Chuks Aneke's 50th career goal helped MK Dons to their third win in a row as they retook fourth spot in League 2 with a narrow 1-0 win over Cambridge United on Saturday.
In Dons' first competitive fixture at the Abbey Stadium, Aneke's 29th minute goal would prove to be the difference as he shrugged aside Brads Halliday to slot home past David Forde. But despite their disappointing league position, Cambridge forced the issue in the second period, with Jordan Houghton clearing one away from under his own bar, while David Amoo saw a shot zip just wide of the mark.
Following the Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Luton Town on Tuesday night, Paul Tisdale reverted back to the side which started the 3-0 win over Cheltenham a week earlier at Cambridge. Lawson D'Ath returned to the subs bench after a lengthy lay-off with an ankle injury, while Kieran Agard too had recovered from the knock which kept him out of last weekend's win.
On an unseasonably warm afternoon in Cambridge, early exchanges went the way of the home side who started brightly, but it was the visitors who would come closest to opening the scoring, with Rhys Healey testing keeper David Forde within the opening five minutes the best of the chances.
With the opening 20 minutes passing in fairly good nature, things began to heat up when Chuks Aneke was booked for a late tackle on Greg Taylor, earning boos from the home fans. As the tempers in the stands began to fire up, Brad Halliday and Jordan Houghton were perhaps fortunate not to join Aneke in the book, but Aneke's next involvement would be to fire Dons into the lead. Flicking the ball over his head, Aneke powered past Halliday, shrugging off his attentions before slotting coolly past Forde.
But Cambridge really should have been level within three minutes, but Ade Azeez somehow headed David Amoo's cross over the bar when it appeared easier to score.
The home side thought they had scored on the hour mark when Amoo's ball into the mixer appeared to be heading in, only for a brilliant clearance from under his own bar by Houghton to keep Dons in front. Cambridge certainly had the better of the play in the second period, winning a string of corners to hem Dons into their own half, but Nicholls remained relatively untested but for a long-range effort from Halliday.
Despite their pressure though, Cambridge couldn't quite make it count and it allowed Dons to edge back into the affair. There were cries for a penalty with 20 minutes to go when Healey felt he was fouled after Aneke had ridden a foul of his own to tee him up in the area.
The resurgence was short-lived though as Cambridge continued to throw everything forward in the latter stages, but the equaliser never did come, though O'Neil thought he'd done it when he fired through a crowd of players, only to see his effort kept out by Nicholls at the death.
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 5,106 (951)
Cambridge United: Forde, Halliday, Taft, Taylor, Deegan (Knowles 89), Amoo, O'Neil, Azaaz, Maris, Brown, John
Sub not used: Iron, Osadebe, Darling, Davies, Knowles, Worman
MK Dons: Nicholls, Walsh, Moore-Taylor, Cargill, Lewington, Williams, Houghton, Gilbey (Brittain 70), Watson (D'Ath 90), Aneke (Simpson 83), Healey
Subs not used: Moore, Hancox, Agard, Thomas-Asante
Booked: Aneke, Azeez, Deegan