Darlington 1 Milton Keynes Dons 0
The game began brightly with two sides looking determined and there were early chances. In the second minute on-loan defender Mark Albrighton set Darlington striker Martin Smith on a charge forward and he unleashed a strong shot from outside the penalty area that was saved by visiting keeper Lee Harper.
There was a booking for the Dons - Izale McLeod who brought down Darlington winger Neil Wainwright in the third minute of the game.
The visitors launched their own attack in the fifth minute through midfielder Gareth Edds, who fired in from just outside the penalty area and saw his shot go narrowly wide.
As the game ebbed and flowed Wainwright found space down the right in the seventh minute and he almost brought in Simon Johnson with a low cross into the area that was saved by Harper.
The second booking of the game came in the 17th minute when Keltie hauled down Edds midway inside the visitors half and then in the 22nd minute Darlington striker Alun Armstrong curled the ball inches wide with an effort from the edge of the area.
The home side should have taken the lead in the 26th minute when Micky Cummins was sent clear by Brian Close, but his' poor shot was easily saved by Harper and the chance was gone.
The home side went down to 10 men in the 28th minute when Keltie brought down Keith Andrews to end a promising Dons attack and referee Hayward showed him a second yellow card before brandishing a red to signal the dismissal.
Surprisingly Darlington didn't lose their rhythm despite their loss and they took the lead in the 37th minute when Wainwright popped up at the far post to drill a low drive beyond Harper after the Dons defence had failed to clear from Johnson.
Just before the interval McLeod was replaced by Scott Taylor and the move almost paid dividends when, a minute before the interval, Taylor broke clear inside the area but his shot was turned around the post by Russell.
The second half belonged to the visitors who tried to put their one man advantage to good effect. But a combination of Russell's goalkeeping and stout defending preserved the Darlington lead.
In the 61st minute Andrews went closest to an equaliser when his shot from just inside the area beat Russell but rebounded back off an upright.
And, with time running out for the visitors, striker Clive Platt had two good headers on goal that were off target.