Nine man Peterborough United put an end to MK Dons’ unbeaten League run as Karl Robinson’s side suffered a 2-1 defeat to their local rivals in a feisty match at London Road.
Peterborough saw Nathaniel Knight-Percival dismissed in the seventh minute for a hand in the face of Patrick Bamford but after losing a man the hosts turned up the heat and took a two goal lead in at half-time thanks to a Lee Tomlin penalty and Britt Assombalonga strike.
A woeful first half lest the Dons with a mountain to climb in the second half but they were given a lifeline when Izale McLeod scored with 16 minutes to play and a minute later Peterborough received the second red card following Mark Little’s late challenge on Dean Lewington.
Despite late pressure from the Dons, with both Patrick Bamford and Jon Otsemobor denied n the closing stages, Peterborough held on to their lead and ensured three points stayed at London Road.
The Dons stuck with the same starting XI which beat Notts County a week ago with Patrick Bamford leading the strike force against an unchanged Posh side.
The hosts, after Samir Carruthers received treatment following a heavy fall in the opening 90 seconds, had a bright start and should have tested Bobby Olejnik when Patrick Bamford found Luke Chadwick but the midfielder’s volley flew well-over the bar.
It took just seven minutes for the real drama to filter through to this spicy derby though when Nathaniel Knight-Percival was shown a straight red card after a lengthy consultation between the referee Darren Drysdale and his linesman on the near side. Knight-Percival was judged to have put his hand to the face of Bamford and was duly shown his marching orders.
Rather than falling into crisis mode, United kept their composure and stuck to their attacking style. Danny Swanson broke on an excellent run through the Dons’ midfield and managed to make his way past Shaun Williams. The defender was clumsy in his challenge inside the area and the referee awarded the hosts a penalty.
Lee Tomlin made no mistake as he confidently converted from the spot and gave the hosts a 1-0 lead with only 10 men on the pitch.
Compared to their usual high standards, the Dons struggled to get into their passing rhythm and were sloppy in possession meaning Posh were able to pick off their mistakes and turn defence into attack.
The Dons should have found a leveller just before the half-hour mark when Williams’ in-swinging corner found an unmarked Jon Otsemobor at the far post but the Dons right-back turned his header wide.
The Posh ‘keeper was called upon moments later when he was forced into an excellent point-blank save to deny Bamford, who had been granted the chance by a nod-back from Chadwick.
The visitors were made to pay for not taking their chances just a minute later when a fine flick-on by Tyrone Barnett brought Posh’s Britt Assombalonga into action and the clinical striker made no mistake as he fired under the body of Martin to double the host’s lead.
An out of sorts Dons were stunned by the two hits from Peterborough and when even Bamford’s golden touch appeared to disappear as he shot straight at Olenik it seemed like a long way back for Karl Robinson’s team.
When a Danny Green free-kick was parried by the goalie the Dons were up appealing for a penalty as Bamford was brought down by Michael Boswick when he went for the follow-up. The appeals were quickly waved away by Mr Drysdale and as play continued Green was denied a long-range strike by the fingertips of Olejnik.
The Dons needed a much improved performance in the second half if they were to get anything from the game and George Baldock, who had come on for Samir Carruthers ten minutes before the break, did his best to inspire the men from MK1 as he powered down the right flank before watching a low shot comeback off the post.
Darren Potter and Stephen Gleeson also linked up on the edge of the box but it was the latter whose shot was only ever rising over.
While the Dons had been much improved in the second half they were still finding it difficult to break down a resolute Peterborough defence. Robinson decided to introduce some steel in the form of Alan Smith to join half-time substitute Izale McLeod and Bamford up front.
The greatest difficult for the Dons was trying to crack the Posh defence as they packed all of their outfield players behind the ball as the visitors desperately looked for gaps to expose.
After piling on the pressure for a substantial period the Dons finally gave themselves a chance to get back into the proceedings when Smith’s lofted ball into the box was played back across the line by Bamford for McLeod to swing his leg out from close range to pull the score to 2-1.
The goal for the Dons set up a tense final 15 minutes at London Road and things were made all the more interesting in the 76th minute when a late tackle on Lewington resulted in Peterborough’s second straight red card of the afternoon as Mark Little was dismissed.
Against nine men the Dons upped their search for an equaliser and went within a whisker as Bamford’s fierce shot struck the upright and Smith’s follow-up was well blocked by the ’keeper.
The Dons threw everything at Peterborough to find the goal which would earn them a point but Olejnik pulled off a superb save to deny Bamford from inside the area and Gabriel Zakuani made a great block to prevent Otsemobor from clinching the draw.
Five minutes of added time were not enough for the Dons as they returned to stadiummk empty-handed for the first time this season.
Peterborough United: Olejnik, Little, Bostwick, Knight-Percival, Alcock, Payne, Swanson (McCann 67), Rowe, Tomlin (Zakuani 46), Barnett (Ntlhe 80), Assombalonga.
Subs: Day (GK), Newell, Mendez-Laing, Gordon.
Goals: Tomlin (pen) 12, Assomalonga 34
Booked: Tomlin, Assombalonga, Swanson, Barnett
Sent-off: Knight-Precival 7, Little 76
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Otsemobor, Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Green (McLeod 46), Chadwick (Smith 61), Carruthers (Baldock 34); Bamford.
Subs: McLoughlin (GK), Hodson, Alli, Banton.
Goal: McLeod 74
Attendance: 8,149 (874 away)