MK Dons will take a slender lead into the second leg of their League One play-off semi-final after beating Peterborough in a five-goal thriller.

Craig Mackail-Smith tapped Posh in front but the Dons turned it around as Daniel Powell prodded in before Sam Baldock fired home a 30-yard free-kick.

Angelo Balanta slotted the third before Charlie Lee saw red for two bookings.

Stephen Gleeson was then sent off for bringing down Mark Little, and Grant McCann converted the resulting penalty.

McCann's strike left the tie finely poised going into Thursday's second leg.

But defeat for Posh meant it was not a weekend of double celebration for the Ferguson family, with Sir Alex, fresh from Manchester United's Premier League title triumph on Saturday, at Stadium MK to watch son Darren's Peterborough side.

Yet it was the visitors who enjoyed a dream start when they took the lead after only eight minutes.

Right-back Little did the spadework, bursting down the flank and pulling the ball back to Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, whose shot was parried by Dons keeper David Martin straight into the path of Mackail-Smith who could not miss.

It was the striker's 33rd goal of the season, and he soon went close to number 34 as he fired an angled drive over the bar after taking a Mendez-Laing pass in his stride.

Lee Tomlin also forced a smart save from Martin before the Dons finally came into the game in the run-up to half-time.

It was the unlikely figure of defender Mathias Doumbe who went close to an equaliser three times, first forcing a fine reaction save out of Joe Lewis with a header before seeing a low drive deflected over the bar by Kelvin Langmead and a third effort turned on to the outside of a post by a defender.

Posh were forced into a half-time reshuffle, with Paul Jones coming on in goal in place of Lewis, who had needed treatment early in the first half following a collision with Lee.

But Jones endured a first 10 minutes to forget as he picked the ball out of his net three times.

First he failed to deal with Tommy Rowe's mis-directed defensive header, allowing Powell to stab in the equaliser from close range.

He was helpless to prevent the second when Baldock's speculative low free-kick flew through the Posh wall and into the net, and the third when Balanta seized on Adam Clayton's pass, slipped inside a challenge and drove past Jones at his near post.

Peterborough were even more up against it when left-back Lee was shown his second yellow card for a foul on Powell, and could have been out of the tie had Baldock not dragged a shot wide.

But they were handed a lifeline when Gleeson was harshly dismissed for tripping the marauding Little, and McCann made no mistake from the spot.

POST-MATCH REACTION

MK Dons manager Karl Robinson told BBC Three Counties Radio:

"I'm proud of them, I'm so proud of them.

"All my pre-match build-up was saying 'I promise we won't let you down, we might lose the game or the tie but it will never be through a lack of hard work, it may be something that goes against us where we're unlucky'.

"Today we had a lack of luck, but we've come through it the other side. Everything's gone against us, yet we're still 3-2 up."

Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire:

"The performance was probably as bad as we could have played in a game like this.

"I've just told them the same, I've not told them anything different.

"It's the wrong day to pick to have such a poor performance, particularly on the ball.

"Milton Keynes were far better than us on the day, I'm delighted to still be in the tie."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (5)

MK Dons

  • 01 Martin
  • 03 Lewington
  • 04 Doumbe
  • 05 MacKenzie
  • 06 O'Hanlon
  • 07 Gleeson Dismissed
  • 16 Clayton
  • 26 Chadwick Booked
  • 27 Powell (Marsh-Brown - 76' )
  • 10 Baldock
  • 11 Balanta (Ibehre - 79' )

Substitutes

  • 17 Searle
  • 15 Woodards
  • 21 Marsh-Brown
  • 23 Chicksen
  • 14 Guy
  • 18 Baldock
  • 19 Ibehre

Peterborough

  • 01 Lewis (Jones - 45' )
  • 02 Little
  • 05 Zakuani (Langmead - 32' )
  • 16 Bennett
  • 06 Lee Dismissed after an earlier booking
  • 11 McCann
  • 14 Rowe
  • 19 Mendez-Laing (Ball - 60' )
  • 10 Boyd
  • 12 Mackail-Smith
  • 24 Tomlin

Substitutes

  • 28 Jones
  • 04 Langmead
  • 35 Newell
  • 07 Wesolowski
  • 18 Whelpdale
  • 21 Davies
  • 09 Ball
Ref: Moss
Att: 12,662

Match Stats

Shots

8 7

On target

6 4

Corners

10 3

Fouls

9 13

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:11 Full time

Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.

90:00 +3:09

Grant McCann takes the free kick.

90:00 +3:09 Booking

Booking Luke Chadwick goes into the book for time wasting.

90:00 +2:57

Foul by Mathias Doumbe on Lee Tomlin, free kick awarded.

90:00 +0:33

Mathias Doumbe has a drilled shot. Save by Paul Jones.

88:54

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jabo Ibehre by Kelvin Langmead. Keanu Marsh-Brown takes the free kick.

88:35

Craig Mackail-Smith produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.

87:07

The assistant referee flags for offside against Keanu Marsh-Brown. Free kick taken by Kelvin Langmead.

86:08

Sam Baldock concedes a free kick for a foul on George Boyd. Lee Tomlin restarts play with the free kick.

82:18

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Keanu Marsh-Brown, save made by Mark Little.

81:38

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mathias Doumbe by George Boyd. Adam Clayton restarts play with the free kick.

80:58 Goal scored

Goal! - Grant McCann - MK Dons 3 - 2 Peterboro Placed penalty scored by Grant McCann. Milton Keynes Dons 3-2 Peterborough.

