Darren Bent and Tom Ince struck in the dying stages to secure Derby County’s third successive away win with a 3-1 success over MK Dons.

Darren Bent and Tom Ince struck in the dying stages to secure Derby County’s third successive away win with a 3-1 success over MK Dons.

In a game largely dominated by the hosts, Bradley Johnson opened his Rams account with a strike from the edge of the area, but the visitors were soon pegged back by a fluent Dons side as Josh Murphy squeezed home a left footed shot.

With time ticking, though, and a draw looking the most likely result, Bent struck his first goal of the 2015/16 season with a minute to spare, before Tom Ince wrapped the result up with a precise finish in injury time.

In the build up to the game the message from within the Rams’ camp was clear – ‘we need to be on the front foot from the off’.

Instead, for large proportions of this contest, it was Karl Robinson’s side that dictated, controlled and carved out the better openings.

With the opening 15 minutes Anthony Kay and Chris Martin spurned similar opportunities from set pieces, before the hosts thought they had opened the scoring after a flowing move that was capped off by Simon Church, only for the assistant referee on the far side to raise his flag to chalk off the effort.

A menace throughout, Church later saw a goal bound volley blocked by Carson, before Josh Murphy, on loan from Norwich City, curled over from a simple set piece routine.

The Rams, though, always looked a threat on the break – firstly indicated by Martin who saw a cross shot saved by his namesake, David Martin, after Paul Clement’s side had pinched the ball just inside the home side’s half.

Robinson’s side always maintained control of the contest, forcing Derby into errors and zipped the ball around the Stadium MK pitch with the fluency and vibrancy that has characterised the club over the last few years.

Dean Lewington, the Captain, poked into the side netting as the first half neared its conclusion, but it was Derby that could have stolen a half time advantage, but Ince fired over with his right foot after superbly taking Johnson’s firm pass.

The opening goal of the fixture, in truth, came out of nowhere. Neat play down the left saw Stephen Warnock with time and space to pick out a cross and that he did as he cut the ball back to Johnson on the edge of the area to finish low into the bottom corner.

The lead lasted a matter of seven minutes, though, as MK Dons hit back on the hour as Murphy, after taking several touches, finished beyond Carson after the Derby backline failed to deal with a left-wing cross.

The home should have edged in front minutes later after confusion in the backline saw Church with time and space to pick out a cross into the six-yard area. The forward, fortunately for the visitors, lost his composure and played a hard ball behind Murphy for what would have been an easy tap in.

Carson then soon came to the rescue as he tipped Lewington’s header from a tight angle on to the post and that proved to be the last chance of the MK Dons storm as Paul Clement’s side began to grow into the contest.

At the other end, Ince fired wide, first time, from Martin’s lay off, before Johnny Russell cracked the top of the crossbar with a fierce strike from range, but with the contest looking likely to finish all square, the Rams struck.

With their brightest move of the contest, Ince scampered down the left hand side of the 18-yard box to latch on to Jeff Hendrick’s pass to cut back into the feet of Darren Bent to poke beyond Martin.

The home side threw everything at Derby in a desperate attempt to snatch a late point. A weak punch by Carson forced Cyrus Christie to hook the ball off the line, before Derby went up the other end to inflict further damage on the hosts as Ince pickpocketed a defender and dispatched his low effort beyond Martin.

MK Dons: Martin; Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington (C); Poyet, Forster-Caskey; Baker (Bowditch, 85), Reeves (Hall, 79), Murphy; Church (Maynard, 67)

Substitutes not used: Burns, Hodson, Powell, Gallagher

Derby County: Carson, Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Baird (C) (Hendrick, 68), Butterfield (Weimann, 62), Johnson, Ince, Russell, Martin (Bent, 79)

Substitutes not used: Grant, Forsyth, Hanson, Shotton

Attendance: 13,544 (3,844 Derby supporters)

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