourth minute of the first-half was saved by Lee Nicholls.
Southend though deservedly went into the break in front when Stephen McLaughlin’s half-volley from outside the area squeezed between Nicholls and his right-hand post.
McLaughlin should have scored again just before the break when he was sent clean through from a long ball, but he couldn’t convert and Dons would go on to punish Blues from the spot.
Mark Oxley clattered into Chuks Aneke after a slight hesitation from the Blues stopper allowed Aneke to the long-ball, leaving Kieran Agard to score from 12-yards and grab a share of the points.
In the closing moments, Southend could have stolen the win when both Simon Cox and Michael Turner hit the woodwork, but it was two points dropped for Phil Brown’s side.
Brown said he was looking for a reaction from his side following the 1-0 defeat against Portsmouth and, although Blues played much better, he will have been disappointed only to seal a point.
The Blues boss made three changes from the trip to Fratton Park with Jason Demetriou, Stephen McLaughlin and Marc-Antoine Fortune coming in for John White, Nile Ranger and Theo Robinson.
There was much talk pre-game about Southend’s penalty woes having missed three of their last four spot-kicks, including one on Saturday which proved costly against Portsmouth.
Just four minutes into the game, Blues were given a chance to exile those demons from 12-yards after referee Tim Robinson pointed to the spot for a shirt pull on Michael Turner.
Josh Wright put the ball down confidently, having been the regular penalty taker whilst at Gillingham, but he saw his penalty saved by Lee Nicholls who guessed correctly to save to his right.
That was the second time Wright had missed from the spot against MK Dons this season having done the same for Gillingham in August, but Blues had more than enough time to make amends.
Penalty miss aside, Southend had the better of the first-half and Marc-Antoine Fortune went close after linking well with Simon Cox to get goal-side, only for Nicholls to save from close range.
Midway through the half and Michael Kightly tried to catch Nicholls off guard by shooting directly from a corner, but the Dons stopper was alive to the danger and tipped the ball over.
But with 27 minutes on the clock, Southend got the goal that their first-half display richly deserved as Stephen McLaughlin opened the scoring for the visitors.
The Irishman was picked out outside the penalty area after Fortune broke down the left, beating Nicholls with a half-volley which squeezed between himself and his right-hand post.
Nicholls will have been disappointed to have let McLaughlin’s effort beat him, but the travelling Blues fans didn’t care as they found themselves 1-0 to the good going into the break.
And it could have been even better for Blues at the interval as Dons were sliced open in injury-time by a long-ball forward, McLaughlin got on the end of it but couldn’t beat Nicholls a second time.
It had been a poor opening 45 minutes from MK Dons, but they were brighter after the interval with Chuks Aneke having a good chance on goal blocked on the edge of the area early on.
The former-Arsenal youngster had an even better chance moments later when he was found at the far post by a Paul Pawlett free-kick but his header failed to test Oxley as it flew over the crossbar.
Dons were beginning to look a real threat and went inches away from equalising when their captain Alex Gilbey hit a low drive that deflected off Anton Ferdinand and whistled past the upright.
From the resulting corner, Gilbey again had a chance when the ball fell kindly to him inside the area, only for his effort to be blocked as Dons ramped up the pressure on the visitors.
Dons were then rewarded for their pressure with a quarter of an hour remaining as referee Robinson awarded his second penalty of the game, this time for a foul by Oxley on Aneke.
Slight hesitation from Oxley allowed Aneke to beat the Blues keeper to a long ball forward, with Oxley clattering into the number 10 before receiving a yellow card.
Kieran Agard – fresh from scoring twice from the bench against Charlton on Saturday – stepped up and smashed the ball down the middle to bring the two sides level.
So many times this season, Blues have been made to pay for not taking their chances in the first half and it looked like they would suffer again as MK Dons pushed for an unlikely winner.
With time running out for either side to steal the win, Blues bombarded the Dons goal and in the final throws of the game they hit the woodwork twice in quick succession.
Cox was first to hit the frame of the goal when his header from 10-yards out rattled against the crossbar before being cleared away for another corner.
From the resulting set-piece, Turner rose at the back post to head the ball down towards goal only to see his header come off the face of the post to round off a frustrating night for Blues.
MK Dons XI: Nicholls, Walsh, Wootton, Ariyibi (Pawlett 46’), Aneke, Golbourne, Agard, McGrandles (Thomas-Asante 85’), Nesbitt, Brittain, Gilbey (C). Subs Not Used: Sietsma, Lewington, Seager, Muirhead, Nombe
Blues XI: Oxley, Ferdinand (C), Turner, Kightly (Hendrie 90+4’), Timlin, Fortune (Ba 70’), Cox, McLaughlin (McGlashan 83’), Leonard, Demetriou, Wright. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Yearwood, Wabo, White
Referee: Tim Robinson
Assistants: Darren Blunden & Daniel Robathan
Fourth Official: Brett Huxtable
MK Dons: Kieran Agard (p)76’
Southend United: Stephen McLaughlin 27’
MK Dons: Scott Wootton 4’, Alex Gilbey 10’
Southend United: Ryan Leonard 57’, Mark Oxley 75’