MK Dons lost 2-1 to Northampton Town at Sixfields, in a result that lifts the Cobblers out of the bottom 4 and puts the Dons into the drop zone.

The game’s winning goal was scored by Chris Long in the final moments of the first half, after Alex Gilbey had cancelled out John-Joe O’Toole’s opener. MK Dons would also have Chuks Aneke sent off in added time following a fracas.

The result is Northampton’s third straight win, and lifts them out of the relegation zone. By contrast, a third straight game without a win for MK Dons puts the visitors into the relegation zone for the first time this season, with the visitors dropping to 21st after both this result and victory for AFC Wimbledon over Blackpool.

While MK Dons had the better of the opening exchanges, with Gilbey having a shot deflected wide, Northampton took the lead after 16 minutes. O’Toole scored the goal as he received Joe Bunney’s cross before flicking a shot past Lee Nicholls and in.

The Dons weren’t behind for long, as Osman Sow outmuscled Ash Taylor before cueing up Gilbey to fire a half volley into the back of the net.

MK Dons had chances to take the lead, with Richard O’Donnell pulling off saves to keep out Osman Sow and Callum Brittain. But it was the hosts who would strike in the final moments of the first half, as Long sent Sam Hoskins’ pull-back past Nicholls.

While Peter Pawlett fired wide early shortly after the re-start, Northampton came closer to a second with a few clearances going just wide while Hildeberto Pereira had a shot denied by Nicholls and Matt Crooks hit a drive just wide.

A late flurry saw the Dons have more sights of goal, with O’Donnell making late stops to keep out George Williams, Aneke and substitute Kieran Agard.

Aneke was then dismissed for his part in a scuffle at the award of a free-kick to MK Dons, before O’Donnell pulled off a stop to keep out debutant Marcus Tavernier in the final act of the game as the home side took the points and the place outside the dropzone.