Report: Dons 1-3 Derby County
Karl Robinson’s men dominated the first half but fell behind at the start of the second period when Bradley Johnson swept home.
The men from MK1 responded brilliantly and levelled matters through Josh Murphy, a goal they threatened to build on numerous occasions.
However, Dons’ hearts were broken in the 90th minute by former England striker Darren Bent, who tapped home from close range. Ince added a third with the late kick of the game.
Jake Forster-Caskey was handed his debut while Ben Reeves made his first start for almost a month after recovering from injury.
The best chance of an even opening 10 minutes to Antony Kay, who lifted his effort over the top after the ball had fallen to him 12 yards out, albeit at a difficult angle.
Reeves and Carl Baker saw shots blocked as the Dons looked the more likely while, at the other end, Chris Martin shot straight down the throat of his namesake – David.
The men from MK1, continuing to have the better of things, had a goal ruled out on 17 minutes when Simon Church was adjudged to be offside as he swept the ball home after latching on to a clever Forster-Caskey pass.
Josh Murphy sent two efforts wide of the target shortly afterwards in the midst of a strong spell from the Dons, who were controlling possession as the midway point of the first half approached.
Another smart move created a chance for Church, who was brilliantly denied by Scott Carson from close range before the ball was frantically cleared.
On the break, Tom Ince fed Martin but the Dons’ stopper was more than up to the task, saving the low drive with his legs. That was a rare foray forward for Paul Clement’s men, who were under pressure from the vibrant hosts.
Church couldn’t quite meet Dean Lewington’s dangerous delivery with the majority of the game continuing to be played in Derby’s half.
A sublime piece of skill from Jordan Spence started another move for the men from MK1, beating Johnny Russell, driving forward and picking out Reeves, whose shot flew behind via a deflection. Lewington guided an effort into the side-netting from the resulting set-piece.
The last chance of a Dons-dominated half fell to Derby and Ince, who lifted the ball over Martin from a tight angle after being freed down the right.
With the first real opportunity of the second half, Derby took the lead when Bradley Johnson stroked home Stephen Warnock’s cross on 54 minutes from 15 yards.
But the Dons were deservedly level on the hour mark when, following some good play in midfield, Church crossed for Murphy, who took a touch and fired under Carson from 12 yards.
Cutting in from the right, Baker sent a fierce effort just past the right-hand post before Church couldn’t find Murphy after breaking free down the right.
The Dons’ response was brilliant and the crowd were almost cheering again a few minutes later but Lewington’s header came back off the post via a superb save from Carson.
Ince came close to restoring the visitors’ lead on the break, receiving the ball of Martin before curling an effort just past the post from 25 yards.
Nicky Maynard and Rob Hall were introduced as Robinson opted to freshen things up going into the final stages with both sides going for the winner.
Russell crashed an effort against the crossbar with just over five minutes remaining but they went ahead in the 90th minute when Bent tapped home Ince’s cross.
The Dons once again fought back and only a goal-line clearance and some last-ditch defending denied the men from MK1 an equaliser.
Ince’s smart finish with the last kick of the game put a harsher look on the scoreline.
MK Dons: Martin; Hodson, Kay, McFadzean, Lewington (c); Poyet, Forster-Caskey; Baker (Bowditch 85), Reeves (Hall 79), Murphy; Church (Maynard 67).
Unused subs: Burns, Hodson, Powell, Gallagher.
Goals: Murphy (60).
Attendance: 13, 554.
Referee: Christopher Kavanagh