MK Dons moved to within one point of safety as two Chuks Aneke penalties earned Dan Micciche’s side a 2-1 victory at Stadium MK.
Aneke netted from the spot in both halves to hand the Dons their second home win in a week – a week which has breathed new life into the team’s survival fight.
Boss Micciche named the same starting XI that beat Rotherham United earlier in the week. There was one change to the squad, though, as Ethan Ebanks-Landell returned from injury – he was among the substitutes.
Visitors Bury started strong and spent the opening five minutes with the ball. It was them who registered the first shot on goal too – a low Harry Bunn effort which was comfortable for Lee Nicholls.
The Dons responded by going straight up the other end and producing a save out of Nicholls’ opposite number, Connor Ripley. Robbie Muirhead played a one-two with Aneke on the edge of the box before seeing a stabbed attempt palmed away by the Bury stopper.
Micciche’s men maintained the pressure and in the 10th minute they were awarded a penalty after Peter Clarke clearly tripped Peter Pawlett inside the area. Chuks Aneke stepped up to take the spot kick and he sent Ripley the wrong way from 12-yards to give the Dons an early lead. 1-0.
The Stadium MK crowed urged the Dons on to create more chances and a chance opened up for Pawlett on the quarter-hour mark but his 25-yard drive sailed over the crossbar. A neat move involving Pawlett, Aneke and Muirhead then led to an opportunity for the latter but Clarke got to the ball in the nick of time to deny the in-form Scotsman.
Bury were offering a threat when they came forward and in the 20th minute it took some excellent defending from Dean Lewington to deny George Miller a clear sight at goal. Miller then got behind the Dons’ backline soon after but Elliott Ward recovered well to block his shot.
It was the hosts, though, were seeing most of the ball and with 28 minutes on the clock Muirhead and Pawlett combined well. Muirhead sent a left-footed delivery into the area and a neat flick from Pawlett almost caught Ripley out at his near post.
The Dons’ front four continued to cause problems and they put Bury under pressure again when Sow threaded a pass through for Pawlett, who was just beaten to the ball by an alert Ripley. Muirhead’s cross-turned-shot then forced Ripley into making a save at his near post.
Five minutes before half-time, Sow had a great opportunity to double the lead after pouncing on an error from Nathan Cameron. The striker raced in behind the Bury man but, after bring the ball down and moving into the area, he could only find the side netting with a left-footed shot.
It remained 1-0 through to the break although the Shakers threatened an equaliser immediately from kick-off – fortunately, Miller’s looping header landed on the roof of the net. Danny Mayor then sent a right-footed drive straight at Nicholls from 20 yards before James Hanson produced a save out of the Dons goalkeeper with a far-post header.
Micciche introduced Brandon Thomas-Asante 10 minutes into the second half following a stoppage for a free-kick. From that free-kick, Muirhead watched a stinging left-footer deflect wide of goal. From the resulting corner, Aneke headed wide when well-placed.
The Dons kept their foot on the gas and they were rewarded with another penalty decision on 56 minutes when substitute Thomas-Asante was tripped after beating a Bury defender to a loose ball inside the area. Aneke picked up the ball confidently and found the exact same corner of the net to double both his and the side’s tally. 2-0.
Nicholls was enjoying a reasonably quiet afternoon but he was called into action on 67 minutes to keep out a strike from Miller, who had sneaked in behind the Dons’ defence – the Dons goalkeeper did brilliantly to get his hands to the close-range attempt.
The Shakers were challenging the Dons’ lead and with a quarter of an hour left to play, Miller headed wide from the centre of the box. He made no mistake a minute later, glancing in to the bottom left corner from Hanson’s set up to set up another nervy finish at Stadium MK. 2-1.
However, just as they did on Tuesday, Micciche’s side saw out the remainder of the contest to pick up another valuable three points.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Wootton, Ward, Lewington (c); Williams, Brittain, Upson, Muirhead; Sow (Thomas-Asante 55), Aneke (Ebanks-Landell 85), Pawlett (McGrandles 72).
Unused subs: Sietsma, Cisse, Ugbo, Agard.
Goals: Aneke (pen 11, pen 57)
Booked: Aneke, Ebanks-Landell
Attendance: 9,247 (277 away)
Referee: G Ward