Huddersfield twice came from behind to inflict MK Dons' first league defeat of the season in a five-goal thriller at stadiummk.
Antony Kay's header 12 minutes from time secured a first away success for Lee Clark's men in a game that exploded into life after half-time. Jemal Johnson's crashing drive gave Paul Ince's Dons a spectacular lead on 47 minutes before the impressive Jordan Rhodes hauled Huddersfield level.
Jermaine Easter's seventh goal of the season restored the Dons' lead within minutes, but Theo Robinson levelled immediately and allowed Kay to win it shortly after. A wonderful game nearly got the grandstand finish it deserved as the Dons went in desperate search of the equaliser that would have preserved their unbeaten start, but substitute Lewis Gobern saw a deflected shot hit the crossbar before Mathias Doumbe's follow-up was somehow kept out.
To call it a brilliant advert for League 1 would be patronising to a division many are starting to recognise as the strongest it has been for years. But the approach of both sides - passing football, played at high tempo, with real creativity - suggested it could certainly be a battle for the football purists. Ironic then, that it should be some defending of Carry On proportions that nearly brought about the opening goal. Johnson tried to nip in behind Lee Peltier from the Dons left and when Peter Clarke came across to assist his full-back, his smashed clearance came straight back off Peltier and forced a brilliant, instinctive save from goalkeeper Alex Smithies.
The lively Johnson had clearly unsettled Peltier in the opening stages and when the Dons winger suspiciously outmuscled his man inside the box on 11 minutes, only a combination of an impossible angle and Smithies' right shoulder prevented him making the breakthrough. Huddersfield were not about to be overwhelmed though - the multi-million pound investment in the Terriers squad over the last eight months has hardly created a team that rolls over - and Dons skipper Dean Lewington had to be alert to deny Rhodes with a goal-saving challenge inside the area on 22 minutes.
The home side lost full-back Danny Woodards halfway through the first half to injury, meaning Howell was forced to switch from midfield to right-back and Mark Carrington was introduced off the bench. The two sides were beginning to cancel each other out though - the first half turning tactical with both teams building patiently but ultimately unable to unlock the door. That soon changed after the break though, as Johnson gave up the search for the key and brutally kicked Huddersfield's down.
Howell started the move from right-back, driving forward to find Easter before Puncheon fed Johnson on the left. Tested down the outside throughout the first half, Peltier opted to show Johnson inside and the American obliged with a thumping 20-yard drive that speared past Smithies and inside the near post.
It was another to add to the scrapbook for Johnson, whose collection of goals in a Dons shirt is like a sniper's guide to goalscoring. Rarely does the American score tap-ins. What followed was the most crucial spell of the game as, with Huddersfield reeling, the Dons passed up the chance to put the game beyond them. Ince was left visibly seething on 51 minutes when Puncheon sent Johnson into the inside right channel. With the angle deteriorating, Johnson opted not to shoot, but to pull-back for Easter arriving behind him and, though the idea was clever, Smithies cut it out when he could have been picking it out of his net.
The Terriers 'keeper then had to push a Puncheon cross off the head of Luke Chadwick before Puncheon himself saw a long-range effort saved. Then came the madness. Anthony Pilkington reloaded a cleared corner into the box and when Andy Butler's knockdown got stuck between David McCracken and Clarke, Rhodes got in the scramble before sweeping past Willy Gueret.
Dons reacted superbly though and were back in front within minutes as Johnson's corner from the left was only cleared as far as Puncheon, whose attempted shot was reeled in by the in-form Easter and tucked past Smithies from six yards. But for all the money invested in their team, character is a priceless commodity and Huddersfield showed plenty of it as they fought back once more.
Rhodes showed great awareness to head Joe Skarz's ball forward into the path of substitute Gary Roberts, whose cross from the left was won by Pilkington in the middle and slammed home by the waiting Robinson. Having come back twice, the visitors started to look the more likely and after Rhodes had hit the bar with a dipping volley from 20 yards, Kay completed their comeback.
Drinkwater's floated corner drew Gueret towards it, but with Rhodes' block on Howell creating space at the near post, Kay beat everyone to the ball to steer home the winner. Dons will wonder how they failed to snatch a point in the closing stages as Lewington's drive was nearly fumbled into his own net by Smithies.
The Terriers 'keeper followed that up by pushing Gobern's deflected shot onto the bar, diverting the rebound away from the prowling Easter and then somehow pushing Doumbe's follow-up over. Tough to take for Ince's Dons, who will play a lot worse and win this season, but they've proved they can mix it with the big hitters.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Gueret; Woodards (Carrington 27 (Gobern 80)), Doumbe, McCracken, Lewington (c); Gleeson, Howell; Chadwick (Ibehre 80), Puncheon, Johnson; Easter.
Subs not used: Searle, Davis, Leven, Swailes. Goals: Johnson 47, Easter 58. Booked: Howell, Easter, Gobern.
Huddersfield Town (4-4-2): Smithies; Peltier, P. Clarke (c), Butler, Skarz; Drinkwater, Collins (Roberts 57), Kay, Pilkington; Robinson, Rhodes (Simpson 86). Subs not used: Glennon, N. Clarke, Novak, Berrett, Ainsworth.
Goals: Rhodes 55, Robinson 60, Kay 78. Booked: Pilkington, Rhodes, Clarke.
Attendance: 9,772 (1,336 away)
Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)