Two goals in six first-half minutes from Mikael Mandron saw MK Dons beaten 2-0 by Crewe Alexandra at Stadium MK.
Mandron opened the scoring on 15 minutes, moments after Cameron Jerome had a goal disallowed for offside.
The Crewe striker then doubled both his and his side’s lead six minutes later – a lead that Russell Martin’s men weren’t able to overcome, as they failed to extend their four-game winning run.
The defeat – a first in five matches – saw the Dons fall one place to 13th in the Sky Bet League One table.
The Dons made three changes from the win over Doncaster Rovers, with Ethan Laird, Louis Thompson and Jerome replacing Matthew Sorinola, Scott Fraser and Will Grigg. David Kasumu was back in the squad for the first time since 19th December as a substitute.
Five minutes in, Andrew Fisher was called into action for the first time, producing a stunning diving save to keep out Mandron’s header from a Harry Pickering free-kick.
Martin’s men then had the ball in the net two minutes later but the goal was disallowed for offside – Cameron Jerome, the scorer, was just about in an offside position from Matt O’Riley’s cross.
The deadlock was broken on the quarter-hour mark when Crewe won possession on half-way and countered with a man advantage. Owen Dale and Mikael Mandron combined, with the latter converting from six-yards despite the best efforts of Harry Darling and Andrew Fisher to keep it out. 0-1.
Within six minutes, Crewe had doubled their lead - Mandron netting a second after bringing down a Kirk cross and rifling a shot past Fisher from a tight angle. 0-2.
Fisher soon had to prevent Tom Lowery from putting the visitors three goals ahead with a routine save. At the other end, the Dons had a chance to reduce the deficit but, following a surging run forward, Louis Thompson couldn’t combine with O’Riley.
Late in the first half, Daniel Harvie broke free down the left and delivered a low ball into the box. Laird did well to meet it but saw his effort blocked by a Crewe defender.
It was Crewe who had the final moment of the first half, with Kirk racing through down the left, only to be foiled by a combination of Warren O’Hora and Fisher. The visitors also had the first action of the second – Kirk, again, involved but this time he saw his shot blocked by a last-ditch tackle from Darling.
There was an opportunity for Jerome three minutes after the re-start, after he read a short back-pass and intercepted it in front of Will Jaaskelainen. The striker’s touch took him into a tight angle, though, and the chance, quickly, went begging.
The Dons' leading goalscorer had an even better chance moments later, following some excellent individual work from Laird. Jerome latched onto the wing-back's through pass and rounded Jaaskelainen but saw his effort on the unguarded goal cannon back off the post.
Crewe wasted a clear opening of their own shortly after, with neither Kirk nor Mandron able to trouble Fisher despite working their way deep into the Dons penalty area.
Martin was forced into a double change just before the hour, due to injuries for Jerome and Thompson. They were replaced by Grigg and Fraser while Kasumu also came on in place of Josh McEachran for his first appearance of 2021.
Fraser was involved in setting up a chance for O’Riley with 69 minutes on the clock – the midfielder’s left-footed strike curled just past the post.
Matthew Sorinola and Charlie Brown were the Dons’ final changes, with a quarter of an hour left to play. Grigg tried to tee up the latter almost instantly but saw his pass across blocked.
O’Riley fired over with a 79th-minute free-kick as Martin’s side continue to push for a way back into the match. Grigg also cleared the crossbar, with a right-footed attempt from 20 yards.
Harvie and O’Riley had later attempts from the edge of the area – the latter resulted in a corner from which Darling had a header saved by Jaaskelainen.
The Crewe goalkeeper then pulled off a terrific diving stop on 88 minutes to deny Brown, whose near-post header looked destined for the top corner.
Jaaskelainen also kept out stoppage-time efforts from O'Riley and Darling, as the Dons were unable to salvage even a goal from a disappointing day at Stadium MK.
MK Dons: Fisher, Jules, McEachran (Kasumu 60), Darling, Laird (Sorinola 73), O’Hora, Surman (Brown 74), O’Riley, Harvie, Thompson (Fraser 60), Jerome (Grigg 57).
Subs: Nicholls, Lewington.
Crewe Alexandra: Jaaskelainen, Pickering, Wintle, Lowery (Ainley 82), Kirk (Adebisi 72), Mandron (Porter 90), Lancashire, Offord (Daniels 90+1), Dale (Walker 72), Murphy, Beckles.
Subs: Richards, Wood.
Goal: Mandron (15, 21)
Referee: A Woolmer