MK Dons’ tough start to 2019 continued after a 3-2 loss at home to Swindon Town, with the team falling out of the play-off spots as a result.
Michael Doughty put Swindon ahead after the away side had the measure of the game’s opening half.
Jake Hesketh struck a fine equaliser for MK Dons just before the hour, only for Keshi Anderson to respond with a delightful strike of his own to immediately put the away side back in front.
Doughty then scored his second with a penalty to make the Dons’ task much harder. They did get one back through Kieran Agard, but it was not enough to prevent a defeat.
The result continues a tough opening to 2019 for the Dons, who lose for the 5th time in 6 in 2019, and slip out of the play-off spots as a direct consequence.
With just one win since the New Year’s Day thumping of Cambridge, MK Dons needed a tonic after Paul Tisdale endured a return to forget at his former club Exeter.
A reshuffled starting pack included a full debut for deadline day arrival Jake Hesketh. But it was the visitors who would begin with greater control.
The first major chances would fall for the visitors, who had early running and would see a half-chance for Doughty blocked, before a further effort had to be kept out by Lee Nicholls.
Kaiyne Woolery then saw a deflected effort tipped wide, with Nicholls also denying Doughty’s low-range shot at the resulting corner.
MK Dons began to show more intent after that, with Agard seeing a drive saved by Lawrence Vigouroux after he had inadvertently blocked Chuks Aneke’s initial drive.
This then saw the visitors come closer, as Theo Robinson and Tom Broadbent came close at two corners in quick succession.
It was the visitors who would then ultimately strike first, and with a goal that MK Dons had as much involvement in. Jordan Houghton was dispossessed midway inside his half, allowing Doughty to pick the ball up, advance, and then almost pass it beyond a static Nicholls into the bottom corner.
MK Dons did try to break through after as Alex Gilbey had a shot blocked and another saved. Swindon would come close as well, however, with a bending drive by Woolery going wide before Robinson lost his man to meet a cross but headed wide.
The Dons had the first big chance of the second period, as Hesketh went on a fine run before slotting through Aneke, who saw a shot just clawed behind by Vigouroux.
Swindon broke quickly from the consequent series of corners, as Woolery saw a drive beaten away by Nicholls, before a looping Gilbey header was caught by Vigouroux as the game began to open up.
The Dons were showing much more going forward, with Hesketh having a shot blocked, Ryan Watson seeing a punted volley saved and Gilbey lashing over. Swindon remained dangerous, with a decent try from Woolery deflected away.
The home side then levelled just shy of the hour. A fast move saw Hesketh exchange passes with Agard, before firing a thunderbolt into the top corner for his first goal for the club.
Swindon would duly respond with a spectacular goal of their own. Less than a minute after Hesketh’s equaliser, Anderson was able to collect the ball and saw a flying drive of his own zip beyond Nicholls and in.
Gilbey had the best attempt at a quickfire response when he had a drive saved by Vigouroux, but the Dons’ task would then get bigger when they fell further behind.
A foul by Russell Martin on Woolery as Swindon broke was given as a penalty, and from 12 yards, Doughty’s chip deceived Nicholls and extended the away side’s lead.
It looked as though the game was set to peter out, although Vigouroux had to make a fine flying save to keep out Aneke’s piledriver.
The visitors did then get a goal back, as a flying ball forward picked out Agard, who lost the backline and slipped in a nice finish.
But the Dons couldn’t get another goal as the game went through five minutes of stoppages, with the best chance seeing substitute David Wheeler head wide, and end up with a further defeat.
MK Dons: Nicholls – Martin, Walsh, Cargill – Watson, Gilbey, Houghton (Wheeler 58), Lewington – Hesketh (Walker 79) – Agard, Aneke
Subs not used: Moore, Baudry, Cisse, McGrandles, Harley
Goal: Hesketh (59), Agard (88)
Booked: Aneke, Martin
Swindon: Vigouroux – Knoyle, Conroy, Broadbent, Taylor (Koiki 26) – McCourt, Rose (Dunne 62), Doughty (Carroll 82) – Wooley, Robinson, Anderson
Subs not used: McCormick, Richards, House, Bennett
Goal: Doughty (34, pen 72), Anderson (60)