Tomer Hemed nets brace to send Brighton back into top two with MK Dons win
Substitute Tomer Hemed scored twice as Brighton moved back into the Sky Bet Championship automatic promotion places with a 2-1 win over 10-man MK Dons, who missed a stoppage-time penalty.
Middlesbrough's 1-0 win over Hull on Friday night saw them replace Brighton in the top two and it was looking like it may stay that way with the game at stadium:mk goalless early in the second half.
But Hemed's introduction in the 52nd minute quickly paid off as he scored the opening goal four minutes later from the penalty spot before making it 2-0 just after the hour mark.
MK Dons did pull a goal back through Anthony Kay and, despite Kyle McFadzean's sending off two minutes later, the hosts could have snatched a dramatic draw only for Carl Baker to miss his stoppage-time penalty.
It was a miserable end to a forgettable week for the Dons, whose midfielder Samir Carruthers was fined two weeks wages and suspended for Saturday's match for his part in an incident at the Cheltenham Festival this week. A national newspaper appeared to show Carruthers and Shrewsbury striker James Collins, currently on loan at Northampton, urinating into a glass and the latter throwing the contents over a balcony.
The hosts would have been hoping to make a positive impression following that and they were the first to threaten on Saturday with Dean Lewington heading just wide early on.
Minutes later Karl Robinson's side tested the gloves of David Stockdale in the Seagulls goal, as another corner from Josh Murphy was headed down by Kay into space on the edge of the box before Darren Potter's powerful half-volley was smothered by the keeper.
It took the visitors until the 36th minute to test MK keeper Cody Cropper, as a quick counter-attacking move led to James Wilson forcing him into a save.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton introduced Hemed as a second-half substitute seven minutes after the restart and it took the 28-year-old Israel international just 10 minutes to turn the game on its head.
Hemed, who came on in place of former Dons academy player Sam Baldock, won his side a penalty after he was brought down by a clumsy challenge from Potter and the striker stepped up himself to smash the Seagulls in front.
And just six minutes later Hemed bagged his 15th goal of the season after Jiri Skalak's inviting cross to the back post was met with a bullet header by the former Real Mallorca star.
But the Dons gave themselves hope of a fightback in the 70th minute when Murphy whipped in a fizzing cross from the left-hand side which found Kay in the box and he headed home past Stockdale.
However, the hosts shot themselves in the foot less than a minute after scoring when McFadzean lost his cool and elbowed Hemed directly in front of the referee immediately after the restart, and the official had little choice but to show the Dons defender a straight red card.
The home side could still have claimed a last-gasp leveller, though, after being awarded a penalty on the stroke of the 90th minute for a handball in amongst a crowded Brighton penalty area.
But second-half substitute Baker stroked his kick agonisingly wide as the Seagulls hung on for the victory.