MK Dons extended their winless run to 10 matches in League One after they were beaten by Bristol Rovers at stadium:mk.
A tight first half saw both sides press, but it was Rovers who would break the deadlock in the early moments of the second period. Ellis Harrison struck the goal that put Bristol Rovers in front.
On a bitterly cold day in Buckinghamshire, the Dons tried to find their way back into the contest, but struggled to break down the Bristol Rovers defence, and ultimately sunk to defeat. The result means the Dons are now 6 points from safety after Oldham won at Scunthorpe in one of the only other League One matches to go ahead.
After back to back away draws against teams down with MK Dons, Dan Micciche’s side now had a run of 4 home matches out of 5 to pick up desperately needed points.
Following an effort to make the ground ready to host the game that included volunteers clearing the stands, the Dons’ match was one of the only League One matches not to fall victim to the recent bad weather.
The fans were almost rewarded very early on, as a defender’s block denied Robbie Muirhead from turning in a cross inside the opening minute, before Callum Brittain prodded wide at a corner.
The Dons were on the front foot in the initial stages of proceedings, with their best attempts coming from distance. Those efforts fell for Muirhead, who saw one effort from range go over the top, and another volleyed shot go wide.
Bristol Rovers began the game slowly, but as the half wore on they began to creep into things. Kyle Bennett saw an effort blocked by Elliott Ward in an initial flash of danger. Much closer was Liam Sercombe, who received a cut-back from Byron Moore, and saw his low drive well blocked by Lee Nicholls.
This was the cue for Rovers to take the cue, with MK Dons beginning to look shaky defensively as the half progressed. However, Rovers were struggling to capitalise, with the best effort seeing full-back Joe Partington head wide at a corner.
MK Dons then saw a moment of controversy, as Muirhead was denied a penalty. For his protests, Ousseynou Cisse was booked, but the Dons were left aggrieved by the decision.
Bristol Rovers nearly compounded the misery for the hosts, as Nicholls was called into action to deny Sercombe for a second time. The attacking midfielder received Ellis Harrison’s cut-back and came close but was denied by the keeper’s fine diving stop.
It would be the visitors who would strike first. Chris Lines intercepted an errant midfield pass and set away Harrison, who advanced before hitting a swerving angled drive that deceived Nicholls and flew in below the bar.
The Dons did look to provide a response, with their best chances falling to George Williams at set-pieces. The defender saw one effort go over the bar, and a second denied by Sam Slocombe.
As the half progressed, Rovers began to shut the game down, but the Dons nearly got back in spectacular fashion, as Muirhead’s first time drive was acrobatically tipped away by Slocombe.
But despite having the ball, Rovers were able to run down the clock for the most part. The Dons’ best chance saw a low Chuks Aneke drive either zip past the wrong side of the post or fail to connect with Kieran Agard. It ultimately added to a defeat for the Dons, who are still without a League One victory in 2018.
MK Dons: Nicholls – Ward, Wootton, Lewington – Williams, Brittain (Nesbitt 85), Cisse (Upson 56), Tymon (Agard 76) – Muirhead, Aneke, Ugbo
Subs not used: Sietsma, Sow, McGrandles, Jackson
Booked: Cisse, Brittain, Aneke
Bristol Rovers: Slocombe – Partington, Lockyer, Craig, Brown – Russe (Sweeney 75), Lines – Moore (Clarke 66), Sercombe, Bennett (Gaffney 66) – Harrison
Subs not used: Smith, Nichols, Telford, Mensah
Goal: Harrison (50)