MK Dons were denied by the woodwork and a superb display by Ben Williams in the Bury goal as they slipped to a cruel 3-1 defeat at Stadium MK.
The men from MK1 dominated from the first whistle and Ben Reeves’ second-half effort deservedly cancelled out James Vaughan’s early strike.
However, Karl Robinson’s men conceded against the run of play five minutes later and in injury-time as they were left to rue so many close calls, which on another night would have seen them run out comfortable winners.
Reeves replaced the injured Dean Bowditch in the starting XI – the only change from Saturday’s 4-1 win at Fleetwood Town - and he started with a spring his in his step, forcing Williams into a smart save on three minutes after a purposeful run forward.
Nicky Maynard then saw a shot blocked as the Dons started strongly while, at the other end, George Baldock was alert to deny James Vaughan.
However, just as Robinson’s men looked in control, they conceded on eight minutes when Vaughan pounced on a loose ball and fired superbly over David Martin from the edge of the area.
The Dons were dealt a further blow on 12 minutes when Ed Upson had to be replaced after picking up what looked like a hip injury.
Maynard, who was looking likely, almost capitalised on some indecision in the Bury backline as he challenged Williams, but the visitors’ keeper just came out on top as the men from MK1 aimed for a quick response.
The same man created an opportunity for himself on 22 minutes when he received the ball from 25 yards, turned and drove at goal before sending an effort not too far past the right-hand post.
Three minutes later, Williams was again called into action to save from Ryan Colclough, who had cut in from the left and let fly from 25 yards.
The game was mainly being played in the Bury half as the Dons continued to push for an equaliser, with the visitors having to deal with a number of deliveries into the box.
Williams made to superb save on 41 minutes, diving away to his left to keep out Paul Downing’s header which looked destined for the back of the net.
Maynard maintained his threat right up until the half-time whistle, his latest effort was again made by himself as he turned magnificently and forced Williams into a brilliant one-handed save away to his left. Deserved a goal.
The Dons came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second half and substitute Samir Carruthers rattled the post with a low drive – the equaliser was getting closer.
Aside from the goal, Bury had offered next to nothing going forward but some indecision presented Tom Pope with a chance on 52 minutes – thankfully Downing was on hand to get an important touch to deflect the effort just wide.
That proved to be a rare scare as the Dons continued to control proceedings, that goal was just eluding them. They came close again on 57 minutes when Downing headed Reeves’ corner against the outside of the post.
The pressure finally told on 63 minutes with Reeves firing home from close range after skipper Dean Lewington had done brilliantly to keep the ball alive and pick out the No.10.
However, against the run of play for a second time, Bury went ahead on 68 minutes as Vaughan finished from Jacob Mellis’ through-ball.
Kabongo Tshimanga was introduced as the Dons looked for an equaliser and he looked to have been brought down in the area but referee Darren Deadman waved away the strong appeals.
They kept pushing until the whistle and went close through Downing and Colclough but they were unable to find an equaliser – the least the Dons deserved.
To make matters worse, the Dons, with everyone including Martin up for a corner, were caught and Zeli Ismail was able to run the ball into an empty net to make it 3-1 in the dying embers of the game.
Starting XI: Martin; Baldock, Walsh, Downing, Lewington (c); Potter, Upson (Carruthers 13); Agard, Reeves, Colclough; Maynard (Tshimanga 70).
Unused subs: Nicholls, GB Williams, Hendry, GC Williams, Thomas-Asante.
Goal: Reeves (63).
Bookings: Downing, Colclough, Potter.
Attendance: 7,652 (269 Bury fans).