Norwich City 1, MK Dons 1
David Cuffley SLIDESHOW: Chris Martin proved Norwich City’s last-minute hero again with a superb goal to earn a point from a bad-tempered clash with Milton Keynes Dons. Martin fired home his 22nd goal of the season from a free-kick awarded for a foul by the Dons’ first-half scorer, Aaron Wilbraham, who was shown a second yellow card in the process to earn himself a sending-off.
Chris Martin proved Norwich City's last-minute hero again with a superb goal to earn the League One leaders a point from a bad-tempered clash with Milton Keynes Dons.
Martin, who scored the winner against Leeds a fortnight ago, fired home his 22nd goal of the season from a free-kick awarded for a foul by the Dons' first-half scorer, Aaron Wilbraham, who was shown a second yellow card in the process to earn himself a sending-off.
Seven of his MK team-mates were also booked and referee Kevin Friend was barracked repeatedly by the home crowd, most notably when he denied City a clear second-half penalty when Wilbraham handled.
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Wilbraham had opened the scoring after 20 minutes and the Dons were hanging on grimly in their bid to become the only side to double City this season, but Martin's goal meant justice was done in the end.
City suffered a major blow, however, when skipper Grant Holt picked up his 10th booking of the season and he now faces a two-match ban, missing the trips to Leyton Orient and Charlton.
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The result left Paul Lambert's men eight points clear of Millwall, who moved into second place with a 4-0 win over Gillingham.
Swindon were beaten 3-0 at Colchester and Leeds beat Southend 2-0, but there were defeats for Charlton and Huddersfield.
The Canaries now need a maximum of seven points from their last five matches to be sure of promotion to the Championship.
Defender Gary Doherty returned to the City starting line-up after missing the Easter Monday victory over Stockport with a dead leg. Doherty replaced Zak Whitbread, who was not included in the 18.
Wes Hoolahan was still sidelined by a thigh strain, and Lambert relied on the same seven substitutes as five days earlier.
MK Dons boss Paul Ince was so badly hit by suspensions and injuries that he was able to name only four substitutes.
Centre-backs Mathias Doumbe and David McCracken were banned, while those out injured or ill included Stephen Gleeson, Sam Baldock and James Tunnicliffe.
Former City winger Luke Chadwick was included in the Dons' line-up.
The Canaries were wearing their new brighter yellow home shirts, while the visitors donned red rather than their first choice white strip.
The teams took the field in bright sunshine and City kicked off, attacking the Barclay goal.
City won an early free-kick wide on the left when Holt was fouled by Woodards, but Lappin's kick was headed away.
With three minutes gone, the visitors had to be thankful for a goalline clearance from Carrington as Doherty got in a header from the first corner of the match by McNamee.
City won another free-kick when Powell knocked Holt to the ground and the skipper reacted badly as Powell followed up by catching Holt on the thigh with his studs. The referee spoke to both players, and Doherty was again very close to opening the scoring when he met the resulting free-kick from Russell with a firm header that Gueret tipped over.
In the 14th minute, Holt very nearly grabbed his 31st goal of the season, denied only by a fine save by Gueret. Russell Martin broke down the right and his cross was perfectly judged to Holt at the far post, but the skipper's sidefoot shot was kept out by Gueret's outstretched left leg.
MK Dons forcer their first corner after 15 minutes, taken short to Chadwick, with Randall following up to send a long-range effort over the top.
Drury provided two openings by overlapping well, first when his cross reached McNamee, who brought Gueret into action with a curling shot, then when Holt got ahead of the defence to flick Drury's centre just over the top.
In the 20th minute, City's bright opening was undermined when the Dons took a surprise lead through Wilbraham.
Leven's inswinging corner, taken left-footed from the right side, found the head of Russell Martin but the defender's attempt to clear dropped neatly for Wilbraham to volley home at the far post.
Three minutes later, Powell headed wide from another Leven corner as the visitors looked to increase their lead.
