MK Dons' fading hopes of reaching the League 1 play-offs were dealt another setback as they were beaten at battling Yeovil Town.
Shaun MacDonald's wonderfully-struck 23rd-minute winner settled an uninspiring encounter, where both sides struggled to find effective rhythm on an increasingly pimply Huish Park pitch. The Dons, for their part, produced the better of it, particularly in the second half, but lacked the killer touch, or indeed stroke of luck, required to take firm control of the game. Paul Ince's men now trail Huddersfield and Millwall in the fight for the final play-off spot by nine points with 13 games to go.
But they can take encouragement from the return of key defender Sean O'Hanlon, who put eight months of injury hell behind him to make a late cameo in Somerset. His ongoing recovery and return to first team action will be pivotal to the Dons' final 13 games.
MacDonald's moment of magic - in keeping with little else served up on the day - was worthy of being a winner, but it came after a promising Dons start in which they looked far the more likely. Leading scorer Jermaine Easter, starting on the left of a five-man midfield, gave Yeovil skipper Craig Alcock the slip with a delightful touch inside the box and only 'keeper Alex McCarthy's right boot prevented him making the breakthrough. Yeovil looked happy to give the Dons time in possession, to the frustration of the home supporters, but once they hit the front, boss Terry Skiverton let them off the leash.
Andros Townsend holds off Terrell Forbes. &nbsp; The goal came from a contested corner - Danny Woodards insisting he'd played the ball against Arron Davies as he slid in down the right - but Dean Lewington looked to have cleared the danger when he forcefully headed Davies' delivery out of harms way. MacDonald, on-loan with the Glovers from Championship side Swansea City, wasn't having a bit of it and controlled immaculately before drilling a rising half-volley past the helpless Willy Gueret from 25 yards.
It put the home side right in the ascendency and they would have been two up had Gueret not smartly denied Gavin Tomlin and then stepped in to prevent the ensuing goalmouth scramble getting out of hand. The Frenchman was stretched further on 33 minutes when Davies' curling effort was just within his reach.
The visitors rallied before the break, with former Glover Andros Townsend at the heart of it. The on-loan Spurs youngster stung the palms of McCarthy with a crisp long-range drive on 40 minutes and then cut a return pass just out of Luke Chadwick's reach moments later. It was a sign of how the game would go after the break as Yeovil barely breached Dons territory after Tomlin had headed criminally wide shortly before the interval.
With men in green and white packed tightly behind the ball and the pitch continuing to defy flowing football, Ince's men struggled to build the momentum they needed to genuinely test Yeovil's resolve. When the chances came, they came sporadically - James Tunnicliffe shooting over after being set up by Aaron Wilbraham inside the box on 64 minutes and Chadwick jabbing the ball beyond the hesitant McCarthy only for Steven Caulker to hammer clear three minutes later.
Substitute Dean Morgan twice went close after his introduction with 20 minutes to go - hooking just McCarthy's bar from Townsend's corner and halted by the linesman's flag as he prepared to head a Wilbraham flick-on past the Glovers 'keeper with six minutes to play. O'Hanlon's introduction five minutes from time, and the subsequent injection of aggression at both ends, nearly produced the desired effect when he powered through to head Peter Leven corner over on 88 minutes.
And when Townsend was denied by McCarthy after reeling in another Wilbraham knockdown, Dons fans knew it wasn't going to be their side's day.
Yeovil Town (4-4-2): McCarthy; Alcock (c), Forbes, Caulker, Smith; Tomlin (Murtagh 85), MacDonald, Kalala, Davies (Welsh 70); Bowditch (Mason 53), Williams.
Subs not used: Martin, Murray, Downes, Hutchins.
Goals: MacDonald 23 Booked: Williams, Tomlin
MK Dons (4-5-1): Gueret; Woodards (O'Hanlon 85), Tunnicliffe, McCracken, Lewington (c); Townsend, Gleeson, Chadwick (Morgan 69), Leven, Easter; Wilbraham.
Subs not used: Stirling, Carrington, Davis, Howell, Randall. Booked: Gleeson, Leven, Townsend, McCracken
Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)