MK Dons ended Rochdale's 11-game unbeaten run and strengthened their own hold on a League 1 play-off place with a thumping 4-1 win at Spotland Stadium.
The Dons carried an impressive 3-0 lead at half-time as Rowan Vine opened the scoring in the 15th minute with his first goal in Dons colours before Daniel Powell converted his eighth of the season. The strike of the game though came seconds before the interval when Stephen Gleeson hit a brilliant 25-yard volley.
Rochdale, now&nbsp;13th in the table, did their best to recover but Craig Dawson's goal in the 82nd minute was little more than a consolation when Dons substitute Sam Baldock added a fourth from the penalty spot in the closing stages.
Daniel Powell fires in MK Dons' second against Rochdale
Dale were busy from the offset, looking to&nbsp;hustle for every ball, with particular focus down their right-hand side where Nicky Adams looked to carve openings. After playing a poor cross from the channel, Adams improved his delivery in the third minute for Jean-Louis Akpa Akrpo's point-blank header to call on a fine stop from David Martin. Had the ball crossed the line it would not have stood for the home side as the referee spotted an infringement in the build up, but it was an early warning for Robinson's men.
Rochdale did not have it all their own way though, Luke Chadwick, once again impressing in his free-roaming role in midfield, called Owain Fon Williams into action with a scuffed effort as Dons grew into the game.
Rochdale adopted for a route one style when Fon Williams' long punt downfield allowed Matt Done to pick up the knock down only to drill wide from the left of the Dons box. The movement of Adams caused the Dons' backline a few problems as he found a way through to collect O'Grady's pass, but as he was lining up to shoot a well-timed sliding challenge by Kouo-Doumbe cleared the danger.
From there the Dons stunned Rochdale with a lightning quick counter-attack that pulled the Dale defence out of position and overloaded their final third. Powell had the vision to pick out a cross for Vine and the QPR-loanee tucked home a superb volley the near post to fire the Dons into the lead with quarter of an hour on the clock.
Rowan Vine wheels away in celebration
It was a lesson in finishing by the former-Luton and Birmingham City striker, and a clinical edge was something Done needed minutes later when he found himself in acres of space on the 18-yard line and was able to take a touch on the pass from O'Grady but failed to convert.
Once again Dale were counting the cost of the Dons' ability to hurt them on the break when they doubled their lead through the ever-improving Powell. As Dale tried to keep up Chadwick spotted Powell advancing on his right and found the perfect ball to thread through for Powell, who did not need a second invitation to pick out the back of the net with a fine right-footed finish.
The difference between the two teams was the Dons converting their chances while Dale continued to find life in front of goal frustrating. Akpa-Akpro did his best to claw a goal back as he got a neat flick-on from a corner at the near post, but Martin got low to stop and when O'Grady did his best to stab home the follow-up the Dons 'keeper refused to be beaten.
Rochdale had put on a solid performance, however, they were dealt another blow on the stroke of half-time when Dons extended their advantage to three with the last kick of the half. Gleeson, who scored his first Dons goal only a month ago, demonstrated unbelievable skill as Fon Williams clawed away Keanu Marsh-Brown's cross to the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international.
Gleeson was positioned 25-yards out, but he dared to watch the ball fall in his direction and unleashed a wonderful first-time volley which flew beyond Fon Williams. All three of the Dons' first-half goals were of top quality, and the celebration of the Dons players showed just how good Gleeson's strike was.
Stephen Gleeson unleashes a brilliant volley
Trailing by three goals at home, Dale's half-time team talk must have carried instructions to pile forward and cause the Dons more problems because that is exactly what they did on returning from the dressing rooms.
Ten minutes after the restart Rochdale had a glorious opportunity to add to the score line when O'Grady released Done into the box with only Martin to beat. But Martin's inspired form continued as he made himself big enough to get a slight block on Done's shot, which took some power out of the effort, and Kouo-Doumbe cleared on the line before O'Grady blazed the loose ball over.
Keith Hill's side continued their attempts to recover in the game as Dale skipper Gary Jones, their top scorer, imposed himself in midfield and showed some quick feet as he turned one way and then the other on the edge of the box, before slipping the ball to Adams.
However, after his captain's good work Adams extended his afternoon of missed chances in front of goal as he scuffed his low drill wide of the target.
Luke Chadwick finds the ball to beat Marcus Holness
Dale did get the goal they had been striving for eight minutes from time when substitute Will Atkinson picked out Craig Dawson at the far post with his inswinging corner, and the centre-back applied the final touch to dent the Dons' lead. But, Dons had the final say when Marcus Holness was penalised for handling Jabo Ibehre's close range shot and Baldock stepped up to the penalty spot and duly converted in emphatic fashion to send the Dons home with all three points.
Rochdale AFC (4-4-2): Fon Williams; Wiseman, Holness, Dawson, Widdowson; Adams (Dickinson 58), Kennedy, Jones (c), Done; Akpa Akpro (Atkinson 75), O'Grady.
Subs: Edwards, Barry-Murphy, Thompson, Gray.
Booked: Widdowson, Jones
Goal: Dawson 82
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Woodards, Kouo-Doumbe, MacKenzie, Lewington (c); Leven (Hughes 64), Gleeson; Powell, Chadwick, Marsh-Brown (Ibehre 61); Vine (Baldock 75).
Subs: Searle, Chicksen, Flanagan, Stirling.
Goals: Vine 15, Powell 19, Gleeson 45, Baldock (pen) 89
Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)