Gillingham manager Steve Evans felt the red card decision on Saturday was a game-changer.
The Gills boss had no issues with the first yellow for Stuart O’Keefe - and was disappointed to see his player booked for throwing the ball away - but questioned the second which led to a penalty. MK Dons got back into it from a goal down and against 10 men ran out 4-1 winners.
“It was a game-changer,” said Evans. “We got a goal, we missed chances to get a second, Kyle Dempsey could have perhaps scored within the first couple of minutes of the game. It was end to end and when we went forward we were causing them problems.”
Vadaine Oliver put the Gills ahead but O’Keefe was penalised for a foul that led to a penalty. He was sent off for a second bookable offence and MK scored as a result - netting on the rebound after keeper Jamie Cumming had saved the spot-kick.
The Gills struggled for the rest of the half, going 2-1 behind, but they made changes for the second 45 that gave them hope only to concede two more late on.
Speaking about O’Keefe’s dismissal, Evans said: “I have no complaints with the first yellow card for Stuart, but does the second one have to be a yellow? Is any contact a yellow? That made it really difficult for us.
“It was bad defending for their second goal, we came through it second half and tried to affect it in a more positive fashion and to take the game to them. For 15 minutes or so we had them on the rack to be fair.
“Second half we decided we would rather lose heavily than not have a go and we did have a go, we put a young man on the pitch (Gerald Sithole) who could stretch them and give us a focal point with Vadaine.
“We took it to 80 odd minutes and we are well in the game and then they get a wicked deflection to make it 3-1 and then it is game over. I couldn't ask for any more of the 10 players who at any stage were on the pitch. They have given us absolutely everything.
“Eleven versus eleven against MK Dons is difficult because they are a passing side, I think when we went 1-0 up there was only one team who looked like winning the game, we gave them a lot more problems than they gave us.
"They were playing 20 passes across the back and the halfway line, that pleases nobody but their chairman, he is the only one happy with it, that is not sour grapes, they ran out good winners but they have had some help along the way.
“We missed a couple of chances, they seemed to take theirs when they came and they had a bit of luck with the sending off, with the penalty, with the deflection for the third goal, they got a bit of luck from John (the referee) all over the day.”