An 87th minute looping header from Antony Kay was enough to secure three points for MK Dons as they recorded a 1-0 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Kay’s well-timed header at the back post proved the difference between the two sides in a match where only a handful of clear-cut chances were created.
United will lament a missed opportunity from Febian Brandy, who was sent-off in injury, after the former Walsall forward mis-fired in front of an open goal.
The victory, the Dons’ first at Bramall Lane, kept the men from MK1’s unbeaten League run in tact while Sheffield United’s woes deepened by the defeat.
The Dons made five changes to the side which was beaten in the Capital One Cup at Sunderland in midweek. Skipper Dean Lewington returned to the fold after four weeks out with a knee injury, Izale McLeod retained his place up front after his goal scoring exploits in the Cup while first team regulars David Martin, Darren Potter and Jason Banton were also named in the starting XI.
The Dons faced a Sheffield United side who appointed David Weir in the summer as their new manager. The former Everton and Rangers defender has made a conscious effort to change the style of play at the Blades and matched the Dons’ 4-2-3-1 formation, with new signing Jose Baxter straight into the side.
Sheffield United started on the front foot with Jamie Murphy swinging a good cross into the box for Lyle Taylor, but David Martin beat the forward to the ball and made a comfortable collection. The hosts also applied early pressure with a number of set pieces, from corners and free-kicks, yet little came from them.
It took the Dons 15 minutes to get into their stride and when they did, they should have taken the lead or at least called upon George Long to make a save. Some good work down the left-hand side allowed Dean Lewington to link up with McLeod, the forward did well to dummy the defender but somehow fired well off-target from a matter of yards out.
The Blades had their own chances to take the lead as well when Taylor shot wide of the right post and moments later the forward linked up excellently with Baxter, nodding the ball into the winger’s path, who fired a fine volley wide.
There was very little in the way of thrilling action at Bramall Lane, instead play was largely interrupted by niggling fouls. Neither side had been able to stamp their authority on the match but the Dons looked as though they had opened up an avenue to break the deadlock ten minutes before the break.
Antony Kay looped a long ball up to the edge of the box for McLeod and the striker held the ball up well and laid it on a plate for Carruthers. Unfortunately for the Aston Villa loanee his run had been well tracked by the United defence and his powerful shot was well-blocked before it could cause Long any troubles in goal.
Having cancelled each other out for the first half, the play after the interval opened up slightly. When Baxter unleashed a drilled shot the foot of Kay blocked it from testing Martin but the loose ball popped straight to the feet of Taylor who, somehow, turned his close-range shot wide of the post.
With the Dons having little joy in carving through the Blades Robinson, shortly after the hour-mark, decided to introduced Luke Chadwick, with McLeod giving way. The midfielder slotted into the role behind Bamford, who was pushed up as the lone striker.
Martin was called upon for his first real save of the game in the 66th minute when Tony McMahon opted for goal from a free-kick 25-yards out. His well-struck delivery left Martin outstretched to his left to tip the ball away. It was the closest either side had come to opening the scoring.
There had been little to get either set of supporters excited throughout the match, but Bamford tried to change that for the Dons fans as time began to tick away when he wrestled his way through the Blades defence only screw his shot out for a goalkick.
With less five minutes remaining United had a golden chance to win the game as the pulled the Dons defence apart when Ryan Flynn fizzed a superb cross into the box which Joe Ironside initially missed leaving Brandy with an open goal at his mercy.
The forward, however, was left with his head in his hands as he turned his shot off-target with no one around him.
The Dons made United pay at the opposite end when Williams’ free-kick from the right was matched by Kay at the far post and the defender looped a header over Long to hand the visitors all three points three minutes from time.
To make matters worse for the home side Brandy was shown a straight red card in the fifth minute of injury-time for a dangerous lunge of Hodson. While the hosts were left to lick their wounds, the Dons travelled back to MK with their first away win of the season.
Sheffield United: Long, Maguire, Hill, Flynn (McFadzean 90), Doyle, Taylor (Ironside 57), Baxter, Collins, Coady, Murphy (Brandy 63), McMahon.
Subs: Howard (GK), Westlake, McGinn, McGinty.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Hodson, Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Banton (Alli 71), Bamford, Carruthers (Baldock 75); McLeod (Chadwick 62).
Subs: McLoughlin (GK), Otsemobor, Smith, Reeves.
Booked: Carruthers, Williams, Gleeson, Potter
Goal: Kay 87
Referee: David Webb
Attendance: 15,080 (353 away)