MK Dons' play-off hopes took a blow on Saturday afternoon after they lost 2-0 at home to Peterborough United.
Posh forward Britt Assombalonga scored twice in as many minutes in the second half to earn Darren Ferguson's men all three points and, crucially, extend the gap between them and the Dons to six points.
Karl Robinson's side did have chances, especially in the second half, to salvage a result but they were once again frustrated by United 'keeper Bobby Olejnik on a frustrating afternoon for the men from MK1.
The Dons boss was forced into making one change to his side after Daniel Powell fell ill late in the week. In his absence, Robinson handed winger Ryan Hall his first start in an MK Dons shirt alongside an attacking trio of Alan Smith and Sanmi Odelusi.
After an even start, Dons striker Izale McLeod was the first to register a shot on target when he drilled wide from the edge of the area on 4 minutes.
Nicky Ajose then forced David Martin into a fine save with a dipping volley which the Dons ‘keeper had to tip over the crossbar before Ben Nugent headed the resulting corner off target.
Neither team, early on, looked content to sit back and ease their way into the game and in the 15th minute Peterborough, again, went close through Britt Assombalonga but he drilled his shot straight at Martin after breaking through the hosts’ backline.
Although the Dons had the majority of the ball it was their hosts who were looking more threatening with it and in the 17th minute Martin had to be at his very best to deny Ajose from finding the corner with a bending shot, 25-yards out.
Robinson’s men then won themselves a free-kick in a reasonable position just outside the Posh area following a foul on Izale McLeod and from that set-piece, Hall drilled a low shot into the arms of Olejnik.
The Dons’ best move of the opening half an hour, though, came in the 25th minute when Spence burst through from the back and picked out Odelusi with a fierce pass. The Bolton loanee, who had looked impressive in his last two games, then turned and fired a shot just wide of the post.
Posh, who came out victorious in the reverse fixture between the two sides earlier in the season, spent the next ten minutes forcing the Dons deep inside their own area but it was the hosts who would eventually end the first half on the front.
Although they find the breakthrough before the interval, they did continue to threaten at after the re-start and they went close on 51 minutes through Smith, who saw a half volley blocked bravely by Rowe.
Hall then shot wide after cutting inside from the right before Posh forward Conor Washington headed straight at Martin, on the visitors’ first venture forward in the second period.
Although Washington could have had some defence as to how he missed, his team-mate Assombalnga had no excuses with his miss just a few seconds later. After Rowe’s shot was saved by the legs of Martin, the ball deflected up perfectly for the Posh forward but he somehow headed over from less than five yards.
However, just a few minutes later, Assombalonga made up for his poor miss by tapping home Michael Bostwick’s low cross to give his side the lead before he doubled their advantage just 180 seconds later from the penalty spot.
Referee Keith Hill adjudged Baldock to have upended Washington in the box and Assombalonga sent Martin the wrong way from 12-yards to double his tally and give United a comfortable lead heading into the final half an hour.
With the game on the line, Robinson introduced both Dean Bowditch and Luke Chadwick and then, later, 17-year-old Giorgio Rasulo for his first League appearance since the final day of last season.
In the 83rd minute, Alli went down in the box under challenge from a Posh defender but Mr. Hill decided to caution the young Dons midfielder for simulation and not award the Dons a penalty.
Alli's fellow Academy graduate, Rasulo, then volleyed over the crossbar before Lewington forced a strong save out of Olejnik at his near post.
The Dons left-back went close again in the 89th minute with a low drive from 25-yards out which deflected agonisingly wide of the right-hand upright but that was the closest the team came to salvaging a result and their chances of climbing above the Posh in the Sky Bet League 1 play-off race.
MK Dons: Martin; Baldock, Spence, Kay, Lewington (c); Smith (Chadwick 63); Gleeson, Alli; Hall (Rasulo 77), McLeod, Odelusi (Bowditch 63).
Subs not used: Burns (GK), Flanagan, Randall.
Booked: Lewington, Gleeson, Spence, Baldock, McLeod, Alli
Peterborough United: Olejnik (GK), Little, Baldwin, Nugent, Alcock, Bostwick, McQuoid, Rowe (c), Ajose, Washington, Assombalonga.
Subs: Day (GK), Brisley, Payne, McCann, Newell, Knight-Percival, Isgrove.
Goals: Assombalonga 58, 60 (pen)
Booked: Alcock, Nugent, Rowe
Referee: K Hill (Hertfordshire)
Attendance: 9,590 (1,867 away)
Goal-Don Treble Chance HT draw numbers: 01-08-06-07