Ten-man MK Dons produced a stunning second-half comeback to beat league-leaders Rotherham United 2-1 at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Rotherham, who were unbeaten in 10 and hadn’t lost at home in September, took the lead in controversial fashion – a Daniel Barlaser penalty following a foul that earned Daniel Harvie a red card.
Despite their disadvantage, Liam Manning’s men fought back and two goals in the space of two minutes from Harry Darling and Mo Eisa saw them snatch all three points – a result that keeps them within touch of the top two in Sky Bet League One.
MK Dons made two changes from last weekend’s win over Bolton Wanderers as Daniel Harvie and Josh McEachran returned to the starting XI in place of Kaine Kesler Hayden and David Kasumu.
The Dons had a brilliant opportunity to open the scoring just 90 seconds in but, after being played in by Scott Twine, Troy Parrott saw his shot saved by the feet of Josh Vickers.
On nine minutes, Tennai Watson beat Joe Mattock to a ball on the far touchline and was able to drive into the area. He then found Mo Eisa, whose heavy touch allowed a Rotherham defender to get across and clear.
A vital interception from Warren O’Hora prevented Chiedozie Ogbene’s low cross from finding a teammate, as Rotherham offered their first threat soon after. Jamie Cumming was then forced into his first save – an excellent reaction stop with his right hand to keep out Michael Smith’s header.
Smith went for a goal again in the 21st minute and saw his low drive skid wide of the right post. The hosts were, though, able to take the lead moments later – albeit in controversial circumstances.
Despite half-hearted appeals from the home side, referee Marc Edwards adjudged Harvie to have fouled Ogbene as the two chased down a loose ball and, after awarding the penalty, showed the MK Dons defender a straight red card. Barlaser then compiled the frustration by converting from 12 yards. 1-0.
In response, the Dons produced an excellent passing move to create an opportunity for Eisa, 20 yards out, but he fired over. Oliver Rathbone then fired wide for the hosts, in search of a second.
Manning’s men came forward again with six minutes to play in the half but Parrott, after working his way deep into the Rotherham box, wasn’t able to pick out a teammate and the chance went begging.
Both teams had final opportunities before the end of the. The first went the way of the home team but Freddie Ladapo somehow failed to connect with a cross in from the right. Then, Eisa found himself a whisker away from meeting Josh McEachran’s teasing cross.
Half-Time – Rotherham United 1-0 MK Dons
Four minutes into the second half, Manning went to his bench and replaced McEachran with Kasumu in midfield.
His side showed no signs of giving up on the contest and three minutes before the hour, they levelled the scores.
Twine’s initial corner was cleared but only as far as Dean Lewington, who sent the ball back into the mix and onto the head of an alert Darling, who was free and able to power home an equaliser. 1-1.
The Dons, though, weren’t done there and within two minutes of restoring parity, they found themselves front.
Kasumu won possession deep in the Millers half and immediately played in Eisa, who opened up and curled a right-footed shot around Vickers and into the far corner of the net. 1-2.
Ogbene had an opportunity to pull the hosts level but blazed high and wide from inside the area. The Dons, soon after, made a second change, bringing Kesler Hayden on for Parrott.
Cumming was on his toes to gather two teasing crosses in the box either side of the 72-minute mark. He then watched wide a headed attempt from substitute Joshua Kayode.
With six minutes to play, an improvised effort from Smith bounced just past the right post. The Millers striker then volleyed one wide following a delivery in the opposite flank.
There were several more balls into the box after that but the Dons, as they had done throughout, stood firm and saw out the remainder of the contest, which included six minutes of stoppage, to secure a famous victory.
Full-Time – Rotherham United 1-2 MK Dons
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson, Lewington, O’Hora, Darling, Twine (Boateng 85), Eisa, Coventry, McEachran (Kasumu 49), Parrott (Kesler Hayden 70), Harvie.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Smith, Corbeanu, Kemp.
Goals: Darling (56), Eisa (59)
Booked: Lewington, Kasumu
Red card: Harvie (24)
Rotherham United: Vickers, Harding, Mattock, Barlaser (Kayode 75), Wiles, Ladapo (Bola 80), Ogbene, Ferguson (Osei-Tutu 68), Rathbone, Ihiekwe, Smith.
Subs: Johansson, Wood, MacDonald, Odoffin.
Goal: Barlaser (25 pen)
Referee: M Edwards
Attendance: 9,731 (608 away)