79:55 Dismissal

Dismissal Stephen Gleeson is shown a red card for serious foul play.

79:22

Stephen Gleeson concedes a Penalty for a foul on Mark Little.

78:20

Mathias Doumbe takes the direct free kick.

78:20 Substitution

Substitution Jabo Ibehre joins the action as a substitute, replacing Angelo Balanta.

78:20

Tommy Rowe challenges Mathias Doumbe unfairly and gives away a free kick.

75:55 Substitution

Substitution Keanu Marsh-Brown on for Daniel Powell.

74:05

Corner from the left by-line taken by Lee Tomlin, free kick awarded for a foul by Craig Mackail-Smith on David Martin. David Martin restarts play with the free kick.

71:34

Shot by David Ball from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.

69:19

Mathias Doumbe concedes a free kick for a foul on Craig Mackail-Smith. Lee Tomlin takes the free kick.

68:47

Sam Baldock has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.

66:56

The free kick is swung in left-footed by Dean Lewington, clearance by Kelvin Langmead.

66:56 Dismissal

Dismissal The referee sends off Charlie Lee for second bookable offence.

66:42

Free kick awarded for a foul by Charlie Lee on Daniel Powell.

64:42

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Grant McCann from the right by-line, save by David Martin.

61:42

Corner taken by Dean Lewington, clearance by Charlie Lee.

59:45 Substitution

Substitution Nathaniel Mendez-Laing goes off and David Ball comes on.

57:25

Corner taken by Angelo Balanta from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Charlie Lee.

55:37

Stephen Gleeson provided the assist for the goal.

55:37 Goal scored

Goal! - Angelo Balanta - MK Dons 3 - 1 Peterboro Angelo Balanta scores a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Milton Keynes Dons 3-1 Peterborough.

54:50

Dean Lewington crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, clearance by Charlie Lee.

54:50 Booking

Booking Charlie Lee goes into the book.

54:41

Charlie Lee challenges Daniel Powell unfairly and gives away a free kick.

51:10

Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Dean Lewington, Grant McCann manages to make a clearance.

50:20

Corner taken left-footed by Dean Lewington, clearance by Charlie Lee.

49:05 Goal scored

Goal! - Sam Baldock - MK Dons 2 - 1 Peterboro Free kick scored by Sam Baldock from long range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Milton Keynes Dons 2-1 Peterborough.

48:10

Free kick awarded for a foul by Tommy Rowe on Luke Chadwick.

46:04 Goal scored

Goal! - Daniel Powell - MK Dons 1 - 1 Peterboro Daniel Powell finds the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Milton Keynes Dons 1-1 Peterborough.

45:01

The second half begins.

45:00 +4:15 Half time

Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Paul Jones comes on in place of Joe Lewis.

43:44

Unfair challenge on Mark Little by Luke Chadwick results in a free kick. Ryan Bennett takes the free kick.

42:57

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Angelo Balanta.

42:44

Corner taken right-footed by Angelo Balanta, Grant McCann manages to make a clearance.

41:40

Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Dean Lewington, Gary MacKenzie takes a shot. Joe Lewis makes a save.

40:27

Free kick awarded for a foul by Gary MacKenzie on Kelvin Langmead. Free kick taken by Joe Lewis.

39:31

Corner taken left-footed by Dean Lewington, Mathias Doumbe takes a shot. Joe Lewis makes a save.

38:04

George Boyd gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adam Clayton. Direct free kick taken by Dean Lewington.

35:46

Foul by George Boyd on Dean Lewington, free kick awarded. David Martin takes the free kick.

35:03

Stephen Gleeson challenges Lee Tomlin unfairly and gives away a free kick. Grant McCann takes the direct free kick.

32:22

Luke Chadwick fouled by Charlie Lee, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Dean Lewington.

31:20 Substitution

Substitution Kelvin Langmead is brought on as a substitute for Gabriel Zakuani.

31:07

Shot from outside the area by Stephen Gleeson misses to the left of the target.

29:00

Free kick awarded for a foul by Mathias Doumbe on Tommy Rowe. Direct free kick taken by Grant McCann.

27:38

Corner taken left-footed by Dean Lewington from the right by-line, Grant McCann manages to make a clearance.

26:52

The assistant referee signals for offside against Craig Mackail-Smith. Free kick taken by David Martin.

25:14

Foul by Ryan Bennett on Sam Baldock, free kick awarded. Adam Clayton takes the free kick.

22:27

Shot by Lee Tomlin from 20 yards. Save by David Martin.

21:42

Corner taken left-footed by Grant McCann from the right by-line, Unfair challenge on Dean Lewington by Ryan Bennett results in a free kick. David Martin restarts play with the free kick.

15:00

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sam Baldock by Gabriel Zakuani. Free kick crossed by Angelo Balanta, clearance made by Gabriel Zakuani.

14:17

Effort on goal by Craig Mackail-Smith from just inside the area clears the bar.

12:46

George Boyd has an effort at goal. David Martin makes a save.

7:55

The assist for the goal came from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.

7:55 Goal scored

Goal! - Craig Mackail-Smith - MK Dons 0 - 1 Peterboro Craig Mackail-Smith scores a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Milton Keynes Dons 0-1 Peterborough.

7:42

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing takes a shot. Save by David Martin.

7:27

Luke Chadwick challenges Nathaniel Mendez-Laing unfairly and gives away a free kick. Grant McCann restarts play with the free kick.

0:00

The match gets underway.

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