MK Dons made it back-to-back Sky Bet League Two wins with a dominant 3–0 victory over Cheltenham Town at Stadium MK.
The Dons, who beat Port Vale 2-0 in midweek, went ahead in the 34th minute through Chuks Aneke's sixth goal in six games before Rhys Healey headed home with six minutes left to play to double the lead.
Substitute Robbie Simpson then netted a penalty deep into stoppage time to seal the success, which moves Paul Tisdale’s men up to fourth in the Sky Bet League Two table and sees them close the gap on third-place to just three points.
Boss Tisdale was forced to make one change to his starting XI with Kieran Agard unavailable due to injury. Agard, who scored the second goal in Tuesday’s win over Port Vale, was replaced by Healey.
There was an early chance for Cheltenham’s Jacob Maddox but he couldn’t direct his header on target. MK Dons threatened straight after but Ryan Watson was dispossessed in the area after latching onto Aneke’s header.
Healey then burst through the Robins backline on four minutes but couldn’t beat Scott Flinders with a right-footed shot. Aneke was the next to try his luck two minutes later as he sent a curling effort wide of the target from the edge of the box.
MK Dons maintained their dominant start and went close again in the ninth minute, with Aneke involved again. He started the move with an excellent control on the chest and then Watson drove down the left. He returned the ball to Aneke, who set up Williams and his first-time shot was blocked by a defender.
The visitors were trying their best to stifle the Dons, who continued their assault on Flinders’ goal. Jordan Houghton got a shot away in the 25th minute but his attempt was off target.
Robins midfielder Maddox forced Lee Nicholls into his first save of the afternoon with a low drive from 18-yards out which the MK Dons number 1 dealt with comfortably. At the other end, Watson responded with a low free-kick which Flinders did well to get across to and claim.
Fouls committed by both sides meant most of the first half was played at a stop-start pace. That didn’t stop Healey breaking through the backline again in the 34th minute only to see his shot blocked a sliding defender.
From the resulting corner, though, MK Dons took a deserved lead and it was to nobody’s surprise that top goalscorer Aneke was the man to score it. George Williams met a long ball forward from Houghton and his header was brilliantly controlled by Aneke, who turned and fired home the opening goal of the game. 1-0.
Cheltenham went close to levelling things up with two minutes remaining in the half but Jordan Moore-Taylor got in the way of Ryan Broom’s goal-bound effort. MK Dons countered with Aneke, who set up Watson and he saw a on-target attempt blocked.
The Dons maintained their advantage through to the break and they immediately went about extending it in the second half through Healey but he was, again, denied by a save from Flinders.
Cheltenham's goalkeeper was forced into action again in the 51st minute - this time it was Gilbey with a strike which Flinders palmed away.
Shortly after, Nicholls produced a stunning diving save to keep out a curling attempt from Maddox which looked to be heading for the far corner of the net - the Robins' best effort of the game.
MK Dons went straight up the other end after dealing with the corner and Cargill picked out Aneke with a cross - the striker, though, sent his shot wide of the left upright.
Watson then drilled wide with a left-footed effort across goal as Tisdale’s men continued their excellent start to the second half.
MK Dons again went close on the hour mark when Joe Walsh latched onto a deflected cross from Watson. His volley struck Healey but Cheltenham were able to get in the way of the ball and prevent it from rustling the net.
Tisdale's side then came under a bit of pressure from two Cheltenham corners but were able to deal with both deliveries.
The Dons boss made his first two substitutions in the 71st minute, replacing Watson and Aneke with Brandon Thomas-Asante and Robbie Simpson.
Thomas-Asante was involved straight away and almost got himself on the scoresheet. The youngster won the ball on the halfway line and spread play over to Gilbey, whose cross was inches away from connecting with the head of Thomas-Asante for a second MK Dons goal.
There was a stoppage in play following the chance due to a serious-looking injury to Robins player Aden Baldwin, who left the field on a stretcher and was replaced by Tyrone Barnett.
The Dons’ dominance and control of the game meant a second goal might not be required to see out the contest but they found one anyway with six minutes left to play. Gilbey switched play out to the right to Williams, who sent a delightful cross over to the far post and right on to the head of Healey, who diverted home a deserved goal - his third since joining on loan from Cardiff City. 2-0.
Nine minutes of stoppage time were awarded as a result of the injury to Baldwin and during those minutes, Cheltenham went close through Barnett.
However, it was MK Dons who would have the final say as Simpson netted from the penalty spot, following a foul on Brittain in the box, to secure a scoreline which better reflected his team's dominance. 3-0.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Walsh, Moore-Taylor, Cargill; Williams, Gilbey, Watson, Lewington (c); Watson (Thomas-Asante 71); Aneke (Simpson 71), Healey (Brittain 90+4).
Unused subs: Moore, Hancox, Cisse, Kasumu.
Goals: Aneke (34), Healey (84), Simpson (90+8)
Attendance: 6,503 (285 away)
Referee: T Neild