A late Billy Bodin goal saw MK Dons beaten 1-0 by Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.
Liam Manning’s men dominated most of the contest but were undone by Bodin’s goal five minutes from time, as they fell to back-to-back defeats.
The loss sees the Dons remain third in the Sky Bet League One table, level on points with second-place Rotherham United, with two games left to play.
MK Dons make one enforced change from the weekend as Hiram Boateng replacd the injured Mo Eisa.
Aden Baldwin took Boateng’s place on the bench while Jack Davies came in for the absent Connor Wickham.
The Dons made a confident start and it was captain who Dean Lewington who had the first shooting chance of the game, after he intercepted a ball deep inside the Oxford half. Lewington went for goal with his left foot but saw his effort saved.
There was a chance for Scott Twine moments later but he couldn’t get onto Troy Parrott’s low cross. The loose ball took an unkind bounce for Boateng, who was looking to pounce.
On 10 minutes, Parrott tried his luck himself but had his low drive kept out by a diving Jack Stevens. The Irishman then set up Boateng, who couldn’t quite pick out Twine with his pass across the box.
Parrott was in again on 25 minutes, beating the offside trap and Stevens with his chipped effort but Elliott Moore was able to get back in time to hook clear for the hosts.
MK Dons’ frontman was heavily involved and he had another opportunity on 39 minutes, getting his head to Twine’s corner but glancing over the crossbar. Four minutes later, Twine found Boateng in the box but he wasn’t able to shift his feet and get a shot away.
Half-Time – Oxford United 0-0 MK Dons
A lapse in concentration at the start of the second half presented Matty Taylor with a golden opportunity to break the deadlock but Cumming came to the Dons’ rescue, keeping out the effort with a great reaction save.
Manning’s men responded down the left flank, with Coventry playing in Parrott whose eventual curling shot was blocked up and then into the arms of Stevens by an Oxford defender.
The U’s offered a reminder of their threat with an hour played but Darling got himself in the way of Nathan Holland’s shot. Darling also produced a vital block at the near post from the resulting corner.
Manning’s Dons were put under pressure from their hosts after that spell, which may have forced the Head Coach into his first change on 68 minutes – David Kasumu brought on in place of Boateng.
With 17 minutes to play, Twine tried his luck from range but dragged his right-footed shot wide of the post. At the other end, Moore headed over for Oxford, eight yards out.
The Dons went agonisingly close on 80 minutes when a loose clearance fell kindly for Kaine Kesler Hayden, whose ball across goal was an inch away from being converted by a sliding Coventry.
Theo Corbeanu came off the bench with five minutes to play but his task was immediately to earn MK Dons a point rather than all three after Oxford took the lead through Bodin, who finished into the near post after the hosts had pounced on a loose pass.
That Bodin goal was the killer blow for the Dons, who were never able to recover.
Full-Time – Oxford United 1-0 MK Dons
MK Dons: Cumming, Lewington, O’Hora, Darling, Twine, Coventry, McEachran, Boateng (Kasumu 67), Parrott (Corbeanu 85), Harvie, Kesler Hayden.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Baldwin, Kemp, Davies, Mason.
Oxford United: Stevens, Long, Brown, Moore, Brannagan, Taylor, Sykes (Williams 81), McNally, Whyte (Bodin 69), Kane, Holland (Browne 81).
Subs: Eastwood, Forde, McGuane, Seddon.
Booked: McNally, Taylor
Referee: A Backhouse
Attendance: 9,685 (1,608 away)