MK Dons were beaten 1-0 by Fleetwood Town in a frustrating contest at Highbury Stadium.
Promise Omochere scored on the stroke of half-time for the Cod Army, who were somewhat fortunate not to be a goal behind after Mo Eisa had a goal disallowed following a contentious offside call.
The Dons also had a penalty decision reversed in the second half as they failed to get themselves back on level terms, falling to a defeat which has them only two points clear of the bottom four in Sky Bet League One.
Warren O'Hora returned to the starting XI as MK Dons made two changes from their game in midweek. Sullay Kaikai also came in to the side while Paris Maghoma was declared fit enough to start after limping out of the defeat to Charlton Athletic.
Jamie Cumming was forced into an early save to keep out a header from a corner, before Jack Tucker got in the way of Jayden Stockley’s effort minutes later.
The Dons then had the ball in the back of the net through Mo Eisa, who finished well one-on-one but was denied by the offside flag. Jackson’s men came forward again with Kaikai but he was unable to work a shooting chance on the edge of the area.
Fleetwood threatened again midway through the first half but McEachran got a vital touch to Lewis Warrington’s 18-yard drive, sending it past the post. The Dons then forced Stephen McMullan into his first save – the young goalkeeper getting his feet to Jonathan Leko’s on-target strike.
Eisa dragged wide with 10 minutes to play until the break, moments before Phoenix Patterson was brilliantly denied by a fingertip save from Jamie Cumming. Eisa was involved again on 40 minutes, going down in the box after a push from Brendan Wiredu – referee Rebecca Welch, though, waved away the appeals for penalty.
That decision proved all the more crucial in the final minute of the first half when Fleetwood opened the scoring through OMOCHERE, who crashed a right-footed shot into the net, via the crossbar, from Jack Marriott’s through pass. 1-0.
Fleetwood enjoyed a dominant spell after scoring their goal but the Dons were able to get themselves to half-time without any further damage.
They started the second half brightly but were struggling to break down a Fleetwood team content on holding onto their goal advantage.
Eisa had a half-chance following a blocked Maghoma effort but he struggled to get any power behind his strike, which trickled wide of the post. Fleetwood then offered a reminder of their threat, hitting the post through Marriott on 51 minutes.
There was a moment of controversy with 21 minutes to play when referee Rebecca Welch pointed to the penalty spot following a handball, only to reverse her decision and award a free-kick instead. Eisa almost made the set-piece count anyway but his effort hit the side netting.
Stockley could have put the game to bed but put wide with a quarter of an hour left on the clock. The Dons then had four shots in quick succession kept out, first a McMullan save and then three sliding blocks from Fleetwood defenders.
Kaikai had a free-kick opportunity in the closing stages of the game but wasn’t able to beat the wall. The Dons pushed and pushed in the eight minutes of stoppage time that followed, though weren’t able to find a way through.
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson, Lewington, Tucker, O’Hora, McEachran (Devoy 62), Eisa (Grigg 81), Leko (Holland 61), Kaikai, Jules (Grant 61), Maghoma.
Subs: Ravizzoli, B Johnson, Lawrence
Booked: Watson, Kaikai, Maghoma
Fleetwood Town: McMullan, Wiredu, Vela, Stockley, Marriott (Hayes 88), Warrington (Batty 81) Omochere, Patterson (Quitirna 81), Rooney, Johnston, Earl (Nsiala 9).
Subs: Lynch, White, Brown.
Goal: Omochere 43
Booked: Rooney, Nsiala
Referee: R Welch