MK Dons 0-2 Huddersfield
Last updated on .From the section Football
Huddersfield took a huge step towards the League One play-off final with a deserved semi-final first leg victory at MK Dons.
Jordan Rhodes struck midway through the first half, guiding his header beyond Dons keeper David Martin.
Dean Lewington missed a superb chance to level from four yards out before Lee Novak squandered an opportunity to double the Terriers' lead.
But Jack Hunt's well-taken finish gave the away side a two-goal cushion.
The play-offs have been unkind to both sides in past campaigns - MK have failed to go beyond the semi-finals in three attempts, while the Terriers have fallen short at the post-season stage in the last two campaigns.
Only one point separated the clubs during the regular season - Huddersfield coming out on top - but Rhodes showed why he had netted more than double the number of goals than the Dons' highest scorer Dean Bowditch.
Rhodes's header from Novak's cross, shortly after substitute Kallum Higginbotham should have beat Martin, was guided perfectly into the far corner and took his tally to 39 for the season.
MK should have been level immediately after the break when Shaun Williams's free-kick fell to the feet of Lewington, but his point-blank strike cannoned off keeper Ian Bennett.
The 40-year-old custodian once again defied his years, pulling off a double save from Bowditch and Daniel Powell.
The home side's profligacy almost cost them dear when Rhodes's flick-on released Lee Novak, but he dragged wide when hitting the target seemed like a simple task.
Eventually MK, who were short of ideas all afternoon, were made to pay and it was courtesy of a moment of the highest quality.
A quick interchange between Hunt and Higginbotham down the right-hand side saw the former charge into the area and he dispatched a shot that wrong-footed Martin on its way into the net.
There was still time for Bennett to pull off a sharp save from a Jabo Ibehre header deep into injury time.
But Huddersfield, organised superbly by the determined Damien Johnson in midfield, rode out the final 10 minutes with little concern and will head back to West Yorkshire as clear favourites to progress to Wembley.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
MK Dons manager Karl Robinson:
"It was a really weird game. I thought there was nothing in at all.
"It was a stalemate with effort and passion. They didn't have a chance and next thing Rhodes pops up with a goal.
"And the second half was probably more in our favour. It's a sucker punch but there's a long way to go."
Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson:
"We're obviously delighted we've won the game, but more importantly with the level of performance we've put in.
"We worked extremely hard over the last 10 days or so on our game plan and every individual stuck to it.
"We were solid and broke quickly and they did what we asked them to do, and that's great as a manager."