ROVERS’ four-match unbeaten run came to a truly dispiriting end as they were ultimately well beaten at Stadium MK.

Gary Bowyer’s side were always going to be up against it after Adam Henley was controversially sent off in the 10th minute after he was adjudged to have brought down Josh Murphy in the box for a penalty which the two-goal Ben Reeves converted.

It was not until the second half, however, that they truly began to threaten the Dons’ goal. Jason Steele, in contrast, was busy throughout.

But just when it seemed Rovers were edging ever closer to an equaliser, Simon Church doubled the advantage in the 71st minute.

From then on it was a case of whether Karl Robinson’s team could cap their first Championship victory since August 18 with a third.

And, after more heroics from man-of-the-match Steele, they duly did that two minutes from the end of normal time through Reeves.

With the Dons desperate to end their seven-game winless run in all competitions, and their opponents determined to build on their success over Ipswich Town before the international break, both sides were swiftly out of the blocks.

There were just 50 seconds on the clock when the recalled Rob Hall forced Steele to turn his 20-yard effort past the post.

Rovers responded with a long ball over the top from Grant Hanley which Jordan Rhodes beat the outrushing David Martin to.

But while the foul occurred midway between the penalty box and the byline, the Dons goalkeeper incredibly escaped a booking.

Referee James Linington, however, showed no such leniency to Henley.

Hall threaded a pass between Hanley and Henley and toward Murphy, who got the wrong side of the Rovers right-back.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Henley did appear to impede the on-loan Norwich City winger. However, the first contact came outside of the area.

Linington pointed to the spot, though, and gave the Wales squad member his marching orders, with Reeves rubbing salt into the wounds by sending Steele the wrong way.

Livewire Murphy then went close with a shot that took a wicked deflection off Shane Duffy and flew into the side-netting.

Rovers, with Ben Marshall moved to right-back, were struggling to find a way back into the contest.

But they had a penalty appeal of their own turned down in the 21st minute when Kyle McFadzean cleaned out Rhodes off the ball.

Not long after irate Rovers boss Bowyer got a talking to from Linington.

And his mood would have darkened had it not been for Steele, who denied Jake Forster-Caskey with his feet after his defence had been opened up.

An inviting Conway cross just evaded Jordan Rhodes before the opening period was out but in truth, while certainly not helped by the atrocious officials, Rovers had offered little going forward.

And their task would have been made all the harder had Church shown more composure after he all too easily outmuscled Duffy.

After the restart Steele saved from Hall and then, quite superbly, from Church, even though the hapless Linington awarded a goal kick.

Rovers were improved, though, and only a brave block from Antony Kay prevented Conway from putting a finishing touch to a rapid breakaway instigated by Hope Akpan.

Rhodes went closer still when he got a firm header to a Conway cross with Martin flying to his right to keep the ball out.

Then it was the turn of Steele to be called into action, frustrating Reeves, before Hanley hacked Murphy’s follow-up off the line.

The action then switched back to the other end with Duffy having a header cleared off the line by Forster-Caskey after another goal-bound attempt from Conway was blocked behind.

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With the game so open the next goal was always going to be crucial – and, 19 minutes from time, it went the Dons’ way.

Murphy fired over a cross into the middle of the box where Church got in between Duffy and Hanley to plant an unstoppable header into the net.

There was no way back for Rovers now and after Murphy twisted Duffy this way and that and slid the ball inches past the post, he crossed for substitute Nicky Maynard, who would have headed home against the club he was on trial at in the summer had it not been for Steele.

But the overworked keeper was beaten again in the 88th minute as Reeves rounded off a brilliantly worked short-corner move.

MK Dons: Martin, Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington, Poyet, Forster-Caskey, Murphy (Carruthers 86), Reeves, Hall (Baker 63), Church (Maynard 77). Subs not used: Burns, Hodson, Powell, Gallagher.

Booked: Poyet, Hall.

Goals: Reeves 11pen, 88, Church 71.

Rovers: Steele, Henley, Duffy, Hanley, Olsson (Spurr 86), Marshall, Akpan (Delfouneso 68), Evans (Williamson 68), Conway, Lawrence, Rhodes. Subs not used: Raya, Kilgallon, O’Sullivan, Taylor.

Booked: Akpan, Marshall.

Sent off: Henley 10.

Referee: James Linington.

Attendance: 11,548 (1,371 away).