MK Dons fell to their first home league defeat of the season as they were beaten 2-1 by Stockport County at Stadium MK.
Louie Barry put the visitors in front after 18 minutes and while Mo Eisa was able to draw the Dons level, Stockport restored their lead before half-time through Nick Powell.
Powell’s header ultimately proved the difference as Graham Alexander’s men suffered defeat at Stadium MK for the first time in the new Sky Bet League Two season. They drop to ninth in the table.
Mo Eisa returned to the starting XI as Head Coach Alexander made one change to the team which drew 1-1 with Notts County. Eisa, who hadn’t started since the victory over Doncaster Rovers, replaced Max Dean, who took his place amongst the substitutes.
The Dons had an early chance to load the box, following a foul on Jonathan Leko midway inside the Stockport half. The visitors, though, were able to deal with Ethan Robson’s initial delivery into the area and Dawson Devoy’s effort on the follow-up was blocked.
Referee Ed Duckworth awarded MK Dons another free-kick on six minutes, again for a foul on Leko, who had picked up a loose ball 10 yards from the edge of the D. This provided a shooting opportunity for Eisa, whose dipping and swerving attempt flew just past the right post.
Stockport had their first glimpse of Craig MacGillivray’s goal shortly after but an excellent recovery tackle from Jack Tucker prevented Isaac Olaofe from getting a shot away.
Leko appeared to be scythed down again on 10 minutes, this time in the penalty area, but Mr. Duckworth allected not to award the Dons a spot-kick. The Dons would, however, test Hinchliffe for the first time moments later – Cameron Norman forcing a save out of the Hatters goalkeeper with an angled drive from Gilbey’s cutback.
From the resulting corner, the Dons worked a chance for Norman to have another go at goal but this time his effort was blocked by a Stockport defender. Robson also had a shot blocked as the visiting side survived another home attack.
It was then Stockport’s turn to threaten and they turned their short attacking spell into the game’s opening goal – former Dons loanee BARRY latching onto a through pass inside the area and managing to curl a shot past MacGillivray to give his side an 18th-minute lead. 0-1.
The Dons, a little shaken after falling behind against the run of play, took a little time to get going again – and when they did they equalised.
From the second of two successive corners on 26 minutes, an in-swinging delivery from Robson was met a leaping Tommy Smith at the far post. His header back across goal fell perfectly for EISA, who reached out a right leg and stabbed home inside the six-yard area. 1-1.
Eisa tried to turn provider for Leko as Alexander’s men went in search of the lead with a half-an-hour played but the MK Dons number 7 was denied by a brave foot-in from Ibou Touray on the edge of his box.
A driving run from Gilbey led to a shooting opportunity for Robson with 34 minutes played. The midfielder had time to run onto the loose ball, however couldn’t keep his strike down from the edge of the D.
Eisa went agonisingly close to doubling his and the Dons’ tally three minutes later, latching onto Devoy’s chipped pass over the Stockport defence only to be denied by the woodwork with Hinchliffe beaten.
MacGillivray was forced to get a hand to Barry’s teasing cross as Stockport offered a reminder of the threat with four minutes to play in the first half. Harvie then got in the way of Will Collar’s attempt at the far post.
However, Stockport were able to restore their lead two minutes into first-half stoppage-time, as POWELL found a yard of space in the Dons area to head past MacGillivray from a right-wing cross. 1-2.
Behind at the break, Alexander’s side returned for the second half with a change to their line-up – Ellis Harrison brought on in place of Leko in attack.
The new number nine was the target of Norman’s long throw a minute into the second period but he wasn’t able to connect. The ball did fall to Robson, though his left-footed strike was blocked by a County man.
MK Dons supporters inside Stadium MK thought the equaliser had arrived on 51 minutes when Harvie’s half-volley rippled the net – unfortunately for the Dons, his left-footed try had crashed into the side netting from Robson’s corner.
Later, Harvie was inches away from latching onto Tucker’s pass over the Stockport backline, where he would have had only Hinchliffe to beat. Harvie then delivered a cross for Harrison but Robson wasn’t able to get on the end of his knockdown.
MacGillivray got down well to smother a dangerous-looking cross from Antoni Sarcevic as Stockport worked their first real attack of the second half. The MK Dons goalkeeper then produced an excellent diving save to keep out Odin Bailey’s on-target effort.
Ethan Pye headed wide from a good position as Stockport went close again to doubling their lead. There were also let off the hook with Sarcevic scuffed his effort from inside the area, failing to trouble MacGillivray despite being well placed.
The Dons responded by earning a corner from which O’Hora headed over after meeting Devoy’s looping cross. Alexander then made a triple change, introducing Joe Tomlinson, Dean and Jack Payne in the places of Norman, Robson and Devoy.
Payne and Tomlinson were involved right away, creating a chance for Harrison from the former’s corner – Harrison did well to get a shot away inside a crowded penalty area but saw his attempt blocked on its way through to goal.
A few minutes later, Harrison fired a fierce drive wide of the target from 20 yards out. Hinchliffe then denied Payne a stunning first MK Dons goal with a brilliant diving save down to his left.
Hinchliffe’s opposite number, MacGillivray, was able to smother the ball on the line from Sarcevic’s close-range try on 76 minutes. He then watched Bailey drill one harmslessly over his crossbar as Stockport countered once again.
Back on the attack, the Dons saw Dean have an 18-yard effort deflect wide of the post with eight minutes to play in the 90. Gilbey then had a shot blocked from the resulting corner.
Macauley Southam-Hales’ strike from the apex of the Dons penalty area was diverted over the bar by a diving Harvie as he prevented the visitors from extending their lead in the final minute of regulation time.
Six minutes were added on after the 90 and in the second of those, Bailey and Collar both spurned opportunities to settle the result for Stockport.
Tomlinson tried his luck at finding an equaliser a minute later but wasn’t able to find the target with his 20-yard strike. Gilbey then produced a stunning run down the right, breaking into the area only for his cutback to be intercepted by the Stockport defence.
That led to a corner from which the Dons went agonisingly close to a leveller - Smith managed to get a leg to Harrison’s flick-on but was only able to find the side netting from a tight angle.
There was time for one final delivery into the Stockport box, courtesy of Tomlinson, but he and Harrison weren’t able to connect. The whistle sounded shortly after.
MK Dons: MacGillivray, Norman (Tomlinson 66), Tucker, O’Hora, Leko (Harrison 46), Gilbey, Eisa, Smith, Robson (Dean 66), Harvie, Devoy (Payne 66).
Subs: Kelly, Lewington, Stewart
Goal: Eisa (26)
Booked: Robson, Smith, Gilbey, Harvie
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Touray, Horsfall, Southam-Hales, Sarcevic, Powell (Bailey 52), Collar, Pye, Croasdale, Barry (Wright 77), Olaofe.
Subs: Smith, Madden, Cotterill, Pond, Richardson.
Goals: Barry (18), Powell (45+2)
Booked: Barry, Pye
Referee: E Duckworth
Attendance: 7,085 (1,064 away)