Jon Nolan’s first-half goal was the difference as MK Dons were beaten 1-0 by Ipswich Town at Stadium MK.
Nolan struck 12 minutes into the contest and despite a dominant second-half display, Paul Tisdale’s men were unable to restore parity.
The Dons’ first defeat in four games in all competitions sees them drop to 11th in the Sky Bet League One table, but they are just two points adrift of the top six.
Boss Tisdale handed Brennan Dickenson his first league start for MK Dons as one of two changes to the side which beat Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. Hiram Boateng was the other addition while there was a place amongst the substitutes for Alex Gilbey, who missed the trip to Lancashire through injury.
Joe Walsh was forced into an early defensive header moments before Lee Nicholls gathered a return ball into the area. It was Jordan Houghton who had MK Dons’ first foray into an attacking area but miscommunication between him and Conor McGrandles saw the chance go begging.
The first real strike on goal didn’t arrive until the ninth minute when Flynn Downes fired over from 25 yards out. An opportunity fell to James Norwood shortly after, following Kayden Jackson’s knockdown, but the Ipswich striker had his effort blocked by Russell Martin.
Ipswich did take the lead with their next attempt on goal, however, as Nolan nipped in at the near post to divert Emyr Huws’ cross beyond the outstretched arm of Nicholls and into the bottom right corner. 0-1.
Nicholls kept the deficit at one on 18 minutes as he stood firm when facing a one-on-one with Jackson, getting enough in the way of the effort to keep it out.
The Dons had a chance to draw level midway through the first half when Dickenson whipped a ball over to the far post. George Williams met it but couldn’t keep his header down.
Ipswich threatened a second with seven minutes to play before the interval, as Kane Vincent-Young got to a low Jackson cross. He, though, put wide from 10 yards out.
Williams had an even better opportunity just prior to the half-time whistle but, from McGrandles’ cross, he failed to get any power behind his volley. Nombe was alert to the loose ball but couldn’t pounce.
Boss Tisdale made a double substitution at the break, bringing on Jordan Bowery and Callum Brittain in place of Dickenson and Walsh.
The pair were forced into some defending early as Ipswich sub Will Keane tested Nicholls from distance with a right-footed strike – the Dons number 1 was up to the test.
Brittain and Bowery were then involved at the right end of the pitch but the latter, who had a clear sight of goal, was just an inch behind the former’s through pass.
In the 57th minute, Nicholls got down well to his left to deny Downes. The Dons then forced a corner from which McGrandles had a low drive saved by Tomas Holy. Bowery latched onto the parry but couldn’t fashion a chance. The striker did get one away on 64 minutes and forced a diving save out of Holy.
With 14 minutes to play, Kasumu sent a curling shot wide of the target from 20 yards out after a dominant spell inside the Ipswich half.
The Dons were spending a large portion of the second period inside the Tractor Boys half but they did have to be wary of their hosts on the counter. Edwards threatened with an effort on one such counter but Williams pulled off a vital block.
Their best chance arrived on 81 minutes. It was Houghton who controlled his first-time volley well but saw the attempt deflected wide by the right boot of Holy.
Agard came off the bench with five minutes to play as Tisdale made his final roll of the dice. His strike partner soon flashed a right-footed curling shot wide from the edge of the area.
In the final minute of regulation time, Houghton had a goal-bound free-kick saved by Holy. Poole then headed over from a Houghton corner as it proved not to be the Dons’ night in front of their home faithful.
On to Saturday, where they will look to make it three wins from four against Southend United.
Starting XI: Nicholls, Williams, Walsh (Brittain 46) Poole, Dickenson (Bowery 46), Martin, McGrandles, Houghton, Boateng (Agard 85), Nombe, Kasumu.
Unused subs: Moore, Lewington, Gilbey, Harley.
Referee: L Swabey
Attendance: 10,167 (3,360 away)