Salford City fell to their third successive league defeat as a ruthless MK Dons outfit ran riot at the Peninsula Stadium.

Lively winger Joe Tomlinson netted twice after the interval for the visitors as Neil Wood’s side failed to build on a positive first-half showing.

MK Dons came flying out of the traps and were rewarded for taking the early initiative on 10 minutes as the ever-lively Max Dean scored for the sixth time in seven games.

The striker received the ball inside the right-hand channel of the Salford box before checking inside and rifling the ball past a sprawling Alex Cairns into the roof of the Ammies goal.

Although the away side were good value for the early lead, Salford quickly began to grow into the game and went in search of an immediate response.

Matt Smith was denied a goal in his 500th professional appearance as Craig MacGillivray got down low to turn the attacker’s downward header around the post.

From the following corner, Curtis Tilt rose highest at the back post to connect with an out-swinging delivery, the centre back’s looping header appeared to be destined for the top left corner only for it to be blocked on the line.

Salford continued to probe the MK Dons defence and made the pressure count ten minutes before halftime. Following a neat exchange down the right-hand side a Theo Vassell overlap gave Connor McLennan the time and space to pick out youngster Kelly N’Mai at the back post. The attacker converted the cross from close range with a diving header.

N’Mai was once again at the centre of the action as Salford took the lead moments before the break. As the fourth official signalled for two minutes of additional time the pacey winger drove past MK Dons defender Cameron Norman into the box.

After initially being beaten the defender quickly looked to recover challenging for the ball through the back of N’mai. Much to the disdain of the travelling support, referee Scott Jackson adjudged that Norman had felled the attacker and pointed to the spot.

Despite being taunted by away fans behind the goal Ben Watson calmly dispatched from twelve yards to give Salford a 2-1 lead going into the break.

Although the lead would not last for long. MK Dons once again started the brighter and scored a controversial goal of their own.

Following a potential foul in the build up, Salford were made to pay for sloppy defending, the back line vacated the left-hand side leaving Tomlinson in acres of space to receive a ball played from midfield by Alex Gilbey. The attacker had time to compose himself before firing through the legs of Cairns to equalise five minutes into the second half.

Tomlinson’s second of the game would come a quarter of an hour later. The attacker was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce off Declan John. The Salford defender looked to intercept a poor pass forward but only managed to divert it into Tomlinson’s path. The attacker moved the ball onto his favoured right foot before curling high into the top left corner.

Neil Wood struggled to inject energy into Salford’s laboured second-half attacking, with a decimated bench the Ammies lacked a source of quality to come on and impact the game. As the encounter wore on the away side looked ever more likely to score the next goal.

MK Dons did exactly that with minutes left on the clock. Substitute Elis Harrison picked up the ball on the half-turn before driving forward to strike low past Cairns into the bottom right corner sealing a deserved win for the away side.

With this loss Salford have slipped to 17th place in the league table MK Dons pulling five points clear of the Ammies.

In the midst of a tough run of fixtures and facing a mounting injury and suspension list there is no reprieve for Neil Wood’s side as the team take on top of the league Stockport County this Tuesday.

Salford fans will be able to take some solace from today’s defeat in the performance of Kelly N’Mai who looked to be a source of attacking inspiration throughout the game.

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