A STIRRING second-half comeback – sparked by Steve Fletcher’s arrival from the bench – helped Cherries preserve their unbeaten home record at the expense of fellow high-fliers MK Dons.

Trailing to Sean O’Hanlon’s 45th-minute header, Cherries put behind them an indifferent first-half showing and turned on the style after the break to register their fifth league win at Dean Court this season.

O’Hanlon nodded the Dons in front in first-half stoppage time before Cherries levelled through Danny Hollands’s flicked effort 11 minutes into the second half, his first goal of the season coming just minutes after Fletcher had come off the bench.

Anton Robinson then headed Cherries into a 65th-minute lead, the midfielder nodding Marc Pugh’s corner home from close range. And Fletcher provided the assist for Pugh to make it 3-1 with a glancing header after 71 minutes.

The Dons set up a grandstand finish when Peter Leven netted from the penalty spot to make it 3-2 with four minutes remaining after Hollands had been judged to have brought down Angelo Balanta, who was later sent off for violent conduct.

The visitors appealed in vain for a penalty after Sam Baldock had gone to ground following a good, old-fashioned shoulder charge from Marvin Bartley just four minutes in.

Adam Smith, restored to the Cherries starting line-up following his one-match ban, then fired narrowly wide as the hosts carved out their first shooting chance.

The Dons responded when Luke Chadwick’s effort flew past the upright following a sweeping move instigated by the lively Balanta.

Pugh’s 25-yard free-kick sailed past the post before Dons pair Jermaine Easter and Dietmar Hamann both received bookings.

Although the two sides worked diligently in an attempt to create goalscoring chances, neither was overly successful until first-half stoppage time. The Dons opened the scoring from the first corner of the match when O’Hanlon arrived at the far post to power Leven’s flag kick past Shwan Jalal.

Fletcher replaced Bartley seven minutes into the second half – and Cherries were back on level terms just four minutes later.

Pugh’s grass-cutter free-kick from 25 yards, which appeared to be heading wide, was flicked past Dons goalkeeper David Martin by Hollands.

Although the goal galvanised Cherries, it was the Dons that went close to retaking the lead when Sam Baldock’s snapshot was cleared off the line by Ryan Garry.

However, after Smith’s piledriver had struck a defender and gone out for a corner, Cherries edged ahead through Robinson.

The midfielder rose, seemingly unchallenged inside the six-yard box, to nod Pugh’s precise delivery past a stranded Martin.

And the Dons defence was again rather conspicious by its absence as Cherries forged further ahead through Pugh just six minutes later.

Cherries’ summer signing from Hereford was afforded the freedom of the 18-yard box, picking his spot inside the far post to head home Fletcher’s cross from the right.

Peter Leven threw the Dons a lifeline when he scored from the penalty spot after Hollands had been judged to have brought down Mathias Kouo-Doumbe four minutes from time.

Cherries (4-4-2): Jalal; Smith, Garry, Pearce, Wiggins; Robinson, Hollands, Bartley (Fletcher, 52), Feeney; McQuoid, Pugh.

Unused subs: Cummings, Bradbury, Partington, Cooper, Taylor, Stewart (g/k).

Dons (4-4-2): Martin; Doumbe, O’Hanlon, McKenzie, Woodards (Guy, 72); Chadwick, Hamann (Gleeson, 35), Leven, Balanta; Easter (Ibehre, 61), Baldock. Unused subs: Wilbraham, Chicksen, Carrington, Searle (g/k).

Booked: Easter, Hamann, McKenzie, Leven.

Sent-off: Balanta.

Referee: Roger East (Salisbury).

Attendance: 6,715.