Two second half goals gave MK Dons a 2-0 win over Tranmere at StadiumMK.
After Rovers held the home side to 0-0 at half time, the hard work was undone less than 20 seconds into the second half when Daniel Powell gave Karl Robinson's side the lead.
And just as Tranmere looked like they were working their way back into the game, they conceded a second goal through Jabo Ibehre to further dent their hopes.
There were two changes to the side that started against Walsall with the injured Ian Goodison replaced by Mark McChrystal, while Ian Thomas-Moore dropped to the bench with his place going to Zoumana Bakayogo and Dale Jennings moving up front.
Tony Warner claimed an early cross to end MK Dons' first attack of the game, and the keeper's intervention led to a prolonged spell of possession shared between the sides in the middle third of the pitch.
A foul by Michael Kay gave the home side a free kick in a dangerous position on 13 minutes with Jabo Ibehre eventually sending an overhead kick over the bar after John Welsh's clearance had been played straight back into the Rovers area.
John Welsh and the Dons' Danny Woodards earned yellow cards for fouls midway through the first half, the second of which saw the defender take out Jennings as he ran on to a pass. Moments later Jennings won another free kick, this time Peter Leven fouling the Rovers youngster just outside the penalty area. However, Aaron Cresswell's team mates were unable to make the most of his floated cross and the ball was cleared.
A long range shot from Leven was easily saved by Warner on 31 minutes while a cross from Lewis Guy went straight through the Rovers six yard box and out the other side a minute later.
On 33 minutes Danny Powell rounded Warner, but the keeper had reduced the shooting angle sufficiently to allow McChrystal to clear off the line on his first start in a Tranmere shirt, and moments later Warner caught a long distance effort from Luke Chadwick.
Just minutes after being booked, Kay produced a fine tackle to win the ball from Lewis Guy - who had run in between McChrystal and Taylor - and prevent the former Doncaster striker from a one on one chance.
Within 15 seconds of the restart Rovers fell behind. After Ibehre forced his way past Taylor, the striker ran into the area, played the ball across the area and Daniel Powell fired into the roof of the net from 15 yards.
Bakayogo curled wide of the far post on 51 minutes as Rovers looked to level while Guy had the ball in the Tranmere net a few minutes later but the flag was raised for offside and the goal did not count.
Cresswell forced Martin into a save low at his near post after good work from Jennings and the home keeper kept out Welsh's 18 yard effort on 62 minutes.
However, as Rover continued to press forward, the home side doubled their lead. Ibehre gained possession inside the area, turned past the challenge of Taylor and drilled the ball past Warner into the net.
Thomas-Moore replaced Lateef Elford-Alliyu with just over a quarter of an hour remaining and Ryan Fraughan came on for Bakayogo soon after.
It was Fraughan who had Rovers' next chance, but the left winger sent his angled shot straight at Martin, while Adam McGurk
came on for Jennings with six minutes left.
Showunmi headed over from Cresswell's cross as the game approached injury time, and McGurk fired wide with the final chance of the game for Les Parry's side.
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Doumbe (Chicksen 78), MacKenzie, Gleeson, Guy (Vine 67), Woodards, Ibehre, Leven, Chadwick, Powell. Substitutes not used: Searle, Hamann, Baldock.
Tranmere: Warner, Kay, Taylor, McChrystal, Cresswell, Elford-Alliyu (Thomas-Moore 74), Labadie, Welsh, Bakayogo (Fraughan 78), Showunmi, Jennings (McGurk 84). Substitutes not used: Collister, Wood, Akins, Morrow.
Referee: Kevin Wright
Yellow cards: Welsh (22), Woodards (23), Labadie (30), Kay (43), McKenzie (68), Warner (87)
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