MK Dons host Peterborough United this weekend in a game that has become somewhat of a rivalry over the year. Twenty-five fiercely-fought contests have been played out between the pair, and history has done little to separate them. Each team has 11 wins, while there have also been three draws. Ahead of this weekend’s instalment, we take a look back at five of the best victories MK Dons have secured against their Cambridgeshire opponents.
MK Dons’ Best Victories Against Peterborough United
MK Dons 1-0 Peterborough United – March 21, 2011
At this point of the League One season, both MK Dons and Peterborough were in the play-off places, separated by just four points at the start of play. The Posh sat third, close to Huddersfield Town but well adrift of runaway leaders Brighton & Hove Albion.
Success for MK Dons in this one was vital – it meant they could close the gap on Peterborough, or they would have Bournemouth and Leyton Orient coming in behind them ready to pounce on any slip-ups.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen as Gary McKenzie ended Peterborough eight-game unbeaten run to take all three points at Stadium MK. The giant defender was on hand to punish goalkeeper Joe Lewis for an error, and his strike proved to be the deciding factor.
The Dons eventually finished fifth that season, two points behind Peterborough in the play-off positions. Unfortunately, though, it was the Posh who prevailed on that occasion with a 4-3 aggregate win.
MK Dons 3-2 Peterborough United – May 15, 2011
The first leg of that play-off tie is where we go next. MK Dons had worked themselves to the bone to reach the play-off places – four of the six teams which occupied those spots have since gone on to play in the Premier League, while three of them are still in it, proving just what prestigious company they were among, even if they didn’t know it at the time.
They will have taken confidence into the game from the fact they had beaten Peterborough at Stadium MK just two months before, although they may have evaporated slightly when Craig Mackail-Smith tapped the visitors in front for the opening goal of the tie.
However, a quick turnaround ensued as Daniel Powell poked home and Sam Baldock fired in a free-kick from 30-yards. That lead was extended in the second half when Angelo Balanta slotted in and Posh’s Charlie Lee was then dismissed for his second yellow card, leaving the Dons in what looked to be a firm position.
However, Stephen Gleeson’s dismissal for a last-man foul on Mark Little allowed Grant McCann to ensure the advantage MK Dons took to London Road was a goal slimmer.
That proved to be their undoing too, as a 2-0 defeat just days later took Peterborough to Old Trafford (the play-off final venue for that year), where they eased past Huddersfield to secure promotion to the Championship.
MK Dons 3-0 Peterborough United – February 21, 2015
It seemed as though nothing could stop MK Dons in their promotion-winning season in 2014/15. They, along with Bristol City, Preston North End and Swindon Town, led the way at the top for almost the entire season, and this victory against Peterborough was one of the many massive home successes they recorded.
Peterborough, by their own admission, were having a completely dire campaign compared to what they would usually expect. Defeat in this game left them 15th in the table. While not hugely in threat of relegation, they could have been forgiven for looking nervously over their shoulders with just an eight-point gap between themselves and Coventry City at the time.
MK Dons took advantage of their poor league position after just four minutes as the talismanic Will Grigg struck from inside the box. The misery was compounded before half-time as two stunning strikes from Ben Reeves finished them off in the first 45 minutes.
The midfielder, now back at the Dons after a spell at Charlton Athletic, firstly fired in first-time from the corner of the box before a stunning effort from a roughly similar position dipped and flew into the top corner.
While no goals were added in the second half, the first-half domination was something rarely seen from an MK Dons side against Peterborough and was the perfect revenge for the defeat they suffered at London Road earlier in the season.
Peterborough United 0-4 MK Dons – January 28, 2017
This is the only away game for MK Dons to have made the list, mostly because results at London Road have generally been poor for the Dons. However, it’s also the biggest margin of victory on the list, signalling just what an important and big win it was.
The Dons had been struggling for much of the season and were in a transitional period, having parted company with the long-serving Karl Robinson and trying to adapt to new boss Robbie Neilson.
Neilson’s tenure as a whole would eventually go down as a failure, but in this campaign at least he did manage to salvage a respectable (in the context of the whole season) mid-table finish, and this result will likely go down as the best of his brief time with the club.
Surprisingly, it was goalless at the break and until that point it had been a nervous, cagey display from both sides. Whatever was said at half-time, though, certainly did its job. Harvey Barnes, now a Premier League regular with Leicester City, opened the scoring when he scrambled home Paul Downing’s pass, and Kieran Agard then doubled the advantage when his low effort had just enough power to beat the keeper.
If that was a weak effort from Agard, though, there was nothing weak about the third goal. Chuks Aneke silenced London Road with an absolute thunderbolt that even the camera recording the game failed to keep up with. If it hadn’t have been for that, his second and MK’s fourth would have probably stolen the show too, turning in the box after a neat set-piece routine and firing under the goalkeeper with his ‘weaker’ foot.
MK Dons 1-0 Peterborough United – December 30, 2017
This game wasn’t high-scoring and it certainly wasn’t the best advert for League One football. However, it was perhaps the greatest show of resilience and determination displayed in the Robbie Neilson era. Unfortunately, it would go down in vain once he was sacked just a month later, but at the time it gave fans belief that the absolute horror that had unfolded before them in that season could somehow be rectified.
While they were two-men short on the pitch by half-time, the Dons were effectively three-short once the second half came around as it became apparent that Neilson had been ordered to watch the second period from the stands. That left Stevie Crawford and Neil MacFarlane as the sole voices down on the sidelines as he tried to ensure the nine-man Dons didn’t capitulate.
It all went wrong after only nine minutes when Joe Walsh received a straight red for clipping Jack Marriott on the edge of the area as he raced through. Not the start needed for a side deep in trouble at the wrong end of the table.
There was some respite when Chuks Aneke brilliantly curled the Dons into the lead – an advantage that was actually deserved at the time – but the side were left up in arms after 35 minutes when Osman Sow was shown a straight red by Charles Breakspeare for a high foot. It left the Dons with it all to do in the second half, and all without Neilson beside them as well after his foul-mouthed rant to Breakspeare in the tunnel backfired on him.
How much of an involvement Neilson had in the second half is still unclear, but whatever Crawford and MacFarlane were saying to the players was working, as they somehow kept Peterborough at bay with one of their finest defensive performances.
This Time Around
MK Dons come into this weekend’s game against Peterborough with two wins from three in the league after ending Lincoln City’s 100% start to the season on Tuesday night. Posh, meanwhile have made a good recovery after losing their opening two games.
As has been shown throughout history, though, form means very little when these two sides meet. It’ll be about who wants it more on the day.