REPORT: MK Dons 1-0 Fleetwood: Dons make it three wins in a row
Chuks Aneke's strike two minutes before half time saw MK Dons win for the first time at Stadium MK since mid-September with a narrow but comfortable 1-0 win over Fleetwood Town.
Aneke's strike from just inside the penalty area was the only effort on target for either side during the 90 minutes, and though neither really took the game by the scruff of the neck, the home side had the better of the scant-few chances.
The result sees them move up to 15th in the table, closing the gap to the play-off spots to four points.
Robbie Neilson made sweeping changes once again after back-to-back cup victories. There were six changes from the side which started against Oxford United in their thrilling Checkatrade Trophy win at the Kassam, with Lee Nicholls, Chuks Aneke, Peter Pawlett, Scott Golbourne, Kieran Agard and Alex Gilbey coming into the side.
There really was little to separate the sides at Stadium MK in the opening half. Fleetwood's quick passing made little inroads to the Dons defence, with Ed Upson and Alex Gilbey sitting deep to add to the numbers in the back line, and Lee Nicholls had a fairly quiet opening 45 minutes.
At the other end, chances were few and far between too, despite having four attack-minded players up top. Peter Pawlett's long range header, which passed safely over the cross-bar was threatening to be their best chance.
But just two minutes before the break, Dons put together their best move of the game, and it resulted in them taking the lead. Alex Gilbey and Scott Golbourne played the ball back and forth between them on the edge of the box, and looked to have overcooked it, but it cannoned off Upson and into the path of Chuks Aneke, who in turn took on Cian Bolger before firing hard past Alex Cairns in the Fleetwood net to put the home side ahead.
The second half threatened to follow a similar pattern, but Dons had a glorious chance to wrap it up just past the hour mark. Kieran Agard was Dons' top scorer last season hasn't found the back of the net this term, and when he got on the end of Gboly Ariyibi's excellent ball across as the home side countered, his lack of confidence was clear to see as he took too much time before popping his shot off, seeing it into the side netting.
The game had the potential to burst into life though as time wore on, and Fleetwood's desperation began to build and they started to look a bit more lively in their chase for an equaliser.
But it left them open to be hit on the counter, and once again Dons had the best chance to wrap it up when Aneke found substitute Ryan Seager, who saw his effort blocked before Gilbey sliced his shot over the top.
While Fleetwood's huff and puff saw them spend much of the final 10 minutes hovering around the edge of the penalty area, they never really tested Lee Nicholls and Dons were able to comfortably reach the final whistle.
Referee: Brett Huxtable
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Wootton, Ebanks-Landell, Golbourne, Upson, Gilbey, Pawlett (Nesbitt 82), Ariyibi (Lewington 87), Agard (Seager 74), Aneke
Subs not used: Sietsma, Walsh, McGrandles, Thomas-Asante
Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Bell, O'Neill (Sowerby 69), Eastham, Hiwula, Dempsey, Burns (Hunter 61), Bolger, Glendon, Cargill (Ekpolo 61), Cole
Subs not used: Neal, Pond, Rodgers, Schwabl
Booked: Pawlett, Ebanks-Landell, Nesbitt