MAYBE it was fate that on Shrove Tuesday, the Shakers would take a battering.

Had it not been for Giles Coke's silly sending off moments before the break or indeed referee Darren Drysdale's failure to spot a clear push on Cameron Belford by Dons defender Mathias Kouo-Doumbe that could have warranted an earlier red card, a different story may well have unfolded.

But although Ryan Amoo had supplied a shock lead for Richie Barker's side after just 10 minutes, it didn't take long before things fell as flat as the proverbial pancake.

And while the scoreline read 2-1, it could and should have been more for Karl Robinson's play-off contenders.

It's now 12 games without a clean sheet for the Shakers, who leaked an equaliser to Dean Bowditch before going down to 10 men, before the same striker converted a penalty in first-half stoppage time.

There were early signs of danger for the Shakers as Mark Hughes was forced to scramble off his own line from Dean Bowditch's downward header.

But quite against the run of play, Ryan Amoo's perfectly-timed run was found by Steven Schumacher's through ball, and the on-loan Liverpool winger scooted round David Martin to roll home his second goal in as many games and his fourth of the season.

Normal service was quickly resumed, however, and with winger Daniel Powell causing a menace down the right, Cameron Belford soon found himself under intense pressure.

And sure enough, on 20 minutes he could do little but parry Charlie MacDonald's header into the path of Bowditch at the far post to bury the equaliser.

The home side pressed for a second and MacDonald came close when he got round Belford before bouncing his shot off the base of the post.

The game took a controversial twist before the break when shortly after Belford had palmed a Steven Gleeson shot from under his own crossbar, Kouo-Doumbe appeared to push the Shakers keeper in the chest in the build-up to the corner.

Had the French defender been spotted by referee Darren Drysdale, it could have been punished with a red card.

Instead, it would be the Shakers who went in with a man disadvantage as Coke compounded his previous poor challenge on Gleeson by needlessly pulling back Powell on the edge of his own box.

A minute later, and former Manchester United man Alan Smith was felled by Belford, leaving Bowditch to send the keeper the wrong way from the spot and hand his side a half-time lead.

The Dons settled for what they had in a second half of little incident, save for a swerving shot from sub Jay O'Shea that whistled just wide and a header from MacDonald that landed on the roof of the net.

And they nearly paid dear as a Mark Hughes poked his toe to a floated ball from Skarz in stoppage time and steered his shot inches wide.

MK Dons (4-4-2): Martin, Taverner, Gleeson, Williams, Lewington, Powell, Kolo-Doumbe, Smith, Potter, Bowditch, MacDonald.

Subs: Ibhere 46 (for Gleeson), O'Shea 73 (for Powell), Chadwick 88 (for Bowditch) Not used: McLoughlin, Chicksen.

Shakers (4-5-1): Belford, Picken, Hughes, Sodje, Skarz, Amoo, Carrington, Schumacher, Coke, Sweeney, John-Lewis.

Subs: Worrall 48 (for Sweeney), Eastham 60 (for Picken), Harrop 76 (for Schumacher) Not used: Elford-Alliyu, Williams.