Three goals in 11 second-half minutes saw Southampton comeback from 2-0 down to beat MK Dons 3-2 and end their run of eight games without defeat.
The Dons appeared to be on course for their first ever victory at St Mary's Stadium thanks to goals either side of half-time from Gary MacKenzie and Sam Baldock -&nbsp;the striker's 11th League goal of the season.
However, the introduction of Jonathan Forte sparked a remarkable fightback from Southampton as he scored twice in two minutes to level the scores before Lee Barnard netted the winner in the 77th minute.
With Saints pushing for automatic promotion it was inevitable they would hit back at the Dons, but it was a harsh lesson for Karl Robinson's men who remain fifth in the League 1 table.
The draw between Peterborough and Bournemouth the previous night worked in favour of both Southampton and the Dons, but ultimately it was Saints who capitalised on the slip ups of play-off rivals.
Adam Clayton made his debut for the Dons
The fluid movement between Saints' front line in the opening five minutes was enough to warn the Dons' defence they would have a hard afternoon ahead.
Adam Lallana, passed fit after missing Saints' previous game ten days earlier with a knee injury, flittered from the left of the pitch into the middle to link up with Rickie Lambert as the Dons soaked up early pressure from the home side.
For all the ball Saints enjoyed by the quarter-of-an-hour mark they had only called on one stop from David Martin when Barnard steered a low shot into his arms.
The Dons, having held firm in defence, found Saints' frustration worked in their favour as they were able to venture into the opposition's half and ask questions of Nigel Adkins' back line.
With Chadwick playing deeper to provide support for Peter Leven and Stephen Gleeson it was left to Daniel Powell and Rowan Vine to feed the ball through for Baldock, but some no nonsense defending from Radhi Jaidi and Jose Fonte prevented the striker from testing Kelvin Davis.
Gary MacKenzie heads the Dons in front in the first half
There was a nervous atmosphere in the air at St Mary's as every attacking ball was actively encouraged with expectancy from the home support, and when Dan Harding bombed on from his full-back position to fizz in a cross for Lambert they were ready to celebrate but the 17-goal striker failed to get a touch on.
A lapse in concentration could have been costly when Leven's ball back to MacKenzie was sniffed out by Guly Do Prado, but a poor first touch blew his chance of taking advantage as Dean Lewington and MacKenzie quickly closed down the clear pathway to goal and the midfielder eventually blazed well over.
Eleven minutes before the break the Dons were able to silence St Mary's when MacKenzie gave the visitors the lead. The centreback held off the pressure of two Saints players as a corner from the right was whipped in at pace by Leven and MacKenzie, inside the six-yard box, emphatically headed past Davis.
Southampton were lively at the beginning of the second half as Harding found the room to squeeze a cross into the box for the on-running Do Prado but Martin was able to intercept to null the attack.
And then the Dons once again caught their hosts out on the counterattack with a delightful through ball from Gleeson releasing the busy Baldock. Saints' rightback Danny Butterfield desperately tried to keep tight to the striker, yet appeared reluctant to challenge for the ball through fear of conceding a penalty.
But even with Butterfield doing his best to close him down Baldock showed the confidence and coolness to finish into the bottom right corner to double the Dons' advantage.
Sam Baldock nets his 11th League goal of the season
A host of changes were made by both teams with Adam Clayton making his debut for the Dons after joining on loan from Leeds United to replace Rowan Vine, and Keanu Marsh-Brown replaced Baldock.
However it was the introduction of Forte that brought about a change in fortunes for the Saints as he made an immediate impact. Having been on the pitch for a matter of minutes Forte was afforded the room to control a cross in from the left before firing beyond the reach of Martin to cut the deficit.
The Dons then learnt a harsh lesson moments later as their lead disappeared within the blink of an eye. Saints drove forward with their new found momentum and when Harding's drilled cross from the byline failed to be cleared, Forte bundled home.
Daniel Powell battles against Dan Harding
With confidence oozing through the Saints they pushed on to find a winner, Hammond had a header blocked on the line by Martin, but eleven minutes after scoring their first the Saints fired in their third goal of the afternoon.
The skilful flick-on by Lambert split the Dons' defence as Barnard rolled away from the backline and tucked the ball into the back of the net to complete Saints' comeback.
Desperate not to see their early efforts go wasted the Dons hunted to find the goal that would allow them to take a point from the game, however, Marsh-Brown's late low shot trickled agonisingly inches wide and Leven struck the woodwork as Dons were left to swallow the bitter taste of defeat.
Southampton: Davis, Butterfield (Richards 72), Jaidi, Fonte, Harding, Hammond (c), Chaplow (Forte 63), Lallana, Do Prado (Stephens 66), Barnard, Lambert.
Subs: Bialkowski, Richardson, Martin, Seabourne, Connolly
Goals: Forte (66, 67), Barnard (77)
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Woodards, MacKenzie, Kouo-Doumbe, Lewington (c); Gleeson, Leven; Powell (Ibehre 72), Chadwick, Vine (Clayton 61); S Baldock (Marsh-Brown 65).
Subs: Searle, Marsh-Brown, Chicksen, Ibehre, O'Hanlon, Balanta
Goals: MacKenzie (34), S Baldock (51)
Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)
Attendance: 22,377 (598 away)