Second-half goals from Daniel Powell and Jabo Ibehre guided MK Dons into the League 1 play-off places as Tranmere Rovers became their latest victims at Fortress stadiummk.
League 1's most potent home force chalked up a deserved third consecutive 2-0 win on their own patch, shaking the life out of a determined early effort from their Merseyside opponents. Karl Robinson's men simply got stronger as the game went on, restricting Tranmere to mere glimpses of goal while threatening to cut loose at times at the other end.
And the respective conversions from Ibehre and Powell will be additionally pleasing for the Dons boss following the January sales of Aaron Wilbraham to Norwich and Jermaine Easter to Crystal Palace. Neither were missed as Ibehre, whose first league goal of the season came at Exeter last week, added a second in as many games, and Powell continued to strengthen his budding reputation with a fine opener.
Following Easter's sale to Palace, Jemal Johnson's release and Michael McIndoe's recall to parent club Coventry this week, Robinson was grateful for the timely loan arrival of Rowan Vine on the morning of the game.
But even with the QPR striker at his disposal, the Dons boss was only able to name five substitutes, owing to the additions of Sean O'Hanlon, Sam Baldock and Mark Carrington to the injury list. Having started their two most recent home games at break-neck speed, the Dons were frustrated by Tranmere in the early exchanges - Les Parry's side pressing relentlessly and crunching into tackles with vigorous aggression. It took until the 13th minute for either side to register an attempt - Ibehre's overhead kick just off target after Danny Woodards had retrieved a Peter Leven free-kick.
Tranmere, while well organised, lacked a potent threat in attack, that despite the deployment of talented youngster Dale Jennings just off Enoch Showunmi up front. The visitors thought they should have had a penalty on the half-hour as Joss Labadie tumbled in the box under pressure from Gary MacKenzie. But having seen his appeals waved away by referee Kevin Wright, the former West Brom midfielder's frustrations were only intensified when he was booked for a dive on the edge of the box seconds later. Labadie had been involved in a skirmish with Leven shortly before that and it served to stoke the home side's fires as they took control in the lead-up to half-time.
Leven and Dean Lewington orchestrated a fine, patient passing move on 34 minutes that ended with Guy and Chadwick carving Tranmere's defence in two and Guy's final ball was only lacking a willing finisher in the middle.
They were even closer moments later when Powell, ghosting off his right flank, reeled in a firmly-struck pass from Leven with wonderful poise, rounded keeper Tony Warner and was only denied from a tight angle by Mark McCrystal on the goal-line. It was a spell Tranmere must have expected at some point and they were hanging on by half-time - Powell denied by another goal-line clearance, this time from Aaron Cresswell, before Guy was denied the chance to test Warner by Michael Kay's last-ditch tackle.
If the break came at a bad time for the hosts, you would never have known it as they burst out of the interval and hit the front 14 seconds after the restart. In truth the visitors played a part in their own downfall, Ash Taylor found desperately wanting as Ibehre outmuscled him on the left side of the box.
But the rest was all about Powell, who showed remarkable composure to stride confidently onto the striker's pull-back and slam into the net from just inside the box. Tranmere's response was a positive one - Jennings seeing a lot more of the ball as he roamed to wide positions - and Zoumana Bakayogo threatened a riposte when his curling effort bent just wide.
But Powell's confidence was at the other end was soaring and the touch and pass he produced to put Guy clear moments later - duly dispatched but flagged offside - was quite something to behold. Jennings again tried to spark a Tranmere response on 57 minutes as he back-heeled beautifully for Cresswell to draw a good save from David Martin. But the Dons, and Ibehre in particular, were tuning up a spell to finish off the game. Robinson introduced Vine to intensify the pressure and as it grew the visitors backed away, giving Ibehre all the encouragement he needed to advance further and further forward.
It eventually paid dividends on 70 minutes when Lewington clipped a pass into the striker's feet, Taylor was again unable to hold onto him, and Ibehre rolled powerfully inside before wrapping a fine finish inside the far post. From there the avoidance of complacency became the obvious priority, though Powell continued to show flashes of his undeniable potential as he tormented Tranmere's defence down the right.
There was even a chance to introduce second-year scholar George Baldock for his second league appearance towards the end, and Sam's younger brother almost burst clear in stoppage time. The Dons will be back here on Tuesday looking for a tenth home win of the season when they host Plymouth Argyle and few would bet against them on this form.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Woodards, MacKenzie, Kouo-Doumbé (Chicksen 79), Lewington (c); Gleeson (G. Baldock 90), Leven; Powell, Guy (Vine 67), Chadwick; Ibehre.
Subs not used: Searle, Hamann.
Booked: Woodards, MacKenzie
Goals: Powell 46, Ibehre 70
Tranmere Rovers (4-4-2): Warner; Kay, Taylor, McCrystal, Cresswell; Elford-Alliyu (Thomas-Moore 74), Welsh (c), Labadie, Bakayogo (Fraughan 78); Showunmi, Jennings (McGurk 84).
Subs not used: Collister, Wood, Akins, Morrow.
Booked: Welsh, Taylor, Warner
Attendance: 8,014 (304 away)
Referee: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire)