Nine-man MK Dons put in a mammoth home display to beat Peterborough United 1-0 and secure a massive three points.
The Dons had Joe Walsh sent off for a professional foul just nine minutes in but still managed to take the lead through Chuks Aneke’s right-footed effort.
Osman Sow was then dismissed for a high foot on 33 minutes but Robbie Neilson’s men were able to see out the remainder of the contest to record a memorable home victory.
Robbie Neilson made two changes from the side that was beaten 1-0 by Plymouth Argyle on Boxing Day. Scott Golbourne (hip) returned from a short spell on the sidelines while Ousseynou Cisse (knee) returned to the starting XI for the first time since 21st October. There was also a change in formation, with the Dons lining up 4-4-2.
Peterborough, who came into the game having won their last four matches in all competitions, started brightly and forced a corner just a minute in - a corner which was gathered by Lee Nicholls.
A chance for Sky Bet League One’s top scorer, Jack Marriott, arrived soon after but his strike was tame and Nicholls scooped up comfortably.
The Dons put together their first attacking move of the game in the sixth minute - a neat passing move down the left flank involving Osman Sow, Alex Gilbey and Scott Golbourne which resulted in the latter having a low cross cleared away.
Positive signs for Neilson and his men but they dealt a blow in the ninth minute when Joe Walsh was sent off for a professional foul on Jack Marriott. From a long ball forward, Marriott raced through on goal before drawing contact from Walsh and going down - referee Charles Breakspear deemed the foul worthy of a dismissal given that the Welshman was the last defender.
Eager to not let the decision affect their play, the Dons went straight on the attack after Marriott’s resulting free-kick sailed over the crossbar. They earned themselves a corner from which Cisse had a headed effort blocked and Ethan Ebanks-Landell fired a volley just wide of the target.
The Dons then created an even better opportunity to open the scoring on 17 minutes when Chuks Aneke sent Peter Pawlett free into the box. The Dons’ number 11 beat two Posh defenders inside the area but couldn’t keep his effort down when one-on-one with Jonathan Bond.
Looking to make their man advantage count, Posh threatened courtesy of forward Danny Lloyd, who stung the palms of Nicholls with a dipping volley. The Dons then went close through Sow and Pawlett, who were both denied in quick succession by Bond.
As they came crept towards the half-hour mark it was the home side, despite being down to 10 men, who were the more dominant and looked most likely to open the scoring.
They did just that with 27 minutes on the clock and it was talisman Aneke on the scoresheet. From a short corner, the forward collected a loose ball before rolling his man and drilling home his seventh goal of the season to give the Dons a deserved lead. 1-0.
Two minutes after falling behind, Anthony Grant wasted a half-decent opportunity for Posh, blazing over when well-placed from a Marcus Maddison free-kick.
What happened next left the Dons supporters and players inside Stadium MK furious as referee Breakspear produced his red card yet again to dismiss Osman Sow for a high boot despite the striker being well within his right to challenge for the ball.
Neilson had no choice but to put all nine of his outfield players and Nicholls behind the ball as they looked to see out the first half.
On 40 minutes, Michael Doughty curled a shot over the crossbar from 20-yards. Peter Pawlett then got in the way of a drive from Maddison before Aneke went close to bagging a dramatic second goal at the other end - his effort, however, was blocked.
The Dons successfully maintained their lead until half-time but when they returned they were without manager Neilson, who, during the interval, was ordered to watch the remainder of the game from the stands.
Posh saw a flurry of shots either blocked or sail over the crossbar early in the second half - the best of those chances coming on 57 minutes when Nicholls did well at his near post to keep out Lloyd’s low shot.
The Dons goalkeeper, who signed a two-year extension to his contract in midweek, then pulled off an even better stop to deny Maddison, whose 25-yard strike looked destined for the top left-hand corner.
Nicholls was at it again in the 61st minute, saving Marriott’s effort with his legs. From the resulting corner, Lloyd sent a low drive just wide of the left-hand upright.
The Dons continued to maintain their one-goal lead although Tafazolli threatened it with an effort from the edge of the area on 71 minutes which Nicholls saved and held.
Marriott sent a shot off target with a quarter of an hour remaining, just before Aneke was withdrew in place of Robbie Muirhead - the Dons’ goalscorer had clearly run himself into the ground.
Hearts were in mouths on 77 minutes when Maddison rattled the crossbar with a close-range shot but the Dons continued to hold firm. The Posh man also went close with a left-footed shot which grazed the right post on its way wide.
Nicholls was again on top form to get down and palm wide another long-range attempt from Maddison, as he and his defenders were able to see out the final exchanges - even despite nine minutes added time - to secure a morale-boosting success.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams, Ebanks-Landell, Walsh, Golbourne; Pawlett (Agard 84), McGrandles (Upson 84), Cisse, Gilbey (C); Aneke (Muirhead 76), Sow.
Unused subs: Sietsma, Wootton, Ariyibi, Seager.
Goal: Aneke (27)
Booked: Gilbey, Pawlett, Williams
Sent off: Walsh (9), Sow (33)
Referee: C Breakspear
Attendance: 10,304 (2,375)