MATCH REPORT: Doncaster Rovers 2 MK Dons 1 - Second-half double downs Dons

Chuks Aneke gave MK Dons an early lead
Chuks Aneke gave MK Dons an early lead

MK Dons squandered a half-time lead against Doncaster Rovers, as Matty Blair's strike condemned them to an infuriating defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium.

The first half was as good as anything they've produced this season, after they flew out of the blocks with Chuks Aneke's goal giving them the perfect start.

It's no exaggeration that Dons could have been 4-0 up with just a quarter of the game gone, with Doncaster goalkeeper Ian Lawlor deserving credit for keeping his side in it with a string of saves.

But the bottom line is Robbie Neilson's side failed to take advantage of their hosts being at sixes and sevens and paid the ultimate price after they eventually came to their senses.

After seeing the game turned on its head, there was no way back this time for Dons, who fell to their first league defeat in five games, having ridden their luck in the pask week.

After the line-up against Southend had a somewhat depleted look to it in midweek, Neilson was able to welcome back George Williams, Ed Upson and Ethan Ebanks-Landell.

Joe Walsh, Callum Brittain and Aiden Nesbitt stepped aside as a result, while Conor McGrandles started in place of Gboly Ariyibi, who had replaced from the bench at half-time on Tuesday.

The reinforcements had an instant impact, as in the third minute a cross from Williams wasn't properly cleared and fell nicely for Aneke.

There was still plenty to do for the attacker on the edge of the area, but he made it look easy in controlling the ball before quickly rifling a shot into the bottom corner.

Some more uncertainty at the back led to the Dons being awarded a free kick just outside the box, with Upson's low effort pushed away by Lawlor.

The former Manchester City stopper was keeping his side in the game at this point, as he denied Aneke twice in a matter of seconds with the Rovers defence all at sea - all this in the first 15 minutes.

You were starting to wonder if the visitors were going to regret not making the most of these early gifts, not least when awful clearing header by Andy Butler fell to Scott Golbourne, whose volley hit the inside of the post.

Chances didn't come quite as freely for the rest of the half, with Kieran Agard unable to take advantage of beating Lawlor to a loose ball, as Doncaster were able to cover their 'keeper.

Having had several openings to extend their lead, the Dons would have furious in losing it to such a soft goal from a set-piece eight minutes into the second half.

It came as James Coppinger's corner floated through to Butler, whose header towards goal was bundled in by John Marquis from right on the line and suddenly the mood among the home fans changed.

In fairness, it had been an improved showing from Doncaster following the restart, in contrast to a first period where they very much looked like a side struggling just outside the drop zone.

But now they were the ones first to loose balls, with Ben Whiteman's powerful effort from the edge of the area thankfully straight at Lee Nicholls.

Against the run of play, however, they almost restored their lead when McGrandles' cross picked out Agard, whose header was brilliantly kept out by Lawlor.

With 20 minutes left, Dons fell behind as Alfie Beestin received the ball in space in the area before feeding a pass inside for fellow sub Blair, who shot between Nicholls' legs to score.

Having got the lead, Doncaster began to sit back, but after starting the afternoon by manufacturing chances at will, the visitors closed it with their creativity deserted them.

Match facts

Doncaster Rovers (4-2-3-1): Lawlor, Mason, Wright, Butler, Garratt, Whiteman (Baudry 90), Houghton (Blair 64), Kongolo (Beestin 45), Coppinger, Rowe, Marquis

Subs not used: Marosi, Blair, Mandeville, Ben Khemis, Baudry, Toffolo

MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Nicholls, Williams, Wootton, Ebanks-Landell, Golbourne, Upson (Seager 73), McGrandles (Nesbitt 78), Pawlett, Aneke, Gilbey, Agard (Thomas-Asante 73)

Subs not used: Walsh, Ariyibi, Siestma, Brittain

Referee: Eddie Ilderton

Attendance: 7,743 (268 away)