HARTLEPOOL United took an unwanted place in the club’s history books with a 1-0 defeat at MK Dons heralding a 21st game without victory, writes Craig Hope.
The result leaves John Hughes’ side 13 points from safety at the bottom of League One and means the new boss has lost four of his five games at the helm.
Ryan Lowe fired the deciding goal early in the first half and it would have been more before the break had it not been for the heroics of Scott Flinders.
Pools’ task was made all the more difficult when defender Evan Horwood limped off with a groin injury after just four minutes.
The hosts had bossed the early exchanges and it came as no surprise when they took the lead on 16 minutes, Lowe afforded the freedom of the penalty area to volley home from Darren Potter’s lofted centre.
Pools were on the back foot and Jon Franks then gifted possession to Lowe only for the diving save of Flinders to spare his blushes.
It was all too easy for Karl Robinson’s side and Flinders denied Angelo Balanta a second when he got down low to claw clear the Colombian’s measured curler.
There was nothing the goalkeeper could have done to keep out Dean Lewington’s whipped free-kick soon after but the skipper’s effort nestled into the side-netting.
Stephen Gleeson slammed a long-range blast down the throat of Flinders just after the half-hour mark and the netminder was forced to gather at the second attempt.
The game was following a by-now familiar pattern and Flinders smuggled around the upright after Luke Chadwick, allowed time and space to pick his spot from 18 yards, sized towards the bottom corner.
It remained 1-0 entering the break and the second period took on much the same narrative.
Pools, though, did draw a save from David Martin when Charlie Wyke broke free before stinging the keeper’s palms with a vicious half-volley from the edge of the area.
Within seconds the Dons had threatened at the other end but Potter’s low drill skidded wide.
Still the home side searched for what was proving to be an elusive second and Flinders was not called into action until Chadwick zipped a low effort on target in the 70th minute.
Potter crashed a 12-yard steer against the crossbar two minutes from time after Zeli Ismail had jinked his way into the area, but it mattered not as the Dons saw home maximum points.