MK Dons were beaten 1-0 by Sunderland as they slipped to a first home loss in four games at stadium mk.
Lynden Gooch curled the away side in front during the second half of the game. The Dons largely struggled to create opportunities in the second period after a bright opening period, as the away side held out to take the win.
The result means back-to-back losses overall for Russell Martin’s side after the midweek reverse at Burton Albion, and with AFC Wimbledon beating Peterborough, it means the Dons drop one place to 20th, although they maintain a 3 point lead on Tranmere after the Merseyside club lost at home to Ipswich.
After picking up one point from back-to-back away games at Coventry and Burton, the Dons arrived looking to pick up a fourth straight home win.
Their opponents to achieve this were a Sunderland side who arrived with 6 games unbeaten and in contention for the play-off positions.
MK Dons’ starting line-up featured Dean Lewington, for his 750th appearance for the club, and a late pick for David Kasumu, who stepped up after original selection Alex Gilbey suffered an injury in the warm-up.
The first full chance was for the away side, as Chris Maguire saw an attempt from distance fly over.
MK Dons were seeing plenty of the ball in the opening stages but then came very close to falling behind. Luke O’Nien was first to a free-kick and his diving header across the box was aimed at 3 Sunderland players waiting at the back post, but none of them could turn it on target.
The home side began to come into the contest more after that. Conor McGrandles had a half-chance when his cross-shot at a corner was blocked. Much closer was Rhys Healey, who was set away by Carlton Morris and saw a low strike just fizz across goal and out.
Healey and Joe Mason would see further attempts blocked as the Dons tried to probe a way through. But despite the possession, the home side were lacking the killer pass to create chances.
Sunderland had an opportunity when defender Joel Lynch had a header saved at a free-kick, but their attacking players were fairly quiet in the opening period.
The away side were much busier in the opening stages of the second half. After Maguire saw a volley go over, the away side had their best attempt when Lee Nicholls couldn’t get onto a through-ball. However, Callum Brittain and George Williams were able to go back on the line and deny Gooch and Charlie Wyke respectively.
O’Nien would also see two attempts go off target as the away side looked the more comfortable immediately after the restart. A good chance also fell the way of Maguire, with Nicholls called upon to tip wide his free-kick.
Having largely been on the back foot, MK Dons did have a chance when Healey saw an effort from outside the box saved by Jon McLaughlin.
O’Nien hit the side-netting at a free-kick, before MK Dons then nearly struck when Lewington flashed a strike from range just wide.
The game was beginning to become more even, with both sides seeing half chances come and go as the two teams attempted to find a way through.
Sunderland threw on Kyle Lafferty off the bench, and the Northern Irishman came close with a lofted strike over.
But a few moments after that, the away side got the game’s opener. It fell for Gooch, who was able to make himself space before placing a lofted effort out of the reach of Nicholls and into the top corner.
A half-chance saw Joe Walsh meet a corner but flick his header off target. Also inaccurate was Sunderland’s Alim Ozturk, who was unmarked at the back post when found by a deflected knockdown at an away free-kick only to head over.
MK Dons would have a number of set pieces in the final stages, but ultimately there was no way through for the home side as they slip to a first home defeat since losing to Rotherham in late November.
MK Dons: Nicholls – Brittain, Williams, Walsh, Lewington – McGrandles (Gladwin 73), Houghton, Kasumu (Thompson 64) – Mason, Morris (Nombe 82), Healey
Subs not used: Moore, Poole, Cargill, Moore-Taylor
Sunderland: J. McLaughlin – Willis, Ozturk, Lynch – O’Nien, Power, Dobson, Hume – Maguire, Wyke (Lafferty 77), Gooch
Subs not used: Burge, C. McLaughlin, McNulty, Flanagan, Watmore, Leadbitter
Goal: Gooch (79)
Booked: Dobson, Ozturk