THREE wonder-strikes saw MK Dons fall to only their second home defeat of the season at the hands of Plymouth Argyle.
After a quiet start, left-back Onismor Bhasera collected Peter Leven’s loose pass to run 30 yards and fire past David Martin, before Kari Arnason doubled the lead from fully 40 yards out. Dons got a foothold in the game before the break through a Bhasera own goal, but Chris Clark’s strike 10 minutes from time was enough to ensure Argyle left stadium:mk with a 3-1 victory.
Karl Robinson named an unchanged team from the one that beat Tranmere at the weekend, though Mathias Doumbe sported a bandage around his head after his clash with Enoch Showunmi which forced him off on Saturday.
Despite Plymouth’s low league position, 17th at the start of play, they were just six points behind Dons having lost three in a row. But it was evident from kick-off that both sides were feeling each other out, with both cagey going forward – a wild Yannick Bolasie shot the only effort to speak of in the opening 20 minutes.
But that all changed in the 22nd minute when Peter Leven gave away possession on halfway, allowing Argyle to break three-on-two, but Onismor Bhasera didn’t need any help as he lashed home from just outside the box to give the visitors the lead.
David Martin tipped Joe Mason’s effort just around the post a minute later, and Leven made up for his earlier mistake by clearing Stephane Zubar’s deflected shot off the line from the resultant corner as Dons held on.
But there was nothing Dons could have done about what happened next. Collecting the ball 40 yards out, Kari Arnason turned towards goal and unleashed a spectacular shot which flew over Martin and into the top corner of his net to double Argyle’s lead – and deserved it was too.
But with seven minutes before the break, Dons were back in the game with their first real effort on goal. Chadwick burst through the middle of the park, and with the outside of his boot, looked as though he picked out Lewis Guy. But the former Doncaster man cleverly let the ball run through his legs to the oncoming Danny Woodards, and his cross was cruelly deflected past keeper David Button by Argyle’s goalscorer Bhasera to pull the deficit back to one.
Half time couldn’t come quick enough for Plymouth as they faced three corners in stoppage time, and hearts were surely in their mouths when Ibehre’s header was cleared off the line by man-of-the-moment Bhasera as the referee blew his whistle.
Argyle came out flying in the second half, but the excellent Martin kept his team in it with a brilliant double-save first from Bolasie and then from the feet of Mason with the follow up.
Dons too enjoyed a spell of pressure which saw MacKenzie inches away from goalward headers on two occasions as the home side went in search of the equaliser.
In Dons best move of the match, Woodards attacked down the flank and crossed, but it was deflected neatly into the path of Stephen Gleeson, though his spinning volley wasn’t troubling Button as it sailed over his crossbar.
Rowan Vine was once again introduced on the hour, in place of the unusually quiet Luke Chadwick.
Two long injuries to Gary MacKenzie and Mathias Doumbe took the wind out of Dons’ sails just after the hour mark, and Plymouth nearly took advantage when Bolasie beat Martin to Jim Paterson’s cross, but his effort was off target.
But the game was killed off with ten minutes to play. Zubar and Bolasie linked up well for the former to put across an innocuous cross from the byline, which evaded everyone except Chris Clark on the edge of the area to lash into Martin’s net for 3-1.
Robinson was forced into two quick substitutes after the two injuries to his centre halves, with Adam Chicksen and Sean O’Hanlon replacing them at the back.
Knowing there’d be a lot of stoppage time, Dons continued to surge forward but Button was never challenged.
Defeat sees Dons remain sixth in the table, but they have now played two more than many of t he chasing pack. They will look to return to winning ways on Saturday with a trip to relegation battlers Dagenham & Redbridge.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham Attendance: 7,189
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington (c), Doumbe (Chicksen, 78), MacKenzie (O’Hanlon, 81), Woodards, Gleeson, Leven, Guy, Powell, Chadwick (Vine, 61), Ibehre.
Subs not used: Searle, Carrington, Hamann, G Baldock
Plymouth: Button, Fletcher (c), Clark, Arnason, Bhasera (Paterson, 45), Mason (Patterson, 90), Seip, Nelson, Bolasie, Fallon, Zubar
Subs not used: Larrieu, Duguid, N’Gala, Peterlin, Stephens