Second-half goals from Daniel Powell and Sam Baldock saw MK Dons extend their play-off safety net to eight points with a 2-0 win over Charlton Athletic at stadiummk.
The Dons extended their unbeaten run in League 1 to five-matches as Powell's 55th minute strike, his ninth in a superb season and third in as many games, and a Sam Baldock strike at the death helped Karl Robinson's men strengthen their hold on a play-off berth while denting Charlton's own promotion hopes.
Charlton, who had striker Paul Benson sent-off in the closing stages for a late lunge on Stephen Gleeson, put in a defensive performance in the first-half and when they adjusted their game plan after half-time they could not find their way through the Dons defence, with Gary MacKenzie a rock at the back.
The Dons made one change to the side that beat Rochdale 4-1 last Saturday with Stephen Hughes replacing the suspended Peter Leven in midfield. While, Charlton were without number one goalkeeper Rob Elliot after he failed to recover from a hip injury that forced him off in the Addicks' draw with Tranmere Rovers. Taking his place was Ross Worner whose last start, ironically, came at The Valley in their 1-0 win against the Dons.
Keanu Marsh-Brown evades the challenge of Llera
There was a subdued opening as both sides tried to stamp their authority on the game. It was the Dons who had the better possession in the early stages with most of their encouraging play coming down the left-hand side as Keanu Marsh-Brown escaped Simon Francis to latch on to a through ball from Dean Lewington which left Christain Dailly to make a late block.
Charlton struggled to get out of their own half as they pushed ten men behind the ball, yet the Dons were still able to find gaps again down the Addicks' right channel, when Rowan Vine shuffled into a central position to power an effort through the box, which Luke Chadwick did well to evade, to force what proved to be a comfortable gather from Worner.
Without midfield general Leven the Dons were missing their dead ball specialist, however, skipper Lewington quickly proved he was capable of some decent deliveries too when his deep free-kick was almost turned in when Paul Benson tried to null the threat of Kouo-Doumbe, only to almost knock the ball beyond his own goalkeeper.
Luke Chadwick contests the ball with Kyel Reid
The Dons switched wingers Powell and Marsh-Brown over in an attempt to stretch the play against a surprisingly defensive Charlton side. However, a quickly taken free-kick by the Addicks, a result of foul spotted by referee Keith Stroud to the bemusement of the Dons' bench, almost caught the Dons cold when the ball came in for Benson to tap in but MacKenzie tracked back to make a crucial intervention.
Lone striker Benson once again snuck through the Dons defence minutes later and once more could not get the better of towering centre-back MacKenzie even when the Scotsman's block looped up he was able to safely head the ball into the grateful arms of David Martin.
As half-time approached the game began to open up as Lewington and Powell combined before Carl Jenkinson cleared in the six-yard box and at the other end Miguel Llera's header on to Alan McCormack's corner lacked the power to truly trouble the Dons defence.
A good break by Kyel Reid from the left wing could have been dangerous for the Dons, yet the winger wasted his opportunity as he dragged a low effort wide from outside the box.
Immediately after the interval the Dons were back attacking the Addicks' goal and Danny Woodards came within inches of connecting with Lewington's inswinger which was whipped in at speed but escaped the attention of a crowded box.
Powell applies the finish as Dons open the scoring
Charlton pressed higher up the pitch in the second-half and Chris Powell's team had much more threat about them than they had in the opening 45 minutes. Dons 'keeper Martin was kept on his toes with a well-hit long range shot from the boot of Racon but it was the Dons who broke the deadlock in the 55th minute.
What looked to be an injury to Marsh-Brown had forced Robinson to make his first substitution bringing off the wide man for Baldock. And the striker, in his third appearance since returning from a hamstring strain, played a pivotal part in cracking the Addicks defence.
Baldock sprung into life on the left of the box and picked out Hughes, with his avenue blocked he rolled the ball back for Chadwick who in turn spotted Powell ghosting through on his right. With the ball timed perfectly to his feet Powell glanced up before stroking the ball home from an acute angle.
Baldock was back in the action when his shot from 18-yards landed in the arms of Worner. His pace caused problems for Charlton and former Dons defender Llera was on the fortunate side not to be dismissed in the 69th minute when he, as the last defender, bundled down Baldock in the middle of the pitch, but escaped with only a caution.
Sub Sam Baldock fires in the second of the night
Charlton were searching for an equaliser but could easily have found themselves two goals down when the combination of Vine and Baldock pulled the Addicks back four apart. A one-two between Vine and Baldock looked promising and Vine could have squared the ball back to his strike partner, but chose to go for goal himself and was denied by some fine goalkeeping from Worner.
The Addicks found it impossible to get passed the wall of MacKenzie and Kouo-Doumbe which forced wild shots from distance from the visitors, yet there were wasted half-chances as the likes of Racon blazed well over from a good position.
Two minutes from time the Dons came agonisingly close to making the score line more convincing when Lewington's curling free-kick hit the upright and Baldock shot over with the follow-up.
Charlton's night went from bad to worse in the 90th minute when a badly-timed challenge from Benson on Gleeson earned the striker a straight red.
Then, a&nbsp;lightening quick counter-attack saw Powell and Baldock sprint up field. The duo shared the ball and when Baldock sprayed the ball back to Powell the chance appeared to have gone as the Charlton defence recovered, but Powell managed to dig out the ball for Baldock.
At first Baldock scuffed his shot, yet he ensured he did not make the mistake again at the second attempt as he delighted the Cowshed by finishing past Worner.
With three more points to their name the Dons now travel to another play-off rival, Colchester United, on Saturday in impressive form.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Woodards, Kouo-Doumbe, MacKenzie, Lewington (c); Hughes, Gleeson; Powell, Chadwick (Chicksen 82), Marsh-Brown (S Baldock 50); Vine (Ibehre 74).
Subs not used: Searle, Stirling, Flanagan, Guy
Goals: Powell 55, S&nbsp;Baldock 90
Charlton Athletic (4-3-3): Worner; Francis, Dailly (c), Llera, Jenkinson; Semedo, McCormack (Wright-Phillips74), Racon; Wagstaff, Benson, Reid (Eccleston 83).
Subs not used: Stavrinou, Fry, Solly, Fortune, Etheridge.
Sent-off: Benson 90
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)