- Tomer Hemed’s brace secures all three points
- Antony Kay pulls one back for MK Dons
- Kyle McFadzean sent off for the hosts
- Carl Baker misses a late penalty
Brighton & Hove Albion moved up to second in the Sky Bet Championship table after a 2-1 win over ten-man MK Dons at Stadium MK.
Tomer Hemed’s second-half brace was enough to secure all three points over the hosts, who had Kyle McFadzean sent off shortly after Antony Kay had brought the hosts back into the game.
It could have been very different for Chris Hughton’s men, when Carl Baker squandered the chance to earn the Dons a share of the spoils after he missed a late penalty.
The result means the Seagulls sit in the automatic promotion places with 71 points from 38 games, one clear of third-placed Middlesbrough who have a game in hand.
MK Dons had a chance to break the deadlock early on when Dean Lewington headed wide from a corner.
The hosts threatened again from a corner during the early exchanges, as Darren Potter’s low effort forced David Stockdale into a save on his line.
The hosts continued their bright start to the game, as Jonny Williams made a surging run into the Albion box, only to see his tame left-footed shot comfortably saved by Stockdale.
Albion created their first real attacking opening when Jiri Skalak was released down the right-hand side and his swerving cross was headed behind by McFadzean.
James Wilson was allowed to turn inside the area and Cropper was forced into a low save at his near post.
Bruno played in a superb looping ball towards Sam Baldock, but the latter’s strike was pushed behind by Cropper.
Down at the other end, Daniel Powell made a dangerous run towards Stockdale’s goal, but was denied from pulling the trigger after a brilliant last-ditch challenge from Liam Rosenior.
Hughton made his first change early in the second half by bringing on Hemed for Baldock, who appeared to leave the pitch carrying a knock.
Hemed made an immediate impact after he was brought down inside the box and Albion were awarded a penalty.
The Israeli international confidently dispatched the subsequent spot-kick, sending Cropper the wrong way and causing an eruption of noise from the 7,000 -plus Albion fans.
Hemed doubled Albion’s advantage just past the hour mark after he rose highest in the area to head home Skalak’s inviting cross beyond Cropper.
Wilson could have extended the lead further when he was set free down the left-hand side, but his shot hit the side netting.
Albion’s tails were up, as Jamie Murphy delivered a low cross towards the onrushing Wilson, but Cropper collected the ball.
Wilson was again involved in the thick of the action when he forced Cropper into another save.
Just as Brighton looked to take the game out of sight, the hosts brought themselves back into it, when Kay headed home from a set-piece with 20 minutes of normal time remaining.
But Karl Robinson’s side shot themselves in the foot after McFadzean was shown a red card for an elbow on Hemed.
The Albion striker came inches away from scoring a memorable hat-trick after he chested the ball down inside the box, but fired wide of the left post.
There was late drama in stoppage time as the linesman signalled for a handball inside the box and both Rosenior and Kazenga LuaLua were booked for protesting against the decision.
Baker stepped up to take the penalty, but his attempt was off target, much to the jubilation of Albion and their travelling support as the Seagulls claimed three crucial points.