MK Dons were beaten 3-2 by Swindon Town at Stadium MK, falling out of the Sky Bet League Two play-off places as a result.
Paul Tisdale’s men went behind before half-time through Michael Doughty’s composed finish but levelled things up in style courtesy of Jake Hesketh’s stunning first goal for the Dons.
Swindon, though, responded within a minute to restore their advantage and then added to it shortly after from the penalty spot.
Kieran Agard struck with two minutes to play to set-up a dramatic finish but the Dons weren’t able to get back on level terms and salvage a result.t leaves them eighth in the Sky Bet League Two table, a point outside the play-off positions.
Deadline Day signing Jake Hesketh made his first MK Dons start as one of two changes made by boss Tisdale. The midfielder replaced Ryan Harley while Agard came in for David Wheeler.
The Robins started the brightest and an early effort from Doughty took a brave block from a Dons defender to prevent it testing Lee Nicholls between the sticks. Doughty managed to force Nicholls into a save with his next attempt and the Dons goalkeeper produced the stop.
MK Dons countered and Hesketh was involved, playing a ball into Agard inside the penalty area. The striker, with his back to goal, tried to make room for a shooting chance but was dispossessed by a Robins defender.
On seven minutes, Kaiyne Woolery saw a deflected effort palmed wide by Nicholls at his near post. From the resulting corner, Doughty saw a curling striker claimed by the MK Dons number 1.
Ryan Watson provided a threat shortly after with a low cross in from the right which Swindon were able to clear away. Watson was involved again the 10th minute, delivering another ball which was directed into the path of Agard by Chuks Aneke. Agard spun and shot but the effort was saved.
With a quarter of an hour on the clock, Swindon skipper Matt Taylor blasted an 18-yard shot well above Nicholls’ goal. MK Dons then enjoyed a spell of dominance and it resulted in a teasing cross Hesketh, which was just out of the reach of Agard rushing in.
Theo Robinson headed wide for the Robins at the 30-minute mark shortly before Tom Broadbent fired over from a corner. With their next chance, though, Swindon took the lead.
Doughty won possession inside the Dons penalty area and drove, unopposed, into the box before rolling an effort past a helpless Nicholls and into the bottom right-hand corner. 0-1.
MK Dons went in search of an instant response and both Aneke and Gilbey went close within a matter of seconds on 39 minutes - Aneke wasn’t able to connect with a cross in from the right and Gilbey, on the follow-up, saw his effort blocked.
A minute later, Hesketh saw a low ball across the face of goal grabbed by Lawrence Vigouroux, after getting in behind the Swindon backline. Gilbey, from the edge of the D, then had an attempt saved by the Swindon stopper.
It was the Robins, though, who would end the half in the ascendancy with Woolery striking the side netting and Robinson heading wide in stoppage time. The Dons did have a penalty appeal waved away moments before the whistle but referee Christopher Sarginson was unmoved after Hesketh’s tumble.
Doughty, the scorer of the opener, registered the first shot of the second half - a first-time drive from range which never troubled Nicholls. MK Dons then responded and Cargill sent a cross into the area which Vigouroux was just able to gather ahead of Aneke.
Aneke had an even better chance on 50 minutes after being played in by Hesketh. The frontman took a touch in the area before firing a shot towards goal - one which was saved by Vigouroux.
Shortly after, Gilbey connected with a cross from Russell Martin and sent a looping header towards goal. Vigouroux claimed. Hesketh then latched onto a low cross from Agard but saw his first-time effort blocked.
The shots kept coming, with Watson then next to test Vigouroux with a dipping half-volley sent in from 25-yards out. On 58 minutes, Gilbey drilled over, also from distance, before Tisdale made his first change of the game - replacing Houghton with Wheeler.
Moments after the change, the Dons pulled themselves back into the game and in came in style. Hesketh, on his first home start, cut in from the right and sent an unstoppable left-footed drive beyond Vigouroux and into the top corner of the net. 1-1.
The goal sent Stadium MK in delirium but their joy was short-lived as Swindon restored their lead within seconds of the re-start courtesy of another excellent finish - Anderson finding a way past Nicholls with a fierce right-footed strike. 1-2.
Tisdale’s men were forced to come from behind again and Gilbey almost produced a second leveller with a sweetly-struck volley but Vigouroux kept it out.
Their hopes, though, of salvaging a result were dealt a huge blow when Martin brought down Woolery on the edge of the area. Referee Sarginson deemed the foul to have occurred in the box and awarded the penalty which Doughty converted. 1-3.
With it all to do, Tisdale threw on striker Stephen Walker for his first appearance at Stadium MK. He went up top alongside Agard and Aneke, the latter of which had a shot tipped over moments after the substitution was made. From the resulting corner, Aneke had another effort stopped before had one deflected over.
The Dons did manage to reduce the deficit with two minutes to play as Agard raced onto a flick-on from Wheeler and drilled a shot under Vigouroux. 2-3.
Tisdale’s men huffed and puffed in the closing stages and went agonisingly close deep into stoppage time with Wheeler heading wide. They weren’t, though, able to find that third goal.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Martin, Walsh, Cargill; Watson, Houghton (Wheeler 59), Gilbey, Lewington; Hesketh (Walker 79); Agard, Aneke.
Unused subs: Moore, Baudry, Cisse, McGrandles, Harley.
Goals: Hesketh (59), Agard (88)
Attendance: 7,864 (1,258 away)
Referee: C Sarginson