LEAGUE leaders Brighton were humbled at stadium:mk as Dons finally made their chances pay.
Daniel Powell scored the only goal of the game around the half hour mark as Dons dominated proceedings for 60 minutes. But Sean O’Hanlon’s second yellow 25 minutes from time made things tough as Brighton threw everything forward, but could not pass the impressive David Martin in the Dons net.
Karl Robinson named an unchanged starting line-up for the third game, but boast the attacking threats of Sam Baldock and Jabo Ibehre on the bench.
Despite the league leaders having the better of the opening five minutes, it was Dons who had the first attempt on goal. Some clever work from Marsh-Brown fed Leven on the left flank, who in turn could cut back to find Powell on the penalty spot, but the youngster’s shot on the turn was deflected, taking all the power out of the effort, which was comfortably collected by Ankergren in the Seagulls net.
This began a period of possession for Dons, which Brighton struggled to contend with. Once again, Marsh-Brown was running rings around those attempting to mark him, and nearly worked a gap for Rowan Vine to break into, but pass was just too long for the chasing front man to latch on to.
And the Fulham man wasn’t stopping there – after brushing past two players trying to stop him on the touchline, he burst into the area and curled a right footed shot goalwards, but it was too close to Ankergren who dived comfortably on it.
The Brighton stopper was called into a finger-tip save when once again Marsh-Brown found space on the edge of the area.
At the other end, Brighton striker Chris Wood missed a glorious opportunity after some great work on the byline by Ashley Barnes. Latching on to Inigo Calderon’s deep cross, Barnes sent a low ball across the face of goal, but six yards out and unmarked, Wood astonishingly missed the ball when he looked certain to score.
But after all the missed chances, Dons took the lead 27 minutes in. Ankergren saved brilliantly from first Vine, and then Powell with the follow-up, but Brighton still failed to clear. The ball popped up to O’Hanlon 10 yards out but his header hit the post, and Powell finally headed the ball into the net from close range to give the home side a deserved lead.
Dons remained on top until the half time whistle, with the league leaders creating little in retort to the home side’s pressure.
And the lead could have been doubled 30 seconds into the second half when Marsh-Brown and Vine combined to play Powell through, but his shot from a tight angle zipped across the face of goal.
Brighton then began their own spell of pressure. Glenn Murray looked favourite to pull the away side level when a long range free kick fell to him in the area, but he was beaten by the high line of Dons’ defence, and put his chance well wide anyway.
Rowan Vine was incensed that he wasn’t awarded a penalty after being tumbled in the box
David Martin then pulled off two incredible saves to keep his side ahead. After good work from Calderon on the right, he put a cross over to Wood in the centre. Towering above his marker, Wood headed powerfully goalwards which Martin could only palm away, but the follow-up looked certain to be smashed in by Wood, but Martin bravely threw himself at the shot, which he collected in his chest, receiving a standing ovation from the home fans.
Stephen Gleeson, who was really putting in the miles in the Dons midfield engine room then came close to doubling the lead when he was played through by Marsh-Brown, but Ankergren was once again a match for it.
But then Brighton were handed a huge slice of fortune. After picking up a booking in the first half, O’Hanlon’s rash challenge on Murray on the edge of the centre circle was enough for referee Carl Boyeson to show him his second yellow, reducing Dons to 10 men with 30 minutes still to play.
Brighton began to really test the Dons back line, with a number of crosses and shots from range, but Martin was proving unbeatable as he took organised from the back.
Ibehre, Hughes and Baldock were all thrown on by Robinson in the last 15 minutes as Brighton turned up the pressure in the final third.
Gleeson, not operating at right back, was the target for many of Brighton’s late attacks, with substitute Francisco Sandaza the target as they tried to make inroads. But the attacks on the flanks were not working – Martin was dominant with anything aerial, and MacKenzie towered over the forwards to quash any potential threats from range.
But try as they might, Brighton just could not get the breakthrough – a wild Wood shot in the dying seconds as close as they came to equalising.
The win, met with jubilation from the home supporters, keeps Dons in sixth, but was the just desserts for another great home performance.
Referee: Boyeson Attendance: 9,327
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, O’Hanlon, MacKenzie, Doumbe, Gleeson, Leven, Chadwick, Powell (Ibehre, 74), Marsh-Brown (Hughes, 78), Vine (Baldock, 78)
Subs not used: Searle, Stirling, Guy, Chicksen
Brighton: Ankergren, Greer, El-Abd, Bennett, Barnes (Sandaza, 54), Calderon (Sparrow, 75), Murray, Dicker, Painter (Taricco, 84), Bridcutt, Wood
Subs not used: Brezovan, Elphick, Sparrow, Baz, Holroyd
Booked: O’Hanlon, Chadwick, Greer, El-Abd
Sent off: O’Hanlon