Peterborough United finished 2017 in dismal fashion, losing to an out-of-form team who played with nine men for over an hour.
After the heroics of the Boxing Day win at Bradford City, this was a complete horror show, despite MK Dons suffering two red cards, one on nine minutes for Joe Walsh and another eight minutes before the break for Osman Sow.
But Posh appeared to have no clue how to break down a dogged, well-organised defence. Three substitutions were made reasonably early, but Posh created very few scoring chances and when they did fashion a shooting opportunity they found home goalkeeper Lee Nicholls in excellent form.
MK Dons were much the better side playing with 10 men and scored the winning goal on 27 minutes through Chuks Aneke whose 20 yard strike was deflected past Jonathan Bond in the Posh goal.
Even with nine men the home side held out reasonably comfortably.
Posh came into the game as huge favourites. Three wins in a row had taken them to the League One play-off places, while MK Dons hadn’t won since November 11 and had just one victory in their last 13 League matches.
And that favourite’s status firmed up after just nine minutes when Walsh was shown a straight red card for hauling Jack Marriott down as the division’s top scorer bore down on goal. It was a terrific pass from Andrew Hughes that freed Marriott, possibly the last decent pass Posh played in the match.
But Dons reacted better to a straightforward decision and could have scored twice before taking the lead.
Peter Pawlett first raced into the Posh penalty area onto a pass from Aneke, beat two defenders, but volleyed over the crossbar.
And Aneke and Pawlett were then denied by Posh ‘keeper Bond in rapid succession, the latter’s shot drew a particularly fine save.
But Dons kept coming forward and gained their reward when Posh fell asleep at a corner taken short. The first cross was repelled, but Aneke was on hand to fire home with the help of a slight deflection.
Posh continued to labour, but then referee Charles Breakspear sent off Dons forward Sow in the 37th minute for a high foot challenge on Ryan Tafazolli. It looked dubious until viewed in slow motion.
Posh immediately withdrew full-back Alex Penny and sent on striker Junior Morias, but so many poor decisions were made in attacking areas (shooting from distance, playing with no width), Dons coasted safely through to the break.
Not that MK manager Robbie Nielson stayed calm. He was sent to the stands for the second half, presumably after a conversation with Mr Breakspear
Naturally Posh dominated possession after the break, but their play was too frantic, too haphazard and usually ill considered.
And when they did manage to create a shooting opportunity it was usually from too far out or Nicholls proved a impenetrable barrier.
Nicholls saved well with his legs from Jack Marriott and Danny Lloyd, and at full stretch from a late Marcus Maddison strike. Marriott also headed just wide, but don’t be fooled into thinking it was constant Posh pressure.
Maddison’s right footed volley from eight yards rattled the crossbar, but Posh passed poorly and crossed the ball even worse.
Even nine minutes of added time to conuter some rather blatant, yet understandable timewasting, couldn’t save them. In that period Dons came closest to scoring when substitute Kieran Agard raced clear before blasting wide.
Posh: Jonathan Bond, Alex Penny (sub Junior Morias, 38 mins), Andrew Hughes, Steven Taylor, Ryan Tafazolli, Anthony Grant, Chris Forrester (sub Leo Da Silva Lopes, 46 mins), Michael Doughty (sub Jermaine Anderson, 61 mins), Marcus Maddison, Danny Lloyd, Jack Marriott:
Unused substitutes: Conor O’Malley, Idris Kanu, Liam Shephard, Lewis Freestone.
MK Dons: Lee Nicholls, George Williams, Joe Walsh, Ousseynou Cisse, Scott Golbourne, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Alex Gilbey, Peter Pawlett (sub Kieran Agard, 84 mins), Conor McGrandles (sub Ed Upson, 84 mins), Osman Sow, Chuks Aneke (sub Robbie Muirhead, 75 mins).
Unused substitutes: Wieger Sietsma, Scott Wootton, Gboly Ariyibi,, Ryan Seagar.
Goals: MK Dons - Aneke (27 mins).
Sendings off: MK Dons - Walsh (denying a goal scoring opportunity), Sow (Serious foul play).
Cautions: Posh - Forrester (foul), Tafazolli (foul).
MK Dons - Gilbey (foul), Golbourne (dissent), Williams (foul).
Referee: Charles Breakspear 6.
Attendance: 10,304 (2,375 Posh).