MK Dons moved level on points with the automatic promotion places after a 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers at Stadium MK.
Mo Eisa put Liam Manning’s men ahead with his ninth goal of the season on 18 minutes before Scott Twine struck home a second in front of the Cowshed to seal all three points.
It’s a result that has the Dons on par with second-placed Wigan Athletic while their gap inside the play-off places now stands at 10.
Liam Manning made two changes to his MK Dons side, as David Kasumu and Mo Eisa came in for Josh McEachran and Connor Wickham. Theo Corbeanu, meanwhile, missed out through illness and was replaced on the bench by Jack Davies.
MK Dons made a bright start and could have been in on goal after four minutes but Dean Lewington’s through pass for Eisa had a little too much on it.
Kaine Kesler Hayden then went close following a surging run into the box but his shot was blocked brilliantly by George Johnston. Eisa, on the follow up, was also denied by a block.
A few minutes later, the MK Dons number 10 had a decent shout for a penalty turned down by Sebastian Stockbridge – Eisa appeared to be shoved off the ball unfairly but the challenged was deemed legal by the referee.
The Dons then went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock through Twine, who had got behind the Bolton backline deep inside the area. He managed to get a shot away, though it was saved onto the post by James Trafford, who then smothered the rebound.
Eisa had another appeal for a penalty turned down with 17 minutes played but he wasn’t to be denied for too much longer as he opened the scoring just 60 seconds later.
Darling was the creator as he surged forward through a gap in the Bolton team and, from range, fired a shot on goal which Trafford could only parry away. Eisa pounced and although denied at the first attempt, the striker kept his composure to slot home the loose ball. 1-0.
The creator of the goal, Darling, then produced a vital interception to prevent Bolton responding through Dion Charles soon after the re-start. The Dons countered from that attack but Kelser Hayden wasn’t able to get a shot away after being found by Eisa inside the area.
Midway through the first half, Warren O’Hora met with Twine’s corner but couldn’t direct his header on target. Bolton then went close, twice, before the break – first, Amadou Bakayoko was denied by a stunning reaction save by Cumming, and then Kyle Dempsey send a fizzing effort past the post.
Half-Time – MK Dons 1-0 Bolton Wanderers
It was a fiery start to the second half, with both sides jumping into tackles with full force. Bolton ended up with a free-kick from one of those tackles but it ended up in the grateful arms of Cumming via the head of O’Hora.
Just past the hour mark, Darling came up with another crucial interception to deal with a dangerous pull-back into a crowded penalty area. From the resulting corner, Ricardo Santos headed over.
Manning then went to his bench for the first time, replacing Eisa with Connor Wickham. He was one of two targets for Parrott when he broke into the box on 72 minutes, though it was Twine that the Irishman went for - unfortunately, the ball in was cut out by Gethin Jones.
The Dons were starting to regain control of the contest and with a quarter of an hour to go, they found the second goal to show for it.
Kelser Hayden did brilliantly to race onto a loose pass from Trafford and then burst into the box. He found Twine who took one touch to get away from his man, before rifling with his left foot. 2-0.
Twine tried his luck at a second from a free-kick but saw his attempt dip too late to trouble Trafford. He then set up Parrott to extend the lead to three but the Tottenham Hotspur loanee saw his shot saved.
Bolton substitute Oladapo Afolayan flashed a left-footed shot wide with five minutes remaining. Lewington then got in the way of a curling Kieran Sadlier effort which looked to be heading towards the target.
Those chances were the closest the visitors came to getting on the scoresheet and preventing the Dons from extending their unbeaten run to eight with their third straight victory.
Full-Time – MK Dons 2-0 Bolton Wanderers
MK Dons: Cumming, Watson, Lewington, O’Hora, Darling, Kasumu (McEachran 76), Twine, Eisa (Wickham 69), Coventry, Parrott, Kesler Hayden.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Smith, Kemp, Boateng, Davies.
Goals: Eisa (18), Twine (74)
Bolton Wanderers: Trafford, Jones, John (Sadlier 72), Williams, Santos, Johnston, Charles, Bakayoko (Bodvarsson 72), Fossey, Morley (Afolayan 46), Dempsey.
Subs: Dixon, Aimson, Thomason, Gordon.
Referee: S Stockbridge
Attendance: 10,388 (2,081 away)