Ten-man MK Dons were unable to extend their unbeaten run in Sky Bet League One to seven games after they slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat at in-form Oxford United.
David Martin ensured the score remained at 1-0 in injury-time, saving a Chris Maguire penalty after Rob Hall had been fouled by Darren Potter, who was shown his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Robbie Neilson reverted back to the side that started against Bolton Wanderers with the exception of Stuart O’Keefe playing instead of Kieran Agard.
The game started at a frenetic pace and it was the Dons who created the first real chance – Harvey Barnes did brilliantly down the left and cut back to Chuks Aneke, who saw his effort from 12 yards well saved by Simon Eastwood.
At the other end, an incisive pass almost picked out Toni Martinez who, shortly afterwards, saw a shot blocked.
The men from MK1 were looking dangerous going forward and former U’s loanee George Baldock set up O’Keefe, who perhaps should’ve done better from inside the area albeit from a difficult angle.
As the game passed the 20-minute mark, there was a chance at either end – Martinez dragged wide before Ed Upson saw an effort deflect off target.
Although there was less ebb and flow to the encounter as the half-hour approached, Aneke did threaten from a 25-yard free-kick before Martin pulled off a stunning stop to deny Martinez from 20 yards.
Martin was more than up to the task again on 35 minutes as he gathered Hall’s effort before Paul Downing cleared away two teasing crosses in quick succession, as the hosts enjoyed a mini spell of pressure.
The Dons threatened in the opening minute of the second half but Barnes couldn’t get enough on his cross and the ball ran behind for a goal-kick.
Oxford did too just a minute later when Chris Maguire scuffed a shot wide following Hall’s cross from the left.
Hall almost broke the deadlock on 53 minutes when he sent a cross-cum-shot towards the back post but Martin was alert to tip over – Chey Dunkley headed wide the resulting corner as the hosts twice went close in quick succession.
Shortly afterwards, clever play from Aneke and Upson presented Maynard with an opportunity but the striker was crowded out after his initial touch 20 yards from goal.
Walsh controlled a cross before forcing a last-ditch block from 12 yards as the Dons enjoyed a spell of their own with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Eleven-goal man Kieran Agard was introduced as Neilson aimed to bring a fresh impetus to his side’s attack and he almost collected a knock-down inside the box.
The Dons were forced to do some defending as the game entered the final 10 minutes and they were holding firm until the 88th minute when Kane Hemmings headed home.
Martin ensured it remained at 1-0 when he saved Maguire's spot-kick after Hall had been upended by Potter, who will now miss Tuesday's match at Bury due to collecting a second yellow card.
Starting XI: Martin; Baldock, Downing, Walsh, Williams; Potter (c), Upson; O’Keefe, Aneke (Muirhead 79), Barnes (Ngombo 89); Maynard (Agard 71).
Unused subs: Nicholls, Tilney, Brittain, Bowditch.
Bookings: Walsh, Barnes, Potter (2), Williams.
Attendance: 9,179 (1,350 Dons fans).