MK Dons fell to defeat in their final game of 2022, losing 2-0 at play-off chasing Peterborough United.
Goals in each half from Joe Ward and Ricky-Jade Jones did the damage as the Dons were beaten for the first time in three, leaving them a point adrift of safety in Sky Bet League One at the turn of the year.
Head Coach Jackson made two changes to the side which beat Forest Green Rovers, with Dawson Devoy and Louie Barry replacing Bradley Johnson and Mo Eisa.
Both sides spent the first 10 minutes sizing eachother up, with the closest the Dons came to an early goal being a smart through pass from Barry to Will Grigg, which the striker wasn’t able to bring under control.
Grigg was involved on 11 minutes, working a one-two inside the area with Tennai Watson who then saw his ball through to Devoy intercepted by a defender. Shortly after, Watson flicked a header onto Grigg, who was penalised for a foul as he rolled his marker.
Peterborough offered their first real threat on the counter with 18 minutes played but, after Jules had raced back to block Kwame Poku’s effort, Jack Taylor dragged the rebound wide from the edge of the area.
In response, the Dons created a shooting opportunity for Barry, whose effort was blocked. He managed to collect the loose ball but wasn’t able to connect with Grigg, who was better positioned for a chance on goal.
Posh should have opened the scoring just past the half-hour but Frankie Kent headed wide just six yards out, following Burrows’ free-kick in from the left wing. Jonson Clarke-Harris also failed to hit the target with a header of his own from a bit further out.
It was the home side who would break the deadlock seven minutes before half-time, though it came in controversial circumstances.
The Dons were adamant Grigg was fouled in the build-up but with referee David Rock unmoved, Peterborough made them pay through WARD, who drilled a low shot past Cumming from the right side of the area. 1-0.
Cumming was able to get to Poku’s low drive shortly after the re-start, as the hosts looked for a quick-fire second.
The Dons soon bounced back but Nathan Holland’s pass through to Grigg had too much on it. There was almost a chance in first-half added time too, though Barry was just beaten to McEachran’s pass by an alert Will Blackmore.
Jackson made a change to his side at the break, with Conor Grant coming into the XI for Holland. His side had the first effort of the second half – a Watson strike from range which was saved by Blackmore.
Peterborough, though, soon doubled their lead through JONES, who benefitted from two ricochets off Watson and Tucker before finishing past Cumming with a right-footed shot, 10 yards out. 2-0.
The Dons went about responding through Barry, who drove into the area down the left but saw his fierce effort deflected over off a Posh defender’s outstretched leg. Jackson then turned to his bench for a triple substitution – Johnson, Eisa and Henry Lawrence on for McEachran, Grigg and Watson, the latter limping off with the medical staff.
Cumming kept out Poku on the hour with a strong reaction save but Peterborough were awarded a chance to make it three from the penalty spot just a minute later, following a foul on Clarke-Harris by Jules. Cumming, though, wasn’t to be beaten by Clarke-Harris, diving to his left and repelling the striker’s effort from 12 yards.
With 65 minutes played, Lawrence tried his luck from distance but his effort took a wicked deflection and that allowed Blackmore a simple catch. The Dons went agonisingly close 10 minutes later from a Devoy corner which Harvie glanced wide of the target.
Ethan Robson for Tucker was Jackson’s final change, as he moved to four at the back. Moments later, Robson’s midfield partner Johnson picked out Eisa with a terrific reverse pass but the striker’s ball back into the area was claimed by Blackmore.
Cumming prevented Burrows from extending the hosts’ lead further with a strong diving stop in the centre of his goal. Burrows went for goal again with eight minutes to play but cleared the crossbar.
Blackmore saved from Harvie on the stroke of 90 minutes but that was the closest they came to salvaging anything from the contest. The Dons enter the New Year inside the bottom four but with their focus on what they will hope will be a more positive 2023.
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson (Lawrence 60), Tucker (Robson 80), O’Hora, McEachran (Johnson 58), Grigg (Eisa 58), Holland (Grant 46), Barry, Harvie, Devoy, Jules.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Smith.
Booked: Grigg, Jules
Peterborough United: Blackmore, Watts, Edwards, Kent, Fuchs (Kyprianou 72), Taylor, Clarke-Harris, Poku (Thompson 88), Jones (Mason-Clark 87), Burrows, Ward.
Subs: Bergstrom, Butler, Knight, Taylor
Goals: Ward 39, Jones 48
Booked: Burrows, Poku, Jones
Referee: D Rock
Attendance: 8,391 (699 away)