Dons’ disastrous away form continued with an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Carlisle.
Karl Robinson’s men seemingly can’t buy a win at the moment - add to the mix their terrible away form and the loss of their two top scorers in January, and they are left with a diminishing play-off dream which grows more pie-in-the-sky every week.
They even looked the better side for the opening half hour at Brunton Park, but Lee Miller started the snowball with seven minutes of the first half remaining, before Brad Potts slid in a second four minutes later. David Amoo’s second half header put the game well beyond reach.
There were two changes from the side which played seven days earlier at Crewe. With Shaun Williams leaving the club for Championship side Millwall, Tom Flanagan was call back for his first game since the reverse fixture back in October. Lee Hodson returned at right back, replacing George Baldock.
Carlisle haven’t had the best of seasons, and found themselves in 19th at the start of play. And with Dons’ woeful Tuesday night record of five wins in 28 under Karl Robinson, it didn’t look like a thriller was on the cards.
The opening 10 minutes went true to form too. Carlisle had more of the ball but couldn’t get the ball beyond the edge of the penalty area. They did threaten when Dean Lewington’s ball to no-one was picked up by Lee Miller, but he was tripped by his own man David Amoo 20 yards out, allowing the Dons skipper to recover and clear.
Chris Long had Dons’ only chance in the opening quarter of an hour. Running the reverse on Courtney Meppen-Walter, his touch took him too wide to harbour a chance of netting, but his strike still caused keeper Greg Fleming down low to keep it out with his feet.
Dons looked fairly comfortable out of possession. Carlisle’s preferred approach was for Tom Lawrence to take on Hodson on the Dons right, but the full-back looked to have the upper hand. Flanagan too looked far more settled than in his handful of appearances earlier in the season, marshalled by Antony Kay alongside him.
In the absence of Shaun Williams, Ben Reeves appeared to be the man to take over the duties from set pieces. Now the club’s leading scorer, Reeves lined up a 30-yard attempt, but it was too far out to cause any problem for Fleming, as he rolled comfortably to his left to scoop it up.
Carlisle crafted the best two chances of the first 30 minutes though, but neither Sean O’Hanlon nor Brad Potts were able to hit the target with their efforts.
Long was beginning to get more involved in the game as the half wore on, and he forced a fine stop from Fleming with a powerful drive from 18 yards out - the keeper had to be on his toes to get across to it.
But Dons’ away day nightmares reared their ugly heads seven minutes before the interval. After a soft free kick was conceded 25 yards out, James Berrett took a chance and blasted the ball into the packed area, where Miller was able to steer the ball past Martin, giving the home side the lead.
And they hit Dons with another sucker punch four minutes later when Amoo beat Gleeson for pace down the Carlisle right, and slid the ball across the face of goal for Potts to slide it in, doubling the advantage.
Robinson rolled the dice at the break, replacing Dele Alli and Samir Carruthers with George Baldock and Daniel Powell. It made little difference in Dons’ attacking prowess and they soon found themselves 3-0 down when Amoo nodded home Berrett’s corner at the near post.
The rest of the game played out as a formality. Dons passed neatly, but ultimately it meant nothing with the scoreline reading the way it did. The introduction of Dean Bowditch added some much needed drive, but even his quick feet and tenacity couldn’t bring about a decent chance for the visitors as the home side seemed intent to absorb what little pressure Dons created.
Bowditch managed to round Fleming in the final minute of the game, but slipped at the vital moment allowing the keeper to recover and prevent Dons from even a consolation goal to take home with them.
Referee: David Coote
Attendance: 3,007 (103)
Carlisle: Fleming, Chimbonda, O’Hanlon, Meppen-Walter, Robson, Potts, Noble, Barrett, Amoo (Dempsey 84), Miller (Drennan 76), Lawrence (Symington 90)
Subs not used: Bouzanis, Livesey, Buaben, Guy
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Hodson, Kay, Flanagan, Gleeson, Potter, Alli (Baldock 45), Carruthers (Powell 45), Reeves, Long (Bowditch 60)
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Chadwick, Smith, McLeod