Crewe Alexandra moved clear of the relegation zone as Chuks Aneke and AJ Leitch-Smith scored either side of the break in a 2-0 victory against Milton Keynes Dons.
Aneke opened their account from a 20-yard free-kick ten minutes before the interval and young goalkeeper Ben Garratt then saved Shaun Williams’ 54th minute penalty.
The Railwaymen really made their visitors pay for that wasted opportunity fifteen minutes later as Leitch-Smith calmly doubled their advantage.
Manager Steve Davis recalled on loan Manchester City midfielder George Evans but latest arrival Uche Ikepeazu was ruled out with an ankle injury.
Brad Inman drove straight at goalkeeper Dave Martin during the early exchanges while Dele Alli was wide in reply. But the visitors went desperately close to going in front as Samir Carruthers struck the crossbar and then moments later fired at Garratt.
Dons continued to appear the more likely despite Aneke heading at the keeper following good work from Kelvin Mellor. And it was their opponents seizing the initiative when Aneke despatched a 35th minute free-kick over the wall after being brought down by Stephen Gleeson.
The lively Alli stabbed wide at the other end before Matt Tootle was adjudged to have handled inside his own area early in the second-half. Williams stepped up but Garratt blocked his penalty.
Goalscorer Aneke then set up Byron Moore for a tame shot directly at Martin while substitute Luke Chadwick could only find the side-netting in reply.
However, Crewe extended their advantage midway through the second period as Anthony Grant released Leitch-Smith for only his second goal of the season – and first since early September.
Aneke forced another couple of saves from Martin and his opposite number Garratt kept out Dean Bowditch and Ben Reeves, while Gleeson and Chadwick also threatened as their side slipped to defeat.
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Mellor. Davis, Ellis, Tootle, Grant (Osman 81), Evans, Inman, Moore, Leitch-Smith (Pogba 88), Aneke
subs (unused): Dugdale, Ray, Guthrie, Waters, Martin
Goals: Aneke (35), Leitch-Smith (69)
Milton Keynes Dons: Martin, Baldock, Lewington, Gleeson, Williams, Kay, Potter, Carruthers (Chadwick 61), Long (Powell 57), Reeves, Alli (Bowditch 51)
subs (unused): Flanagan, Smith, McLeod, McLoughlin
Ref: R. Clark
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