MK Dons suffered their second home defeat of the Christmas period as Coventry City twice came from behind to win 3-2 at stadiummk.
Daniel Powell and Ryan Lowe strikes, either side of an outstanding goal from Franck Moussa, gave the Dons a 2-1 lead at half-time but two Stephen Elliott goals in as many minutes in the second half condemned the Dons to defeat.
Although it was a much-improved performance from the poor showing against Walsall just three days earlier, the result, coupled with others elsewhere, means the Dons start 2013 outside the play-off places.
The Dons made two changes with 16-year-old Dele Alli making his first League start, with Shaun Williams returning to the centre of defence, and Alan Smith moving into the attacking hole behind lone striker Ryan Lowe.
Coventry, without their top goal scorer David McGoldrick, also made two changes with Stephen Elliott and John Fleck finding their way into the starting XI.
It was a lively start at stadiummk with both sides threatening at each end of pitch within the opening five minutes as Daniel Powell broke but saw his shot blocked and Antony Kay was forced into some late defending at the opposite end moments later to prevent Franck Moussa getting on the end of a cut-back.
In the ninth minute the Dons felt they had a penalty shout when some excellent link-up play between Dean Lewington, Bowditch and Smith resulted with the former going down just inside the box under the pressure of the Sky Blues’ defence, but it was swiftly turned down by Andy Woolmer.
The Dons quickly found their rhythm and tried to make their purple patch count as Powell forced a save from Joe Murphy and the wide man was back on the attack moments later as he forces a mistake from the defender and Ryan Lowe picked up the loose ball. As Murphy bore down on him Lowe, with bags of confidence, lobbed the ball just over the bar.
Robinson’s side’s positive start, and excellent response from a disappointing performance just days earlier against Walsall, when the on-form Powell dazzled as he picked up the ball on the right of the box, cut in on his left foot and drilled into the bottom corner of Murphy’s net.
Coventry, one of the few sides to visit stadiummk this season and not pile men behind the ball, went on the hunt for an equaliser and Stephen Elliott should have done better with a free-header on Carl Baker’s corner, but he nodded well over.
Elliott was back in the thick of the action in the 27th minute when he took a tumble in the box under the pressure of Antony Kay, but Mr Woolmer deemed there had been no foul.
However, seconds later Coventry Moussa added a touch of magic to the game with a brilliant individual goal. The tricky winger embarked on a run from at least 40-yards out, weaving past Dons players on his way through to the box, where he cut inside Williams to lift his fine shot over Martin and fire in the equaliser.
The leveller had given the visitors a lift as Gary McSheffrey went for an ambitious long drill which fell into the grateful arms of Martin.
For the Dons Adam Chicksen
provided a creative spark down the right as he skipped past two players to feed the ball to Smith, who in turn found Lowe. The Liverpulian striker held the ball up before laying it into the path of Smith, but the forward was unable to prevent the ball from lifting.
Seven minutes from time the Dons regained the lead when Lowe netted his fifth League goal in as many games. Dean Bowditch found Lowe who took a moment or two to steady himself as he picked out his spot, beating Murphy with confidence before wheeling away to celebrate.
Lowe was determined to get on the score sheet again after interval as Williams’ corner was played back out to the Irishman, which allowed more space to open up as the ball was whipped back in but Lowe flicked his header just wide.
Yet, the engaging encounter delivered more drama when a fine cross from McSheffrey was delivered into Elliott inside the six-yard box. Martin hesitated as Elliott beat Williams at the far post to head in Coventry’s equaliser.
With the wind in their sails, Coventry tore Dons open on the counter-attack as McSheffrey once more found Sky Blues striker Elliott. The forward turned past Kay, who desperately tried to recover, but Elliott was unstoppable as he pulled the trigger to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the game.
It was a huge blow for the Dons as two goals conceded in two minutes put the Dons firmly on the back foot with the need to find an equaliser before the Sky Blues took full control of proceedings.
Robinson decided to make his first tactical change of the game as Smith made way for Angelo Balanta, who took up a spot on the flank as Bowditch moved into a more central position.
A spell of possession for the Dons saw panic in the Sky Blues’ box as a Chicksen cross failed to be dealt with but Lowe’s eventual strike went well-wide.
With just over 10 minutes to play Lowe made way for Charlie MacDonald as the Dons desperately went on the hunt for the at least a point from the game.
But a point went begging in the 85th minute when an unmarked Balanta turned the ball wide from eight-yards out. The Dons will be keen to return to winning ways on Tuesday when they face a tough trip to Notts County.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Chicksen, Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Alli (Ismail 71); Powell, Smith (Balanta 58), Bowditch; Lowe (MacDonald 78).
Subs: McLoughlin (GK), Kouo-Doumbe, MacKenzie, Sekajja.
Booked: Smith, Lewington
Goals: Powell 15, Lowe 27
Coventry City (4-5-1): Murphy, Baker (c), Fleck, McSheffrey (Barton 79), Elliott (O'Donovan 73), Jennings, Christie, Wood, Edjenguele, Moussa, Adams.
Subs: Dunn (GK), Clarke, Thomas, Cameron, McDonald.
Goals: Moussa 27, Elliott 49, 51
Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire)
Goal-Don Goal: 1st goal – 14.51; 2nd goal – 26.38; 3rd goal – 37.46; 4th goal – 48.11; 5th goal – 50.16
Attendance: 13,660 (4,988 away)