Brentford 3 MK Dons 1
MK Dons' four-game winning run came to an end on Sunday afternoon, after a 3-1 defeat to Brentford at Griffin Park.
Clayton Donaldson put the hosts ahead after only two minutes before Marcello Trotta and Sam Saunders added goals of their own in the second half, to condemn the Dons to only their first defeat in December.
Right-back Lee Hodson did grab a late consolation for the men from MK1, who also had a decent penalty appeal turned away late-on.
Karl Robinson was forced into making one change to his side with Stephen Gleeson suspended, after picking up his fifth booking of the season away at Crawley Town on Boxing Day. The experienced Alan Smith was the man trusted to replace the Irishman alongside Darren Potter in midfield as the Dons looked to make it five wins from five in December.
But they made the worst possible start when, just two minutes in, both Shaun Williams and then Dean Lewington failed to deal with a long, hopeful ball forward and Brentford striker Donaldson pounced before beating David Martin at his near post.
It was the first goal the Dons had conceded in five games and on 5 minutes they almost conceded second when a clearance fell perfectly for Bees defender Alan McCormack but, fortunately for Robinson’s men, Martin was able to adjust his feet and palm the half-volley away from danger.
The Dons did begin to grow into the contest soon after but it was still their opponents who were causing the most problems in the final third of the pitch.
Firstly, Martin had to be brave to deny Trotta a simple finish after another defensive mix-up at the back for the Dons before the same Brentford man opted to shoot instead of squaring to an unmarked Donaldson; Trotta’s shot subsequently ended up with the Bees fans behind the goal.
It took until the 17th minute before the Dons had their first real shot of the game but it almost proved to be enough. Patrick Bamford, playing in the penultimate League match of his loan spell from Chelsea, latched onto a through-ball before looping a shot over Brentford ‘keeper David Button and onto the bar.
Saunders then tried his luck from distance for the hosts, but his shot was saved comfortably by Martin, before Trotta poked a Donaldson cross just over the crossbar with a first-time effort on 20 minutes.
The men from MK1 did start to enjoy more and more of the ball as the half progressed but the Bees, who occupied third-place in the division heading into the game, were continuing to look a real threat on the attack.
The Dons, though, had their own danger man in Bamford and the in-form striker went close to an equaliser, once again, six minutes before half-time with a curling left-footed shot on the turn which flew narrowly over Button’s bar. Bamford's chance turned out to be the last of an eventful first period.
If Robinson’s men were to take anything away from their visit to London, they had to start the second half unlike they did in the first.
However, after Donaldson fired a warning with a fierce right-footed shot from the edge of the area, Brentford doubled their lead on 51 minutes. Trotta, who had spurned two glorious opportunities early-on, found the far corner of the net with a close-range shot after Saunders had done well to pick him out with a pass.
Then, just six minutes later, Brentford all-but sealed their victory when Saunders turned goalscorer with a beautifully struck right-footed shot, which curled past a static Martin and into the top of the net.
Although the odds were stacked against them, the Dons continued to push forward in the hope of salvaging some respectability, if not any points. Both Reeves and substitute Dele Alli, who was introduced just prior to Brentford's third goal, saw long-range efforts fall off target in the 66th and 67th minutes respectively.
Eventually, though, the Dons were rewarded for their attacking efforts when, on 72 minutes, right-back Hodson grabbed his first goal in an MK Dons shirt with a superb tight-angled finish which flew bast Button and into the top right-hand corner.
What appeared to be a consolation goal from Hodson, though, could have proved to be more than that when Bamford was played through within a minute of the re-start but the Chelsea man placed his left-footed shot off target.
The Dons continued to push for a second goal late-on in the hope of setting up an interesting last few minutes and when Bamford appeared to be fouled deep inside the Brentford box, it looked for all the world as though Williams would have the chance to do just that from the spot; however, referee Andy D'Urso waved away the appeals from the visitors and nothing was given.
Bamford went close again in stoppage time with a poked effort, after a neat one-two with Dele Alli - who was making his first appearance of the month after spell out with an injury - but the Dons couldn't close the gap any further and, as a result, they finish 2013 in 11th place in the Sky Bet League 1 table while Brentford sit top.
Brentford: Button; Forshaw (Dallas 60), Craig, Dean, Saunders, Douglas, Donaldson, McCormack (Logan 67), Saville, Bidwell, Trotta (El Alagui 81).
Subs: Lee (GK), O'Connor, Fillo, Diagouraga.
Goals: Donaldson 2, Trotta 52, Saunders 58
Booked: Saville, Donaldson
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Hodson, Spence, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Smith (Alli 57); Carruthers, Reeves, Jennings (Baldock 62); Bamford.
Subs: McLoughlin (GK), Flanagan, Galloway, Banton, Kay.
Goals: Hodson 71
Booked: Smith, Carruthers, Potter, Baldock
Attendance: 8,010 (498 away)