MK Dons' hopes of reaching the League 1 play-offs were dealt a blow as they were beaten 3-1 by promotion rivals Millwall at stadiummk.
Two second-half goals from evergreen striker Neil Harris gave the in-form Lions their sixth win in seven games to take them six points clear of the eighth-placed Dons. They remain two points behind Huddersfield in the final play-off position. Paul Ince's hosts looked to have turned the tide early in the second period when Aaron Wilbraham's deflected shot cancelled out Danny Schofield's first-half opener.
But they can have few complaints about stumbling eight points out of play-off contention as Kenny Jackett's side fully merited their hard-fought win. While undoubtedly possessing the attacking talent to seize control of games, the Dons seem to be lacking the conviction to truly dominate teams at present, even with the wind in their sails.
Though they enjoyed good spells of possession and territory against the Lions, they found themselves defending too deep during other periods of the game and struggled to build momentum as a result. Millwall sensed their hesitancy and seized on it like a predatory efficiency. Jermaine Easter is brought to earth by Darren Ward. &nbsp; Big, strong and hard to break down, Millwall don't often give you a chance to roll them over and it wasn't long before the Dons they would be in for a tough night.
Peter Leven's attempted header back to his goalkeeper was picked off by the opportunism of Harris, who would have opened the scoring just six minutes in had it not been for the rapid response of Willy Gueret. The home side were at least on the front foot, pushing Millwall back into their own half and defending high up the pitch to give their midfield an advanced starting position.
But their first mistake was punished superbly by Schofield, as Liam Trotter seized on some indecision by Luke Chadwick and Andros Townsend to feed the former Huddersfield striker. Schofield had only shooting in mind and, having side-stepped a defender 20 yards out, he curled accurately inside Gueret's left-hand post. It brought about a good response from the Dons, still up and at Millwall despite falling behind and Wilbraham and Jermaine Easter both threatened to escape in behind before Chadwick's well-struck shot was tipped around the post by David Forde.
But on-loan Ipswich midfielder Trotter, a scourge of the Dons last season with Scunthorpe, was starting to have an increasing influence on the game. Having bundled Leven out of possession on the half-hour, his pass to Harris should have brought a better finish.
The start of the second period brought the start the home fans wanted, but only after James Tunnicliffe had dived heroically in the way of a Chris Hackett shot to prevent Millwall doubling their lead. Good work from Easter all alone up front allowed the Dons to start and attack, with Dean Lewington and Leven joining in from the left. Leven's pass to Wilbraham had sufficient pace to allow the big striker to turn on it and his 20-yard shot deflected wickedly off Darren Ward before dropping in the corner.
Millwall seemed to have lost their way after that, firing balls a little aimlessly towards striker Steve Morison. But when Wilbraham was whistled for handling the ball out wide, the London side retook the lead. Hackett whipped the dead ball dangerously in from the right, Gueret lost out to the outstretched foot of Morison and despite Danny Woodards' goal-line clearance, Harris managed to force the ball over the line from close-range.
Ince threw bodies forward in search of another equaliser, but Millwall looked more than capable of exposing the subsequent gaps in their armour - Schofield drawing another fine save from Gueret on 66 minutes. Ince threw Dean Morgan and Jude Stirling on as the Dons tried to crank up the pressure late in the day, but instead it was Millwall who finished them off.
David McCracken was only inches away from turning sub Scott Barron's free-kick inside his own post and, from the resulting corner, Harris won an unchallenged header before ramming the loose ball past an unsighted Gueret. Paul Robinson sees off the danger of Dean Morgan. &nbsp; Ironically enough, with the game dead and buried, the Dons had three clear chances to hit back - Easter twice failing to hit the target from close range and Morgan dragging wide after turning Robinson well.
But they will travel to Yeovil on Saturday knowing that time is running out for them to get a run together.
MK Dons (4-4-2): Gueret; Woodards (Stirling 78), Tunnicliffe, McCracken, Lewington (c); Townsend, Carrington, Leven, Chadwick (Morgan 74); Easter, Wilbraham.
Subs not used: Gobern, Davis, Howell, Randall, Flanagan.
Goals: Wilbraham 54 Millwall (4-4-2): Forde; Dunne, Robinson, Ward, Craig; Schofield (Fuseini 90), Abdou, Trotter, Hackett (Barron 74); Harris (Obika 90), Morison.
Subs not used: Frampton, Grabban, Sullivan, Grimes.
Goals: Schofield 19, Harris 61, 85
Booked: Robinson, Morison
Attendance: 10,610 (1,371 away)
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire)