Ten-man MK Dons dropped out of the automatic promotion spots as Caolan Lavery scored in the last minute to give Chesterfield a 2-1 win at stadium:mk.
Dons never really got going on a bitterly cold Tuesday night, but found themselves ahead at the interval courtesy of a wonder strike from Lewis Baker after 28 minutes.
But a defensive howler from Jordan Spence gifted Gary Roberts the equaliser 20 minutes into the second period.
Dean Lewington was sent off with 10 minutes to go, and as Dons desperately held on, Lavery popped up in the final minute to tap home Tendayi Darikwa’s cross in the final minute to wrap it up.
Karl Robinson made three changes to the line-up which lost 2-1 to Coventry on Saturday. Carl Baker was given a rest and dropped to the bench, as did Samir Carruthers and Devante Cole. In came Lewis Baker to make his first start for MK Dons, with George Williams and Will Grigg also returning to the fray.
With all three previous games ending 1-0, there was likely to be nothing much between them. But rather than the home side making inroads into their opponents, who started the day outside the play-off spots, were very much on the front foot. And Dons were fortunate not to find themselves behind after 13 minutes when Dean Lewington was beaten on the left hand side by Tendayi Darikwa, but Caolan Lavery scooped his effort just wide.
And another Lewington mistake almost cost Dons again four minutes later as Jay O’Shea skipped across the front of the box before slipping in Gary Roberts, though his strike was only kept out by the upright.
Dons’ shaky start certainly cost them all three points against Coventry on Saturday, but they managed to ride the early storm and began to get the edge.
Lewis Baker is highly thought of at Stamford Bridge, and he showed exactly why when he rocketed Dons in front in the 28th minute. As George Williams and Ben Reeves exchanged passes at the corner, Lewis Baker hovered on the edge of the box before picking the ball up and bending it beautifully into the far corner to give Dons the lead.
They were almost architects of their own downfall though barely five minutes later when Antony Kay and Kyle McFadzean looked to usher the ball back, but keeper Ian McLoughlin wasn’t forthcoming, and under pressure from Lavery, almost gifted Chesterfield the equaliser.
George Williams’ evening was cut short just before half time as he hobbled down the tunnel holding his right thigh, but Dons fans had little to worry about as his replacement Carl Baker was involved almost immediately. Stealing the ball from Darikwa 30 yards out, he poked the ball through to Reeves who made Tommy Lee work down to his right to keep out what could have been Dons’ second. It would’ve been harsh on the visiting side to be two down at the break though.
But they should have been level two minutes into the second period when yet more defensive woe nearly cost Dons as McFadzean gave the ball to Lavery, but the striker dawdled too long, allowing McFadzean to recover and concede the corner.
Dons certainly looked intent on defending their lead, and almost invited Chesterfield to try and break them down. Neither Darren Potter nor Lewis Baker were having much of an influence on proceedings as the home side were unusually bossed in the centre of the park.
But it was a defensive howler, this time from Jordan Spence, which cost Dons the lead. Getting the ball caught up in his feet, Spence gifted the ball to Gary Roberts, who raced through, comfortably beating McLoughlin to draw level 20 minutes into the second half.
Dons were dealt another blow with ten minutes remaining when skipper Dean Lewington picked up his second booking of the evening, making no effort to avoid Gboly Ariyibi as the pair clashed.
Chesterfield flooded forward as they sought out a decisive goal. They were almost gifted it when lack of communication between McLoughlin and McFadzean almost saw the latter head into his own net.
But as the clock ticked into the 90th minute, Chesterfield got their reward. Darikwa’s cross simply wasn’t dealt with by the Dons defence, allowing Lavery to get the simplest of finishes to wrap up all three points.
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
MK Dons: McLoughlin, Lewington, Spence (Hodson 71), McFadzean, Kay, Potter, Lewis Baker (Andrews 84), Powell, Williams (Carl Baker 36), Reeves, Grigg
Subs not used: Burns, Green, Carruthers, Cole
Chesterfield: Lee, Darikwa, Hird, Morsy, Ryan, O’Shea, Roberts (Dieseruvwe 90), Clucas, Lavery (Harrison 90), Evatt, Banks (Ariyibi 62)
Subs not used: Chapman, Carter, Humphreys, Raglan
Booked: Roberts, Morsy, Spence, Lewington, Andrews
Sent off: Lewington