Adam Clayton netted a dramatic injury-time winner against his former team as MK Dons condemned Carlisle United to a 3-2 defeat at stadiummk.
Two weeks after joining the Dons on loan from Leeds United,&nbsp;Clayton made himself an instant hero to the Cowshed as he bundled in Dean Lewington's cross in the dying seconds to seal a vital victory which provides the Dons with a seven point cushion in the League 1 play-offs with five games remaining.
The Dons had taken the lead in the 13th minute through Daniel Powell, but Liam Noble ensured scores were level at half-time with a long range effort and the visitors then took the lead when James Berrett converted a penalty in the 69th minute.
However, substitute Angelo Balanta's header levelled the scores and gave the Dons the momentum. The&nbsp;Dons&nbsp;drove forward, throwing all their efforts into finding a winner and when Clayton applied the finish stadiummk reached a deafening volume.
Angelo Balanta's header levelled the scores
The Dons were without their goal scorers from Southampton as both Gary MacKenzie and Sam Baldock were ruled out with ankle injuries.
Their absence brought Sean O'Hanlon and Keanu Marsh-Brown back into the starting line-up, and the latter brought about the first sense of excitement inside the opening five minutes when his trademark break down the flank and his quick feet caused Frank Simek an early headache but the shot that followed from outside the box was headed clear by Peter Murphy.
A steady rhythm to the game allowed a Carlisle side, oozing with confidence on the back of their JPT success, to move freely up front which almost brought the deadlock breaker when Berrett and Tom Taiwo teamed up from midfield.
Berrett broke from the middle to thread the ball through to the feet of Taiwo who pushed on to the left of the Dons' box. As Taiwo glanced back up he spotted Berrett had continued his run but as the ball was dragged along the goal mouth Berrett failed to get the touch he needed with the goal at his mercy.
Daniel Powell opened the scoring in the 13th minute
It was a chance Carlisle were left to rue as Dons immediately hit back with an attack resulting from David Martin's goal kick, and the home side were soon celebrating as they opened the scoring.
The work of Marsh-Brown on the left-hand side caused the Cumbrians no end of problems, and when the on-loan Fulham youngster delivered an inch perfect cross into the box for Powell the signs looked ominous for the visitors. Powell's touch looked heavy at first, but the ball sat up nicely allowing the winger to produce a confident finish with his right boot to give the Dons the lead.
Danny Woodards in first-half action before picking up an injury
A foul on Sean O'Hanlon presented Peter Leven with the chance to make it 2-0 with a free-kick from yards outside the area, and the midfield general did well to curl his strike over the visitors' wall but Adam Collin had no trouble with the save.
After taking the lead the Dons began to spray the ball around in their usual slick style, however, with the open nature of the game Carlisle were able to take advantage of the spaces left vacant. And when Liam Noble found time on the ball he fancied his chances from distance - from 30-yards out there did not appear to be too much danger for the Dons but the Cumbrian midfielder's drive screamed through the defence and squeezed under David Martin to level the scores.
The equaliser sparked a good spell for Carlisle as looked to add to the score line. They almost found a second when Berrett's free-kick, from the right of the box, was nodded wide by Craig Curran. At the time the Dons only had ten men on the pitch as Danny Woodards received medical treatment.
When the full-back failed to recover from the knock Karl&nbsp;Robinson was forced into his first substitution of the game and a reshuffle followed as Stephen Gleeson moved into right-back and Adam Clayton, who spent time on loan at Carlisle, was introduce to slot in alongside Peter Leven in midfield.
Luke Chadwick attempts to get the ball back
The Dons finished the half brightly when Marsh-Brown stole possession in his own half and powered through to the byline but his cross in for Rowan Vine carried too much pace and the striker was unable to head home.
Within three minutes of the second half the Dons twice went close to regaining the lead, first a superb ball from Chadwick allowed Vine to ghost into the box but as he tried to tuck the ball in at the near post Carlisle 'keeper Collin blocked with his feet. And from the resulting corner O'Hanlon powered a point blank header wide of the post.
A moment of sloppy play on the edge of the Dons' 18-yard box gifted Noble another glimpse at goal, and he didn't need a second invitation as he curled a sweet shot into the arms of Martin. It was a reminder to the Dons, if they needed one, that points were still there to be taken by Greg Abbott's men.
Unfortunately for the Dons another opportunity came in the form of a penalty for Carlisle in the 69th minute. Francois Zoko had been freed into the area by Berrett's through ball, and as O'Hanlon attempted to sweep clear he took Zoko's standing and referee Andy D'Urso pointed to the spot.
Angelo Balanta celebrates as Dons make it 2-2
Martin showed the signs of his Liverpool background with Bruce Grobbelaar and Jerzy Dudek style arm waving as Berrett lined up for the penalty, but the Carlisle man remained undeterred as he dispatched into the bottom corner.
Now chasing the game, the Dons introduced Angelo Balanta in place of Luke Chadwick to add fresh legs and pace to provide support to Jabo Ibehre. It was a decision that paid off ten minutes later when Balanta netted his fourth Dons goal to square the scores.
The Columbian-born winger, still on his comeback from ankle surgery four month ago, was stood all on his own awaiting Leven's free-kick deep from the left, and with no one picking up Balanta he was able to nod the ball down and beyond Collin.
And the Dons could so easily have wrapped up all three points in the closing stages as Clayton drove a shot wide, Marsh-Brown shot over from inside the area and Lewington nodded wide.
Adam Clayton strokes home the winner against his former club
Agonisingly, the Dons again came within inches of finding the decider in the 89th minute when Marsh-Brown's cross teed up Ibehre for an acrobatic volley which picked up a wicked deflection only to skim inches past the post.
But the Dons found their winner - and the noise volume at stadiummk reached an incredible level - Lewington's cross came in from the left byline and Clayton tapped in against his old side to seal a dramatic victory.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Woodards (Clayton 39), O'Hanlon, Kouo-Doumbe, Lewington (c); Gleeson, Leven; Powell, Chadwick (Balanta70), Marsh-Brown; Vine (Ibehre 63).
Subs: Searle, Balanta, Flanagan, Chicksen, Guy.
Goals: Powell 13, Balanta 81, Clayton 90
Carlisle United: Collin, Simek, Murphy, Robson, Thirlwell (c), Taiwo, Zoko, Curran, Noble, Berrett (Madden 84), Michalik.
Subs: Livesey, Loy, madden, Gillespie, Bowman, McKenna,Wells.
Booked: Murphy, Robson
Goals: Noble 28, Berrett (pen) 69
Referee: Andy D'Urso (Essex)
Attendance: 10, 795