MK Dons struck twice late-on to get back to winning ways with a dramatic turnaround at struggling Leyton Orient.
Maiden Dons goals for substitute Dean Morgan and on-loan midfielder Nigel Quashie in the closing stages were enough to give Paul Ince's side their first league win since late October. Trailing to Scott McGleish's first-half header, the Dons were forced to be patient in their comeback - knocking on the Orient door for most of the second half.
And after Morgan had cancelled out the lead with a fine piece of finishing on 79 minutes, there was an air of inevitability about the visitors' late winner - curled into the corner by the increasingly-impressive Quashie with two minutes to go. A big three points at the start of an important Christmas period - it was ironic that both goals should come from players that may not play a part in the Dons' season beyond then.
Morgan has been playing under pressure since he arrived at the Dons - the pressure to impress while playing on short-term contracts, the latest of which expires on Christmas Day. Add to that the boos of the home supporters, angry at his departure from Orient last season following a successful loan spell from Luton and you could understand his delight at rifling a Stephen Gleeson pass past Jamie Jones for the Dons' equaliser.
Then there was Quashie, the midfielder frozen out at West Ham and now starting to flourish under Ince. Bossing longer periods of game as his fitness improves by the week, his composed finish from Lewis Gobern's centre was a show of quality Ince will not want to lose in early January when his loan expires. All this too, without suspended duo Peter Leven and David McCracken, while an injury to Aaron Wilbraham meant the big striker didn't even travel.
In came the returning Mathias Doumbe to the Dons defence and they looked at ease in the opening stages. The visitors might even have been in front had Jermaine Easter managed to convert Sam Baldock's header from a Jason Puncheon cross on six minutes. Quashie curls home the Dons' winner late in the day. &nbsp; Employed wide on the right, Puncheon was buzzing in the early stages, but his energy was matched by Orient wide-man Andros Townsend - the on-loan Tottenham winger marked out by Ince as a threat before the game.
He wasn't the only one singled out by Ince as a threat - McGleish having been the scourge of the Dons before while in Wycombe colours - and the veteran front-man underlined that status on 17 minutes. Townsend won a free-kick on the left flank, Sean Thornton whipped it into the Dons box and McGleish rose unmarked to plant his header into the top corner. It was hard on the Dons after a bright start, but after Sam Baldock had glanced a header wide on 25 minutes, McGleish nearly doubled the lead with a header of his own that clipped the outside of the post from 15 yards.
Easter brought a smart save from Jones after Baldock's clever dummy had allowed him to run at the defence, but the break came at the right time for Orient. And they could have been out of sight shortly afterwards had Gueret not raced out to save heroically at the feet of McGleish and then, from the resulting corner, produced a brilliant one-handed save to repel the same man's header.
But as Puncheon continued to torment Orient on both flanks, the Dons' confidence grew and their spells of attacking pressure became increasingly sustained. Substitute Gobern's dangerous run from deep nearly gave Baldock a sight of goal on 66 minutes and moments later, after Puncheon had carved Orient open down the left, Quashie wasted a great sight of goal to the frustration of Ince in the technical area.
Morgan's introduction to replace the lively Baldock was something of a surprise to many, and when the former Orient striker lashed over after doing well to create space down the left he must have thought his chance to impress had passed. Not a bit of it, as Gleeson spotted him in a bit of space on the edge of the box, Morgan lifted the ball superbly between two defenders and then fired it past Jones from 18 yards. If it was a goal that brought immense relief to the 343 Dons fans in attendance, they were not relieved for long.
Within eight minutes it was downright delight. Quashie started the move himself, breaking up Orient possession inside the Dons half before charging forward as support raced to join him. Gobern was first to arrive, taking Quashie's pass with menace towards the Orient goal before cutting it back to the edge of the box.
In American sports, they're known as clutch performers - the man a team turns to for a game-defining moment - and Quashie, a man with over 100 top flight appearances to his name, was up to the task, calm enough to almost pass the ball beyond Jones and inside the right post.
The drama was not over there as Thornton crashed a late free-kick against Gueret's right-hand upright, but Orient's luck was out. It was Quashie's moment that proved defining, the kind of moment Ince recruited hi for. And he'll hope it's not the last time Quashie delivers at an important time.
Leyton Orient (4-4-2): Jones; Purchess (c), Ashworth, Chorley, Daniels; Smith (Demetriou 90+3), Summerfield, Thornton, Townsend; McGleish, Jarvis (Patulea 69).
Subs not used: Morris, Melligan, Chambers, Cave-Brown, Pires.
Goals: (McGleish 17)
MK Dons (4-4-2): Gueret; Howell (Woodards 80), Darren Powell, Doumbe, Lewington (c); Puncheon, Gleeson, Quashie, Chadwick (Gobern 62); Easter, Baldock (Morgan 70). Subs not used: Carrington, Searle, Chicksen, Williams.
Goals: Morgan 79, Quashie 88
Booked: Powell, Howell, Woodards
Attendance: 3,959 (343 away)
Referee: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire)