Shaun Williams missed a penalty as Dons’ turmoil on the road continued on Tuesday night as they were comfortably beaten 2-0 at the hands of struggling Crewe Alexandra.
On a sodden Alexandra Stadium pitch, Dons had the better of the opening exchanges, but Chucks Aneke’s free kick beat David Martin after 36 minutes to put the home side ahead.
Dons looked like they were handed a lifeline early in the second period when Harry Davis handled in the box, but Ben Garratt kept out Williams’ penalty.
AJ Leitch-Smith capitalised on Antony Kay’s deflected clearance to lash home Crewe’s second, leaving Dons staring at yet another Tuesday night away defeat.
There were two changes to the side which drew 2-2 with Bristol City on Saturday. Lee Hodson picked up a knock at Ashton Gate and was replaced by George Baldock, and Daniel Powell dropped to the bench, with Karl Robinson recalling fit-again Dele Alli.
Conditions were far from ideal at the Alexandra Stadium, as torrential rain battered down during the opening 20 minutes. Unlike on Saturday, Dons looked far more stable in defence and actually looked more threatening going forward than the home side.
Though chances were fairly slim pickings, it was Dons who had the better of them in the early exchanges, with Chris Long having a half hearted penalty appeal turned away before Samir Carruthers rattled the crossbar with a thunderous drive from just inside the penalty area.
It was all Dons for a long period of the first half, with Dele Alli in particular proving tricky to keep a leash on. Along with George Baldock, who was allowed to float inside and add to the attacks from right back, Dons carved out some good shooting chances, but found a deep Crewe defence tough to get through. Keeper Ben Garrett didn’t have an awful lot to worry about, though he had to be on his toes when Shaun Williams eyes up a free kick on the edge of the box, but his defence held firm.
But Dons’ dominance stood for nothing when Chucks Aneke bent in his 35th minute free kick to put the home side into the lead.
And it knocked the stuffing out of Dons somewhat, while firing up the home side to play much higher up the field and chase a second.
There were a few eyebrows raised among Dons supporters when, just six minutes into the second half, Robinson replaced the dangerous Alli for Dean Bowditch - until that point, Alli had looked Dons’ biggest threat.
They were handed a massive lifeline two minutes later when Harry Davis was adjudged to have handled Bowditch’s cross into the area, and referee Richard Clark pointed to the spot. But Williams, who missed his last penalty away at Wigan, could only watch on as Garratt flew right across his line, tipping the ball around the corner.
David Martin kept Dons in the tie when Byron Moore was released by Aneke - the keeper doing brilliantly to close the angle and get in a big block to keep the deficit down at one.
There was nothing he could do about AJ Leitch-Smith’s 68th minute strike though, and it came from a healthy slice of luck for the home side. Antony Kay’s clearance was blocked and fell kindly for Leitch-Smith, who slammed it home to double the lead.
Despite the 2-0 deficit, Dons actually looked the better side, particularly in midfield as they scythed through Crewe at will, but they simply didn’t test Garratt with a string of shots from the edge of the box.
And despite looking better, it was Crewe who looked the more dangerous side in front of goal, as they found kinks in Dons’ defensive armour, particularly from high balls pitched into the penalty area. Mark Ellis was unlucky not to make it 3-0 when Martin parried Aneke’s header straight to the defender, but he slipped when he went to strike, firing it wide and high from barely two yards out.
A flurry of chances came Dons’ way in stoppage time, but it was too little too late as they lost their 10th game of the season.
Referee: Richard Clark
Attendance: 3613 (133)
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Tootle, Mellor, Davis, Ellis, Leitch-Smith (Pogba 87), Moore,Inman, Evans, Aneke, Grant (Osman 81)
Subs not used: Martin, Dugdale, Ray, Guthrie, Waters
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Williams, Kay, Baldock, Potter, Gleeson, Alli (Bowditch 51), Reeves, Carruthers (Chadwick 60), Long (Powell 57)
Subs not used: Flanagan, Bowditch, Smith, McLeod, McLoughlin
Booked: Gleeson, Baldock