A brace from Liam Boyce and a second-half strike from Oliver Sarkic saw MK Dons beaten 3-0 by Burton Albion at Stadium MK.
Boyce opened the scoring with a diving header midway through the first half before Sarkic doubled the advantage with a well-struck curling effort on 53 minutes. Boyce then rounded off the win with a low drive in stoppage time.
The defeat – the Dons’ fourth straight in the league – saw Paul Tisdale’s men fall two places to 17th in the Sky Bet League One table, eight points adrift of the top six.
Boss Tisdale was forced into three changes from the side which lost 2-1 at Sunderland due to injuries to George Williams, Jordan Houghton and Sam Nombe, albeit Williams was fit enough for the bench. In came Joe Walsh, David Kasumu and Hiram Boateng while there were spaces amongst the substitutes for the returning Baily Cargill and Matthew Sorinola.
Burton produced the first effort of the game inside the opening minute - Liam Boyce with a shot deflected wide of the target. From the resulting corner, Reece Hutchinson fired an ambitious long-range drive over the bar.
MK Dons responded with Boateng driving into the area from a neat Conor McGrandles pass. The midfielder came away with a corner which Burton were able to deal with.
Gilbey was then brought down on the edge of the area providing Dean Lewington with an opportunity to deliver a cross. The visitors failed to initially deal with the ball in but were able, in the end, to get it away.
The MK Dons number 8 was at it again shortly after, sending in a teasing low cross which goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara was able to smother ahead of Jordan Bowery. Tisdale’s men were causing all sorts of problems early on with their direct running through the middle of the park.
Despite their positive start, a miss-kick from Lee Nicholls almost gifted the Brewers an opening goal. Fortunately for him and the Dons, Ryan Edwards couldn’t find the target – with Nicholls deserving credit for putting the midfielder under pressure and forcing the off-target shot.
On 12 minutes, Bowery produced a save out of O’Hara with a first-time strike from Callum Brittain’s low cross. At the other end, Martin denied Scott Fraser with a crucial sliding tackle moments before Boyce headed Hutchinson’s deep cross wide of the left upright.
Bowery did well again moments later, driving down the left and beating his marker before delivering a low ball in towards Kasumu, which O’Hara intercepted. Poole made a vital block himself to deny Hutchinson during the visitor’s next attack.
A second opportunity fell the way of Edwards in the 21st minute and, again, the Burton midfielder couldn’t capitalise. While a tougher effort than the first, Edwards would have wanted to at least tested Nicholls with his unopposed strike from 10 yards out.
Martin, on the slide, cut out a later Burton cross which looked to be falling perfectly for Boyce on the edge of the six yard area. The Dons almost took the lead from a cross of their own on 27 minutes, but Gilbey couldn’t re-direct Lewington’s delivery on target.
Five minutes later, the deadlock was broken and it was the visiting Brewers who edged in front. Oliver Sarkic’s low ball across goal was met by Boyce, whose diving header found its way past Nicholls and into the bottom right-hand corner. 0-1.
Akins threatened an immediate second for Burton but dragged his left-footed shot well wide of goal. The Dons then went agonisingly close to an equaliser but Martin couldn’t turn home from Lewington’s free-kick.
With four minutes to play in the half, Boyce drew a diving save out of Nicholls with a long-range drive. The MK Dons number 1 produced another crucial stop a minute later to keep put Nathan Broadhead, who was one-on-one inside the area.
Tisdale’s men returned from the break with a change to their XI – Dylan Asonganyi came on to replace Martin in a move which saw the side switch to a 4-4-2 formation. Walsh, a member of that four-man backline, was forced into a vital clearance inside his own six-yard box as Burton threatened first in the second half.
In response, McGrandles tried his luck from distance but saw his effort blocked. Kasumu then fired in a cross which was gathered by O’Hara.
Their task, though, was made even harder on 53 minutes when Sarkic received a pass while wide open on the edge of the area. He had time to take a touch before curling a left-footed shot around Nicholls and into the top left-hand corner. 0-2.
Nicholls prevented Edwards making it three with a strong save down to his left. Moments after, Fraser saw a left-footed drive deflected just wide of the target.
Tisdale made his second substitution on the hour mark, replacing Gilbey with the returning Cargill. His side threatened down the right on 65 minutes but Brittain’s shot was a comfortable one for O’Hara to deal with.
The Dons got in again a minute later, as Asonganyi wrestled his way around a Burton defender to latch onto Bowery’s flick-on. The young striker went for goal despite the tight angle and could only find the side netting.
Tisdale’s final change saw Moore-Taylor enter for his first league appearance since January.
He also pushed Walsh forward to form a three-man attack and Welshman had an instant impact as he poked a ball through for Bowery, however he wasn’t able to beat O’Hara when one-on-one. Walsh also connected with a McGrandles corner but his looped flick was gathered by O’Hara.
Nicholls then denied Brewers sub – and former Don – Dyer after a quick counter attack before McGrandles got in the way of a goal-bound attempt by Boyce.
The MK Dons keeper denied the visitors once again in the final minute of regulation but wasn’t able to keep out Boyce’s low drive in stoppage time – the wrap on a disappointing afternoon for the Dons at Stadium MK. 0-3.
MK Dons: Nicholls, Lewington (c) (Moore-Taylor 76), Walsh, Poole, Gilbey (Cargill 60), Bowery, Martin (Asonganyi 46), McGrandles, Brittain, Boateng, Kasumu.
Unused subs: Moore, Williams, Dickenson, Sorinola.
Burton Albion: O’Hara, Edwards, Wallace, Fraser, Broadhead (Dyer 72), Akins (c), Hutchinson (Anderson 90+2), Sarkic (Sbarra 84), Nartey, O’Toole, Boyce.
Unused subs: Bywater, Daniel, Buxton, Templeton, Anderson.
Goal: Boyce (32), Sarkic (53)
Referee: O Yates
Attendance: 9,111 (564 away)