Dons back into the automatics with win over Notts County
Two second half strikes saw MK Dons climb back into the automatic promotion spots, beating Notts County 2-1 at Meadow Lane on Good Friday.
After a goalless opening period, goals from David Wheeler and Chuks Aneke fired Dons back into the top three, capitalising on defeats for Tranmere and Bury. Jon Stead scored in stoppage time for County to little celebration.
The results elsewhere mean Dons are up to third in the table, with the worst case scenario now a play-off spot, secured with the win.
After suffering back-to-back defeats to promotion rivals, Paul Tisdale made one change to the side which lost to Tranmere, bringing David Wheeler back into the starting line-up, dropped Chuks Aneke to the bench. With six ruled out for the remainder of the season through injury, George Williams was back among the substitutes – his first inclusion in the squad since January 12.
With the sides battling at opposite ends of the table, it was a suitably tense start to the game, but Dons were doing the lionshare of the attacking. Wheeler was proving his worth in a starting role again, having seen one chalked off for a push early on, teeing up Kieran Agard before almost capitalising on a collision between County defender Robert Milsom and his keeper Ryan Schofield only for another defender to clear for a corner. Wheeler would get his moment later though.
With conditions ideal for a patient game, Dons looked like they were rushing everything. County provided little threat in front of goal, sending several efforts off target, looking every bit a team struggling at the foot of the table.
With Dons finding it difficult to carve themselves an opening though, Chuks Aneke was introduced on the hour mark, and within two minutes, Dons were ahead when Wheeler nodded home Dean Lewington's cross.
They should have doubled their advantage but for two strong stops from Schofield - first when Aneke skipped past Matt Tootle, and then when Agard cut back onto his right foot, having been unleashed by Aneke, only to be denied once more by the keeper.
County's chances were few and far between, the best of them coming from a header from veteran striker Jon Stead, which was well-saved by Lee Nicholls down low to his right.
The home side kept the pressure up and had to do better when Craig Mackail-Smith's low ball into the mixer was somehow kept out, but it sparked a counter attacked which put the game to bed. Unleashed on half way, Aneke ran half the length of the field, poking the ball one way around Ben Barclay, retrieving it on the other before rapping it home past Schofield five minutes from time.
Stead managed to steer a header past Nicholls in the final minute of stoppage time as County persisted late into the day, but it was the last of the action as Dons took the win.
Referee: Darren England
Attendance: 7,130 (985)
Notts County: Schofield, Tootle, Barclay, Boldewijn (Stead 65), Hemmings, Stubbs, O'Brien, Milsom, Rose (Gomis 79), Mackail-Smith, Doyle
Subs not used: Fitzsimons, Bird, Alessandra, Vaughan, Dunn
MK Dons: Nicholls, Lewington, Houghton, Martin, Brittain, Cisse, McGrandles, Harley (Watson 89), Hesketh (Aneke 60), Wheeler (Williams 81), Agard
Subs not used: Moore, Williams, Simpson, D'Ath, Walker