MK Dons' home woes continued on Saturday afternoon after a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Crawley Town.
courtesy of goals from Andy Drury and Mike Jones, the former after just seven minutes.mkstadiumKarl Robinson's side failed to pick up three points for the sixth consecutive time at
The result saw the Dons fall to eighth in the Sky Bet League 1 table and slip nine points adrift of the play-off places with just four games remaining.
Having lost Stephen Gleeson to an ankle injury in mid-week, Robinson handed Mark Randall his first start since returning to MK Dons on a short-term deal.
Randall started alongside Dele Alli and Alan Smith in a midfield trio behind a strike-force which included Izale McLeod, who scored in the victory over Coventry City last weekend. Also making a start was youngster Brendan Galloway, who was called in on the day of the game to replace an injured Antony Kay.
The Dons, sporting black armbands along with their opponents in memory of the 96 football fans who passed away in the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago, made a bright start and McLeod had an early opportunity to get in-behind the Crawley back only for Paul Jones to race off his line and claim.
Despite the Dons’ positive opening, it was the side from Sussex who would strike first, courtesy of Andy Drury who, after just seven minutes, was allowed to run onto a through-ball, completely unopposed, and cooly slot past David Martin from the edge of the area.
An early Crawley goal was far from what Robinson and the Dons would have wanted when in search of their first home win in six games, although it could have been worse on 15 minutes when Josh Simpson latched onto a pass inside the area but, fortunately for the hosts, Galloway was able to prevent a shot with a well-time sliding tackle.
In the 20th minute, McLeod was presented with a glorious opportunity to level the scores thanks to an inch-perfect through-ball from Smith but the forward failed to beat Jones with an attempted lob.
Drury then drilled a weak shot straight down of throat of Martin as the visitors went in search of a second before Alli forced a good save out of Jones with a half-volley on the turn 10-yards out.
One player keen to impress in front of the Family Fun Day crowd was Randall, who was featuring in a game at stadiummk for the first time since a goalless draw with Brighton & Hove Albion back in 2010.
And the midfielder went close to marking the occasion with a goal but his near-post flick from a Dean Lewington cross hit the side netting which, despite appeals for a corner, resulted in a goal-kick.
With ten minutes to go until half-time, McLeod dragged a left-footed shot harmlessly wide of the goal from 20-yards before Lewington tried his luck with a drilled, long-range effort which was well held by Jones.
The Dons were by no means at their fluent best but, willed on by the home support, they continued to create openings in the hope of pulling level and finding that elusive home goal before the half-time whistle.
However, three minutes into first-half stoppage time, Crawley doubled their advantage from a counter-attack and created a mountain to climb for the men from MK1.
After Spence failed to deal with a hopeful through-ball, striker Jamie Proctor pounced and he showed great composure to draw Martin in before laying on a plate for Mike Jones to tap into an empty net.
Robinson sent the same 11 players out early for the second-half with Smith lining up alongside Lewington and Spence in a back three and Galloway and Baldock shifted out-wide as wing-backs. Martin also returned to the field despite going down with a dead leg before the break.
It was Robinson’s side that had the first opening of the second period after some perseverance from Randall allowed him to get around Joe Walsh inside the Crawley box but, in the end, the midfielder was denied a shot on goal by a sliding Jones.
Still without a goal before the hour mark, Robinson opted to make a triple substitution, bringing on James Loveridge, Giorgio Rasulo and Sanmi Odelusi in place of Galloway, Matty Kennedy and McLeod.
And five minutes after that change, the latter of three substitutes went close to pulling a goal back but, after reading George Baldock’s deep cross, the Bolton Wanderers loanee volleyed over.
Alli then saw a deflected shot skim into the arms of Jones before Powell failed to hit the target from the young midfielder’s corner in the 71st minute. Randall also tried to find a way past Jones with an ambitious volley which never troubled the Red Devils stopper.
With time running out, the Dons’ hopes of salvaging anything from the contest were looking bleaker and bleaker but Spence almost provided some optimism of a dramatic comeback when he drilled agonisingly wide from the edge of the area after a direct solo run which started inside his own half.
Crawley had spent the majority of the second period in their own half, obviously content with their two-goal margin, although they did threaten Martin’s goal with the final chance of the game but after turning Smith inside the box, Simpson’s shot was blocked by the former England man.
MK Dons (4-3-3): Martin; Baldock, Spence, Galloway (Loveridge 58), Lewington (c); Alli, Smith, Randall; Kennedy (Rasulo 58), McLeod (Odelusi 59), Powell.
Subs not used: Burns (GK), Hall.
Crawley Town: Jones, Sadler, McFadzean, Drury (Torres 78), Simpson (c), Walsh, Proctor (Fallon 88), Bulman, Jones, Dicker, P Connolly (M Connolly 10).
Subs not used: Maddison (GK), Tubbs, Monakana, Edwards.
Goal: Drury 7, Jones 45
Referee: S Bratt (West Midlands)
Attendance: 8,877 (338 away)
GoalDon Treble Chance Half-Time Jackpot Draw numbers: 11-06-04-07