Agard sent off as Tranmere add to Dons' woes
A Rushian Hepburn-Murphy hat-trick heaped more pressure on Dons boss Paul Tisdale as his 10-man side were beaten 3-1 by Tranmere Rovers at Stadium MK.
The game hinged on a controversial decision five minutes before half time with the match tied at 1-1, and saw Kieran Agard given his marching orders, after Hepburn-Murphy opened the scoring, only for Tranmere to be pegged back by Ben Reeves' strike.
Reduced to 10 men for the second period, Hepburn-Murphy almost scored the same goal twice to give Rovers the points.
After the ultra-defensive display against Fleetwood last week, Paul Tisdale made two changes to his side against fellow strugglers Tranmere Rovers. Regan Poole and Hiram Boateng dropped out of the side in favour of Conor McGrandles and Ben Reeves, who was making his first start for the club since he returned in the summer.
A familiar face lined up on the bench for Tranmere in the form of Darren Potter, who made over 200 appearances for Dons.
With both sides tied on 13 points and just a single point above the relegation zone, it was a vital encounter for the pair, but almost typically, Dons fell behind despite having the better of the early stages. Rushian Hepburn-Murphy netted a fairly routine opener on 18 minutes after some great build-up play from Rovers on the Dons left.
In fairness to Dons, they got straight back on the front foot but as has been the case so often recently, struggled when it came to finding a creative spark. Reeves was being stiffled in the centre of the park, there was little coming from other sources as Dons remained shot-shy in front of goal.
The pace of Hepburn-Murphy though continued to cause problems though, and his brilliant burst down the right, leaving Jordan Moore-Taylor for dust but the unmarked Connor Jennings drew a terrific save from Lee Nicholls to deny Rovers doubling the lead.
But a frantic five minutes in the run up to half time would turn the game on its head. A moment of magic from Reeves saw him work some space for himself, and picked out the bottom corner of Scott Davies' net, drawing Dons level.
But their afternoon would be made much harder when, two minutes later, Kieran Agard was adjudged to have done in studs up on Neil Danns, earning him a straight red card. Though it seemed a dubious decision, moments later, referee Matthew Donohue seemingly let Connor Jennings' elbow to Dean Lewington's face go, earning the Tranmere man a booking, and the referee the ire of the home supporters.
And despite a lively start to the second period, Dons found themselves trailing once more nine minutes after the restart. Jennings, who arguably shouldn't have been on the pitch, fizzed a ball into the feet Hepburn-Murphy on the edge of the box, and his turn and shot flew past Nicholls to restore Tranmere's lead.
Things went from bad to worse for Dons when Hepburn-Murphy then completed his hat-trick with 21 minutes to go, securing the points for Tranmere.
Referee: Matthew Donohue
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams (Poole 73), Moore-Taylor, Walsh, Brittain, Lewington, Houghton (Cargill 73), Gilbey, McGrandles, Reeves (Asonganyi 67), Agard
Subs not used: Moore, Martin, Boateng, Harley
Tranmere: Davies, Ridehalgh, Nelson, Monthe, Morris, Jennings, Caprice (Blackett-Taylor 54), Perkins, Hepburn-Murphy (Mullin 82), Wilson, Danns
Subs not used: Pilling, Ray, Potter, Maddox, Borthwick-Jackson
Booked: Jennings, Monthe, Walsh, McGrandles
Sent off: Agard