City were struggling to recapture their early momentum and Easter hooked another effort wide of the target as the visitors continued to press.
McNamee's cross was just too strong for Lappin, rushing in at the far post, as the Canaries pushed forward again.
Holt had two half-chances in a matter of seconds, his curling shot beaten away by Gueret, then his header going over the top as McNamee whipped the ball back into the penalty area.
City had the ball in the net eight minutes before the break when Russell's cross from the left drifted inside the far post, but Chris Martin had fouled goalkeeper Gueret and, much to the crowd's annoyance, was shown the yellow card.
Holt, walking a yellow card tightrope, earned a lecture from referee Friend after backing into Powell but the defender seemed to make a meal of the challenge.
There were ironic cheers when the referee finally gave City a free-kick for Randall's shove on Smith, but with the kick taken quickly, McNamee's cross from the right was too strong for Holt.
Randall was then shown the yellow card just before the break for a late challenge on Lappin that sparked angry exchanges between the two sets of players.
In first-half stoppage time, Leven followed Randall into the book for a wild tackle on Smith that the youngster did well to leap clear of.
A foul by O'Hanlon on Nelson gave City a free-kick in the closing seconds of the half, but they were unable to make it count.
t Half-time: Norwich City 0, MK Dons 1
Goalscorer Wilbraham earned the Dons' third booking, seven minutes after the break.
Russell fired over the top for City a minute later, and Holt headed wide from Lappin's cross as they stepped up the pressure.
Rudd made a fine save from Lewington's header from a Leven corner, but referee Friend had spotted an infringement.
On the hour, Holt was denied again Gueret when his left-foot shot brought a fine diving save out of the 'keeper.
The game was becoming more notable for a flurry of yellow cards, with ex-Canary Chadwick booked for a foul on McNamee and then Holt booked for deliberate handball, his 10th caution of the season earning him a two-match ban.
O'Hanlon was shown the yellow card for pulling back Holt, after which City made their first change with Johnson replacing McNamee.
Holt had another header saved by Gueret, and, with 72 minutes gone, Rudd saved bravely in a one-on-one against Easter to keep City in the game, colliding with Drury as the defender raced back.
There were more change as, first, Howell replaced Leven, then Elliott was sent on for City in place of Smith.
City were denied a clear penalty in the 82nd minute when Doherty tried to hook the ball back from Rudd's long kick forward and Wilbraham reached up with his right arm to palm the ball away. Referee Friend instead awarded a corner.
Powell and substitute Davis, a late replacement for Chadwick, were booked in the closing minutes and then, with one minute left, Wilbraham's trip on Johnson earned him a second yellow and, inevitably, he was shown red.
Justice was finally done as Martin drilled home the free-kick right-footed to rescue a point for the leaders.
There was still time for one more yellow card in stoppage time when Carrington tried to stop City taking a quick throw-in.
t Result: Norwich City 1, MK Dons 1
t Norwich City:Rudd; Russell Martin, Doherty, Nelson, Drury; McNamee , Smith, Russell, Lappin; Holt, Chris Martin
Subs: Steer, Spillane, Rose, Gill, Hughes, Johnson (for McNamee, 67), Elliott (for Smith, 80)
t Milton Keynes Dons: Gueret; Woodards, O'Hanlon, Powell, Lewington; Carrington, Leven, Randall; Chadwick; Easter, Wilbraham
Subs: Searle, Chicksen, Howell (for Leven, 77), Davis (for Chadwick, 85)
t Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
t Attendance: 24,888
t Goals: Norwich: Chris Martin (90). MK Dons: Wilbraham (20)
t Red card: MK Dons: Wilbraham (89)
t Bookings: Norwich: Chris Martin (37), Holt (64). MK Dons: Randall (44), Leven (45), Wilbraham (52), Chadwick (62), O'Hanlon (66), Powell (84), Davis (87), Carrington (90)