MK Dons were edged out 1-0 by promotion-chasing Ipswich Town at Stadium MK.
Samy Morsy’s 26th-minute strike proved the difference and it came not long after the Dons had five close-range efforts blocked by the visitors within the matter of the seconds.
Mark Jackson’s side were able to keep themselves in the contest but despite plenty of effort, weren’t able to find a way through the Tractor Boys and earn themselves a share of the spoils.
As a result of the defeat, they remain 22nd in the Sky Bet League One table, two points adrift of safety heading into their trip to Lincoln City in midweek.
Jackson made two changes from the team which suffered defeat at Sheffield Wednesday, as Henry Lawrence replaced an injured Daniel Harvie and Dawson Devoy came in for Bradley Johnson. Ethan Robson was back fit and amongst the substitutes for the Dons.
They were forced back early on by their visitors, who threatened goal for the first time on three minutes. Fortunately for the Dons, Jack Tucker produced an excellent block to prevent George Hirst’s close-range effort getting through to Jamie Cumming.
Jackson’s men then created a good chance of their own through Sullay Kaikai down the right-hand side. His cross took a deflection but still looped into the path Mo Eisa, who wasn’t able to get a clean enough connection on his attempt to divert it past Christian Walton, who saved.
A minute later, Kaikai delivered again but saw his low ball, towards a lurking Eisa, blocked. At the other end soon after, Ipswich went close through Conor Chaplin, who fired just wide with a left-footed shot from 15 yards out.
The Dons, though, should have opened the scoring with their next attack on 10 minutes. Eisa worked space for a shot inside the area but had his attempt, and the follow-up, blocked by Ipswich defenders. Leko collected the loose ball but was somehow denied from close range and then Kaikai failed to beat Walton with two further shots on goal.
Looking to punish their hosts for failing to open the scoring, Ipswich went on the attack and earned themselves a free-kick on the very edge of the area. However, Leif Davis’ first strike was blocked by the wall and his second go was dragged wide.
Jules then produced a vital tackle inside his own box to prevent Hirst from being able to get a shot away. Nathan Broadhead’s strike, after picking up possession, was then blocked by the Dons defence.
On 22 minutes, the Dons worked another shooting opportunity, this one for Maghoma, who saw his strike on goal diverted behind off a Ipswich defender. Ipswich responded through Burns, who saw his tight-angled effort claimed by Cumming.
The visitors then took the lead with their next attack, as MORSY won possession inside the MK Dons half, drove to the edge of the D and rifled a shot past the outstretched arm of Cumming – an excellent individual goal from the Ipswich captain. 0-1.
Jackson’s side won a corner in response but despite two headers from Tucker and Watson, the ball ended up in the arms of Walton. Ipswich then worked a chance for a second but Tucker did just enough to prevent Chaplin from having a close-range effort on goal.
With 33 minutes played, Cumming kept out a deflected try by Nathan Broadhead. Dons midfielder Devoy then teed up Leko 20 yards from goal, but he couldn’t direct his shot on target.
Ipswich had the ball in the net for a second time on 43 minutes but the linesman’s flag was raised before Burns tapped in from Chaplin’s cutback – Chaplin the player penalised for offside.
In the final minute of the first 45, Walton flapped at a Maghoma corner but the Dons weren’t able to capitalise. They also had a free-kick in stoppage-time, though weren’t able to fashion a chance on goal, and therefore headed into the break a goal behind.
The visitors went about doubling that deficit within a minute of the re-start but half-time substitute Massimo Luongo fired over from the edge of the D, following a half-cleared long throw into the Dons box.
They had an even better opportunity to extend their lead moments later but, after Morsy was denied by Cumming, Broadhead somehow failed to convert the rebound, despite the goal being at his mercy.
Hirst was the next to threaten a second as Ipswich maintained their strong start to the second half – the striker’s long-range effort was turned over by the fingertips of Cumming. From the resulting corner, Burns glanced a header onto the roof of the net – the Ipswich number seven later drilled wide from 15 yards out.
The Dons bounced back from the flurry of chances to earn themselves a free-kick within range, courtesy of a foul on Kaikai. The winger picked himself to take the set-piece and wasn’t far away from finding the bottom corner with his low, bending strike.
Chaplin forced Cumming into a save at his near post on 65 minutes. Later, Maghoma dispossessed Hirst at the crucial moment with a well-timed tackle deep inside his own penalty area – a challenge he had to get right, and did.
Darragh Burns was Jackson’s first substitution on 73 minutes, replacing Devoy – a switch which saw Kaikai move central and Burns take his place out wide.
Jackson, and the Dons, had Cumming to thank for keeping the deficit at one with a quarter of an hour left to play as he denied both Chaplin and Davis. McEachran then came up with a goalline clearance from the corner that followed, denying Broadhead.
From a later corner, sub Kayden Jackson headed over. Head Coach Mark Jackson then went to his bench again, to introduce Nathan Holland in place of Leko. Holland was involved in providing Kaikai with a chance to deliver a teasing cross on 82 minutes – one that Eisa just wasn’t able to connect with.
Jules prevented Davis from putting the game to bed with a vital block with three minutes remaining in regulation time. The Dons then made their final change as Will Grigg came on for Eisa in attack.
Four minutes of additional time were added on at the end of the 90 and in the first of those, the Dons were awarded a free-kick. McEachran took it and was on target with his strike, but just wasn’t able to get it past Walton.
That proved to be their final opportunity at salvaging a draw, as the clock ran out on Jackson’s men at Stadium MK.
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson, Tucker, McEachran, Eisa (Grigg 88), Leko (Holland 78), Lawrence, Kaikai, Devoy (Burns 73), Jules, Maghoma.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Smith, Robson, Johnson
Booked: McEachran, Burns
Ipswich Town: Walton, Davis, Morsy, Woolfenden, Burns (Jackson 72), Chaplin, Burgess, Hirst (Ladapo 72), Humphreys (Luongo 46), Broadhead (Harness 90), Clarke (Donacien 89)
Subs: Hladky, Edwards
Goal: Morsy (26)
Booked: Humphreys, Chaplin
Referee: R Welch
Attendance: 14,046 (6,740 away)