MK Dons narrowly missed out on a point against Bournemouth as the south coast side just stole the edge with a 3-2 victory at Dean Court.
Dean Lewington again proved to be a big miss for Karl Robinson’s men in defence, missing out through injury while Sean O’ Hanlon skippered. O’ Hanlon led from the heart of the defence with a captain’s example, and looked to have set the Dons on their way to three points on the stroke of half time with a powerful header from the far post to send his team in 1-0 up at the break.
Despite heading down the tunnel at the interval with the lead, the Dons had looked somewhat under pressure without the crucial Lewington at left back and had faced a fight to contain Bournemouth’s speedy attack. Nineteen year-old Adam Smith, on loan from Tottenham had the chance to open the scoring for the home side after just seven minutes, shooting wide after an optimistic long range shot.
Eddie Howe appeared ready to shake things up for Bournemouth after the break, bringing off Marvin Bartley and replacing him with Steve Fletcher, who shone for them in an outstanding second half performance.
Both sides had looked reasonably threatening in the opening 45, but whilst the Dons will have hoped to kill the game off in an enthralling second period, it wasn’t long before they were pegged back.
Marc Pugh’s extraordinary shot from 30 yards found its way towards goal and hit against Danny Hollands - Hollands’ deflection knocked the ball into the back of the net, with David Martin left helpless in the MK goal.
The Dons then struggled to restrain a rampant Bournemouth, the only Dons chance for a phase falling to star striker Sam Baldock, who poked wide.
And just ten minutes later they were left to rue that missed opportunity as Anton Robinson headed newly promoted Bournemouth in front – Pugh again was the provider as Martin failed to clear an in- swinging corner, and Robinson seized the chance to put Bournemouth 2-1 ahead.
Substitute Jabo Ibehre looked lively after coming on, and it seemed as though he might grab an equaliser for the Dons. But things were to get much worse for Karl Robinson’s side, as Pugh’s efforts throughout the match were finally rewarded with a goal, the midfielder firing home a blistering header to steer the game in Bournemouth’s favour and put the icing on the cake for the Cherries.
However, after his earlier goal scoring heroics, Hollands turned from hero to villain, giving away a penalty after sending Mathias Kouo-Doumbe tumbling to the floor. Peter Leven converted the spot-kick to set up a nervous last four minutes as a surprise comeback looked to be on the cards. It was not to be though for the Dons as the final whistle signalled the continuation of their miserable away run this season.
Yet more salt was to be poured into the Dons’ wounds though as Angelo Balanta saw red in the final seconds of the game for a frenzied scuffle involving both he and Rhoys Wiggins which referee Roger East opted to send the Colombian off for.
Karl Robinson was given a selection headache for next week against Exeter City as Dietmar Hamann could only manage 34 minutes before hobbling off with an injury. Balanta will also miss the next three games after his dismissal, and Leven will miss out against City after being booked for dissent.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.