Just a point now separates Dons and the final automatic promotion spot as they crushed Leyton Orient 6-1 on Saturday.
With Preston dropping yet more points on Friday night after a 2-2 draw with Port Vale, Dean Bowditch got things going for the home side after a cagey opening 20 minutes, but from there the floodgates opened as Dons romped to a 4-0 lead by half time. Rob Hall netted twice, while Will Grigg converted a penalty before the interval.
Hall completed his hat-trick just before the hour mark, before Jay Simpson pulled one back for Orient with a superb individual effort. But the last laugh was left to Dele Alli, who made it six with 10 minutes to go, meaning just a point separated Dons and Preston in second spot with three games to go.
After the comfortable 3-0 win on Tuesday night against Fleetwood, Karl Robinson made just one change to his starting line-up, with Dean Bowditch replacing Daniel Powell on the left flank.
Dons started uncharacteristically slowly for a home game. Orient, desperately fighting for their lives on the brink of the relegation zone, were showing a lot of tenacity in midfield, and prevented Darren Potter from getting his time on the ball. While they created nothing in the way of chances, their suffocating of Dons made it much more troublesome than Dons would have hoped.
But that all changed at the midway point in the first half with a quick fire trio to put Dons firmly in control. Bowditch tapped Dons into the lead from close range after great inter-play between Dele Alli, Rob Hall and Will Grigg unlocked the Orient defence.
Two minutes later, it was 2-0 though there was a lot of confusion as to who put the ball in. Orient appealed furiously for offside as Grigg appeared in front of keeper Alex Cisak to flick home Rob Hall’s cross. However, the referee and his assistant both allowed the goal, and replays suggested he didn’t get a touch.
It was three just five minutes later when Alli, skipping through the Orient defence, was scythed down in the area. Will Grigg made no mistakes from the spot to make it 3-0.
But the cream of the crop came nine minutes before the interval courtesy of a Rob Hall bullet. Already in showcase mode, Dons were playing one-touch football over across the pitch, with Alli and Lewis Baker at the heart of it. Working from the left to the right flank, the ball was zipped in to Grigg on the edge of the box, and though his touch allowed an Orient defender to get a touch, the loose ball was rammed home by Hall from 25 yards out to extend the lead to four.
After having a slow start to the game, Potter’s influence grew dramatically with each of the goals as Orient let slip their previously tight game plan. He was a part of everything Dons did in consummate ease, though the highlights were left to the young trio of Alli, Hall and Baker in front of him.
Orient began the second half in a similar vain to the first, but just like in the first, saw all of their ambition crushed by Rob Hall as he completed his hat-trick. Yet more excellent one-touch build-up play saw Baker slip the ball to a waiting Hall on the edge of the box, who calmly slotted into the bottom corner.
With the game more than over, Robinson withdrew Grigg and the sensational Potter with 26 minutes to go, replacing them with Devante Cole and Tom Hitchcock.
On a torrid afternoon for the visitors, Jay Simpson was the only one earning his keep for Fabio Liverani’s side. Having tested Martin and sent a low drive wide already, mere half chances, he decided to do it all himself to get one back for Orient. After racing into the box, he spun away from goal, only to turn back and unleash an unstoppable effort into the far corner, beating Martin all ends up.
Back at the other end, Lewis Baker took over as lead orchestrator for Dons, but when he found himself 25 yards out and urged to shoot by the goal-hungry crowd, duly obliged but saw his strike come off the upright.
The opposite post would actually help in Dons’ sixth goal as Alli got his second in as many games, coming short to pick up Lewis Baker’s corner, before bending the ball around Cisak’s helpless dive with nine minutes to go.
Lewis Baker has looked every bit destined to tread a path to the Premier League, and his performance against Orient once again highlighted his ability. Replacing Potter in the centre, he was left frustrated once again as he struck the woodwork again, this time with the help of Cisak’s finger-tip save from range.
Referee: Christopher Kavanagh
MK Dons: Martin, Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington, Potter (Cole 64), Alli, Hall, L Baker, Bowditch (C Baker 77), Grigg (Hitchcock 64)
Subs not used: Burns, Hodson, Green, Powell
Leyton Orient: Cisak, Cuthbert, Baudry, James, McAnuff (Hedges 69), Lowry, Clarke, Bartley, Dagnall (Plasmati 60), Simpson, Taylor
Subs not used: Omozusi, Mooney, Batt, Wright, Sargeant, Hedge