Quick-fire Lewis Gobern booked MK Dons a place in the FA Cup Second Round and gave boss Paul Ince a win over former club Macclesfield.
Substitute Gobern struck just three minutes after replacing the injured Martin Devaney with his first MK Dons goal, for what proved to be the winner against the League 2 Silkmen. And despite being denied a far more comfortable score-line at stadiummk, the Dons will be relieved to progress in a competition they have not faired well in during recent seasons.
It was a win typical of Ince's men in recent weeks - solid if not spectacular and with a score-line that perhaps didn't do justice to the openings they created. But few can argue with the run of results the Dons are currently establishing, particularly on their own patch where they have now won each of their last five in a row.
With the fit-again Luke Chadwick back in the side and Danny Woodards returning to the bench after an eight-week lay-off of his own, there was a spring in the Dons step early-on and they might have been in front as early as the seventh minute. Mathias Doumbe's chipped ball forward was controlled beautifully on the turn by Aaron Wilbraham on the edge of the box, but having done the hard bit with such class, the striker screwed his left-foot shot off target.
Well-organised but without an overriding threat, Macclesfield had looked limited in attack during the first half, though John Rooney - brother of England striker Wayne - did force Willy Gueret into a decent save on the quarter-hour with a well-struck half-volley. A dead leg brought Devaney's afternoon to an end on 22 minutes, but the on-loan Barnsley man's misfortune was to Gobern's benefit as the former Wolves winger stepped off the bench to immediate effect.
Stephen Gleeson burst forward to provide a delicate cross from the right and, after Wilbraham's attempted overhead kick fell to Jermaine Easter, the Dons leading scorer looked to have opened the scoring with the truest of strikes. Cape Verdean goalkeeper Jose Veiga somehow repelled the shot, but Gobern quashed his heroics by driving the rebound through a crowd of defenders into the top corner.
It was a super finish from the speedy wide-man and it served to settle the home side, who could have been home and hosed by the break. Stephen Gleeson, who was at his busy best in central midfield all afternoon, fired a well-worked free-kick just wide, Wilbraham curled just over the top from 25 yards and Gobern, released by the vision of Peter Leven, brought another brilliant save from Veiga on the stroke of half-time. Clearly urged by their manager to finish the job quickly after the break, the Dons came out fast after the interval and both Easter and Leven were denied by last-ditch tackles - the former by Paul Morgan and the latter by Hamza Bencherif.
The sight of Jason Puncheon stepping off the bench was a sign of Ince's intention to kill the game off, the on-loan Plymouth man having been rested from the start. And after Doumbe had whistled a shot just over on a venture forward from right-back, Puncheon nearly completed the task he was set with a trademark shot from distance that flew just wide.
Having managed to remain in the tie despite a string of Dons chances, Macclesfield could have got back on level terms on 73 minutes when substitute Ricky Sappleton won an aerial challenge on the edge of the box, but Emile Sinclair wasted a clear sight of goal with a poor finish. Dons reacted with even greater determination to seal the result and when Gleeson's pass was brilliantly dummied by both Wilbraham and Easter, Leven's well-struck shot was again blocked by Veiga.
Jose Veiga punches off the head of David McCracken. &nbsp; And despite Sinclair and Sappleton threatening the Dons' lead towards the end, it was the home side closing the stronger, with substitute Sam Baldock racing in behind, only for Bencherif to deny him with a superb last-ditch challenge. Dons head into Sunday's Second Round draw, where they'll hope for a tie that will offer them a good chance of reaching the all-important Third Round, where the giants of the Premier League potentially await.
MK Dons (4-4-2): Gueret; Doumbe, Powell, McCracken, Lewington (c); Devaney (Gobern 22), Gleeson, Leven, Chadwick (Puncheon 61); Easter (Baldock 76), Wilbraham.
Subs not used: Woodards, Searle, Ibehre, Howell.
Goals: Gobern 25
Macclesfield Town (4-4-2): Veiga, Brisley, Bencherif, Morgan (c), Reid (Brown 88); Sinclair, Bell, Draper, Daniel (Tipton 79), Wright (Sappleton 63), Rooney.
Subs not used: Brain, Reed, Bolland, Lowe.
Attendance: 4,868 (307 away)
Referee: Grant Hegley (Hertfordshire)