Goals from Jabo Ibehre and Dean Bowditch helped MK Dons to a 2-0 win at Exeter City and their first win of the League 1 season.
Ibehre netted his third goal in as many games, which includes the Dons' Carling Cup win in midweek, midway through the first half and that looked to be enough until Bowditch, on as a second half substitute, finished with a finely taken first goal for the Club in the 90th minute.
The game at St. James' Park promised plenty in the build up but Exeter's lack of options up front due to an array of injures left the hosts a little toothless in front of goal.
Inside the opening two minutes Exeter had a good opportunity in front of goal when Callum McNish found room 25-yards-out and dipped a fine strike inches over the bar.
Exeter, despite being short of options up front so early in the season due to injury, found themselves with the best chances in the early phases. When Liam Sercombe picked up the ball in midfield he was able to move inside the box but with Gary MacKenzie marking him expertly he quickly fired a shot which was blocked well by the big Scotsman to take the ball inches over.
From the resulting free-kick Nicholas Bignall, afforded acres of space, then sent a follow-up over the bar.
The home side pressed high up the pitch, leaving the Dons to be patient and needing to take the most of their opportunities when they came. Ibehre, playing in the role behind lone-striker Sam Baldock that had served so well in the Carling Cup victory over Cheltenham, showed further signs of promise when he shrugged off the presence of Troy Archibald-Henville to roll past the defender yet he was unable to guide his shot on target.
The Dons took their time but slowly took control of the game as their ability to keep the ball and play possession football shone through, although Exeter were still able to find gaps in the Dons' defence.
Callum McNish found space on the edge of the box to call on David Martin with a weak left footed effort.
Then Robinson's men turned on the style for a brief moment, and that was all that was needed as the visitors broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute. The move started on the left flank with Dean Lewington but soon involved several members of the squad as Sam Baldock and Ibehre held up the ball and dragged the City defence apart to allow Balanta into the action on the right of the box.
The QPR-loanee twisted one way and then the other, turning around the men in front of him before picking his moment to shoot. The initial shot was blocked and looped up before Ibehre reacted sharply to tap beyond Artur Krysiak with his outstretched foot.
Exeter, though showing some intelligent touches, struggled to break through the Dons' defence of Shaun Williams and MacKenzie which forced another long range effort from McNish which never looked like troubling Martin.
On the stroke of the break the Grecians could have levelled the scores when a mistake by Balanta allowed Exeter with a sniff at goal. A wonderful chipped cross from Stephen Gleeson found Balanta on the opposite wing, but the wide man miss controlled allowing Sercombe to whip in a dangerous cross however, Bignall glanced his header wide when he had the goal at his mercy.
Immediately after the break Ibehre could have bagged his brace after Balanta had skimmed a number of players as he burst into the box and cut back for Ibehre, but the striker's awkward touch took the ball well over the bar.
Exeter had a bit more threat about them in the second half and introduced Tom Nichols early on, while the Dons brought on former Yeovil striker Dean Bowditch for Balanta.
Hints of an equaliser came from the Grecians when Bignall, who got himself into lively positions but struggled to convert, curled the ball over the bar with his left foot.
It was not the silky display of all-out football that most had expected from the fixture but that ensured a different element to the Dons was on show, one that could withstand pressure that came and held firm when needed.
A free-kick on the very edge of the Dons' box presented the home side with another chance to get back on level terms and when David Noble delivered the ball short and into space for James Dunne most at St. James' would have expected the net to ripple. But once again MacKenzie, who was superb throughout, was in the perfect position to block the fierce drive.
Bowditch put in a decent shift during his appearance as he dropped deep to add extra strength to the midfield and twice picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch and had the ability to do more with the ball, although his decision making prevented him from calling on Krysiak.
The striker linked up well with Baldock in the final few minutes as he fed the ball through yet Baldock's shot was deflected wide.
Dons did have the final say though when Chadwick's intelligent pass thread the ball through for Bowditch who showed a clean pair of heels as he raced down the left flank and with bags of confidence coolly slotted into the bottom corner to seal the win in style.
Exeter City (4-3-3): Krysiak; Tully, Archibald-Henville, Duffy, Goulbourne; Sercombe, Noble (c), Dunne; Shephard (Jones73), McNish (Nichols 55), Bignall.
Subs: Pidgeley, Coles, Bennett.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Chicksen, MacKenzie, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Balanta (Bowditch 59), Ibehre (Powell 75), Chadwick (O'Shea 90); S Baldock.
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan.
Goals: Ibehre 23, Bowditch 90
Referee: Steve Rushton (Staffordshire)
Attendance: 4,832 (185 away)