Two spectacular Burnley goals saw MK Dons suffer their third defeat in a row on Tuesday night as they went down 2-1 at Turf Moor.
Andre Gray wasted two one-on-ones before Sam Vokes’ rasping shot beat David Martin all ends up after 32 minutes, though Dons had arguably shaded it until then.
But on the stroke of half time Carl Baker equalised for the visitors, scoring their first league goal since August 18.
Burnley though would seal the points with a sensational George Boyd volley four minutes into the second period as Dons slid further down the table to 16th.
Having hit the post with his first touch against Middlesbrough on Saturday, Simon Church started up front at Turf Moor, replacing Sam Gallagher who struggled to make an impact at the Riverside. Josh Murphy and Daniel Powell, similarly ineffective at the weekend, also dropped to the bench with Carl Baker and Rob Hall taking over on the flanks.
Burnley, relegated from the Premier League last season, boasted £9 million striker Andre Gray starting up front, while former Dons loanee Chris Long was on the bench for the Clarets.
The visitors, despite their lack of goals of late, looked arguably the more potent side in the opening 20 minutes as they quickly popped the ball around and looked lively in the midfield. Rob Hall, Samir Carruthers and Dean Bowditch were playing neat, one-touch stuff to move forwards, but the key ball was often just out of Church’s reach as he hovered with intent.
But Burnley proved just how deadly they could be when, against the run of play, Gray raced beyond Kyle McFadzean to latch onto Sam Vokes’ chip over the top. His strike though was straight at David Martin, who reacted quickly to close the angle.
They squandered two more great chances, with Michael Keane heading David Jones’ corner over, and Gray again beating McFadzean for pace but not Martin.
Burnley wouldn’t be denied much longer though as Sam Vokes bent in a wonderful strike from the edge of the box, beating Martin’s out-stretched right hand as it sailed into the corner after 32 minutes.
The goal didn’t perturb Dons though and they continued to force the issue at the other end. Despite George Boyd having one cleared off the line by Diego Poyet, Dons shaded the remainder of the half without really creating anything.
Just as it looked as though Burnley would take their lead into the break, Carl Baker latched on to Carruthers’ cross to head in Dons’ first league goal in nearly a month.
But parity would be broken again just four minutes into the second half, and it was yet another spectacular finish to beat Martin. Tendayi Darikwa’s cross from the right went high and deep to the far post, and George Boyd lurked underneath. Watching it onto his left toe, Boyd unleashed a cracking volley into the bottom corner to restore Burnley’s advantage.
Again though, Dons continued to play the better football. Poyet, at the heart of everything, was barking orders left and right, while Carruthers tried to spark things with a sprinkle of creativity, though too often it ended by giving the ball away needlessly.
Burnley continued to shade the chances though, with Boyd and Michael Duff both having efforts deflected over the bar as Dons defended stoutly, but failed to fire themselves as Tom Heaton remained untested.
Seemingly comfortable, Sean Dyche withdrew Vokes and Gray from active duty for the closing stages, though the introduction of Sam Gallagher, Josh Murphy and Daniel Powell did little to spark any chances for Dons, though Baker’s quick feet nearly teed up Gallagher awaiting at the far post only for it to be swiped from under him.
Heaton finally got his shirt dirty with the final piece of action, when Baker danced through once more, only to see his shot-come-cross well dealt with by the stopper’s flying fist.
The defeat, Dons’ third in as many games, sees them slip to 16th in the table, with Leeds the visitors to stadium:mk on Saturday.
Referee: Kevin Wright
Attendance: 15845 (166)
Burnley: Heaton (c), Darikwa, Duff, Keane, Mee, Boyd, Jones, Arfield, Kightly (Taylor 85), Vokes (Hennings 75), Gray (Long 79)
Subs not used: Gilks, Ward, Lowton, Anderson
MK Dons: Martin, Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington (c), Carruthers, Poyet, Bowditch (Powell 82), Hall (Murphy 68), Baker, Church (Gallagher 74)
Subs not used: Burns, Hodson, Upson, Aguza
Booked: Carruthers, Poyet, Kay