MK Dons suffered a frustrating away defeat on Saturday afternoon, as they fell to a 3-2 defeat at Tranmere Rovers.
The Dons were a goal-down inside the opening 10 minutes when former striker Ryan Lowe picked off an error by Shaun Williams to fire the Wirral side into the lead. Two wonder goals either side of half-time from Daniel Powell and Jason Banton respectively put the Dons in control of the match until the hosts were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute.
Lowe added his second from the spot before 22-year-old James Rowe came up with the winner just six minutes from time as the Dons’ defence was pulled a part by the late attack.
It was the Dons’ second defeat in a week and the result leaves Karl Robinson’s side in 11th place in the League 1 table.
The Dons made three changes to the side which lost against Carlisle United with new loanee Jordan Spence making his debut while Shaun Williams returned from suspension and Luke Chadwick started.
New centre-back Spence, having signed from West Ham on Thursday, was given the handed the task of marking former Dons striker Lowe but it was a mistake by his new team-mate Shaun Williams which gifted the forward his first chance at goal. Lowe pounced on a poor header by Williams and made no mistake in front of goal as he chipped the ball over Ian McLoughlin to give his Tranmere the lead against his former team.
The home side started lively and were causing the Dons early problems with Max Power racing down the left before Jake Kirby fired a low effort wide. Bizarrely, the referee deemed the effort to have taken a deflection from a Dons player; however, a fine block from Chadwick in the box meant nothing came from the corner.
At the opposite end a good run from Ben Reeves opened up space before the midfielder turned neatly only to send his shot wide of the post. In the opening 20 minutes the best chance of an equaliser for the Dons came from skipper Dean Lewington when a free-kick was cleared into his path by the Rovers defence and the left-back unleashed a stinging shot which had to be palmed away by Owain Fon Williams.
The Dons slowly built up some pressure on their hosts yet still lacked the bite and conviction they needed in front of goal to force the equaliser. Jon Otsemobor showed great pace and desire to burst down the right flank and whip the ball into the box but Chadwick was unable to apply any direction to the header which proved to be an easy collection for Fon Williams.
Robinson’s side had been far from their best but Daniel Powell, who has had his fair share of critics since returning from injury, provided the moment of magic they needed to get back into proceeding six minutes before the break.
The winger picked up the ball on the right wing before barging his way past three Tranmere players and firing an absolutely stunning right-footed strike into the back of the net. It came from nothing but it was exactly what the Dons needed to inject some belief into their play before the half-time interval.
Things got even better for the Dons in the second half when, just four minutes in, Jason Banton showed the talent he can possess as he cut in from the left, turned inside and out before curling a delicious shot into the top corner.
While at times the quality of play may have been questioned, there was no doubt about the quality in both goals from the Dons’ wingers. Tranmere almost went close to pulling a goal back a few minutes later when Lowe nodded the ball down for Jim McNulty who sent his volley skimming over the bar.
The route back into the match when debutant Spence was caught in a spin by the movement of Chris Atkinson and ended up pulling the Rovers man to the ground and conceded a penalty as well as picking up a booking for the error.
There was only ever going to be one man to take the penalty and although McLoughlin went the right way he couldn’t prevent Lowe’s spot-kick from finding the back of the net.
While Lowe had taken his goal tally to six for the season a man with double that missed an excellent chance to regain the lead for the Dons. Patrick Bamford, who had been quite by his own standards, had a glorious opportunity to stab the ball home from 10-yards but somehow dragged the ball wide of the mark.
As the Dons pushed on for the winner late in the game they were left exposed at the back and when Rovers hit them on the counter-attack they were caught in disarray in defence. A cross from Atkinson pulled the back four apart as Kirby cut the ball back from the byline and left Rowe with the simple task of slotting the ball home for his first professional goal.
Skipper Lewington was left screaming at his side for their slack defence whilst also trying to encourage them not to waste the remaining minutes.
Robinson’s men desperately tried to find a late equaliser in the game but Rovers packed men behind the ball to ensure there was no route through and the Dons were left to return home with nothing to show for their efforts.
Tranmere Rovers: Fon Williams, Holmes (Jennings 32), Taylor, Hateley (Rowe 46), Lowe (c), Baggie (Horwood 74), Atkinson, Kirby, Power, McNulty, Ridehalgh.
Subs not used: Watkins (GK), Stockton, Sodje, Koumas.
Goals: Lowe 7, 66 (pen), Rowe 84
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): McLoughlin; Otsemobor, Spence, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Reeves (Carruthers 81); Powell, Chadwick (McLeod 78), Banton; Bamford.
Subs not used: Burns (GK), Flanagan, Hodson, Smith, Baldock.
Goals: Powell 39, Banton 49
Attendance: 4,100 (190 away)