MK Dons delivered a memorable away-day display as they ran out 4-0 winners at rivals Peterborough United.
That provided a platform for the Dons to build on and they certainly did – Kieran Agard made it 2-0 and moved into double figures in the process.
Back-to-back braces from Chuks Aneke completed a magnificent afternoon’s work, while a clean sheet was also collected as the men from MK1 won successive games.
Barnes replaced Dean Lewington (ankle) in the starting XI for the clash at the ABAX Stadium.
The game started in lively fashion with both sides showing their attacking quality early on, leading to chances at either end.
David Martin comfortably saved from Marcus Maddison and Michael Smith, while Paul Downing was in the right place at the right time to clear off the line after Lee Angol had rounded Martin.
For the Dons, Barnes forced a stop from Luke McGee before Aneke curled an effort inches wide after a burst forward from midfield.
Ed Upson dragged an effort not too far off target, Agard saw a shot blocked and George Baldock couldn’t pick out a team-mate as the Dons began to look the more likely to break the deadlock.
The men from MK1 were growing in confidence and at the heart of things was Aneke, who spotted the run of Agard but the latter couldn’t bring the ball under control.
However, it was Barnes who made the next chance with an exquisite touch and cross – Agard, Aneke and Nicky Maynard were all denied by some last-ditch defending. So close to a deserved opener.
After being under pressure, the Posh responded with a shot from Angol, which sailed over the top of Martin’s crossbar from 25 yards.
The hosts came back into things a little as the game past the half-hour mark but Robbie Neilson’s men were still looking very dangerous and only a superb block denied Aneke firing home Barnes’ cross.
However, Grant McCann’s side did fire a warning shot on 36 minutes when Martin Samuelson almost got on the end of Maddison’s cross at the back post.
The last real action of a Dons-dominated half saw a chance fall to the impressive Barnes, who brought a fine save from McGee following a well-worked short corner.
Maynard fired over the first opportunity of the second half after initially being freed down the left, but his next chance, following more good play from Aneke, was a better one although he couldn’t get enough power on the effort.
Shortly afterwards, two shots in quick succession for the Dons – firstly McGee saved from Upson before Agard fired over the top from 20 yards.
The pressure finally told on 59 minutes when a well-worked short corner saw Downing pick out Barnes, who coolly slotted home his second in as many games and one on his first league start!
He almost had a second five minutes later but the legs of McGee kept his effort out before the Dons had strong appeals for a penalty waved away when Aneke looked to be hauled down by Michael Bostwick.
That didn’t matter as much on 71 minutes though as Agard rounded off a smart attacking move with a smart finish across the goalkeeper and into the far corner to make it 2-0 – that goal took him into double figures too!
It was 3-0 just two minutes later and what a strike! Aneke played a one-two with Downing before arrowing a stunning 20-yard effort into the top right-hand corner – a contender for goal of the season!
The Dons were running riot and they had a fourth on 84 minutes when Aneke received a corner from Upson and fired past McGee from a tight angle to bag back-to-back braces and put the gloss on a magnificent away day.
Starting XI: Martin; Baldock, Downing, Walsh, Williams; Potter, Upson, Barnes (Muirhead 72), Aneke (Brittain 87); Maynard, Agard (Powell 85).
Unused subs: Nicholls, Tilney, Rasulo,Bowditch.
Bookings: Baldock, Williams, Potter, Walsh.
Goals: Barnes (59), Agard (71), Aneke (73 & 84).