Daniel Powell’s second-half strike saw the Dons secure their first ever Sky Bet Championship victory at stadiummk on Tuesday evening.
Cristian Benavente started his first game for the Dons while Simon Church also came into the starting XI – the injured Ben Reeves and Sam Gallagher made way.
A defensive mistake from the visitors almost gifted the Dons a golden chance to take the lead on seven minutes but Ben Amos was alert to clear the danger, albeit off the legs of Church, who charged down the Trotters’ keeper.
Darren Potter then curled a 25-yard effort over the top from 25 yards before Carl Baker fired a ferocious drive not far off target as the men from MK1 started very brightly in attack.
At the other end, David Martin tipped over a stinging shot from Bolton’s left-back Dean Moxey, and from the resulting corner Prince Desire-Gouano glanced a header narrowly past the post with 15 minutes on the clock.
Shortly afterwards, some stunning football from the Dons created an opportunity for Carruthers, who after being involved in a classy one-two with Benavente, forced a smart save from Amos.
A magnificent last-ditch challenge from Antony Kay denied Zach Clough just before the half-hour while, at the other end, Baker saw a shot well saved after turning his marker inside and out.
Martin ensured the score remained level on 38 minutes, pulling off a first-class stop to push Clough’s effort on to the crossbar and behind for a corner.
The Dons responded and Jordan Spence raced down the right before feeding Baker, who sent a dipping effort inches over the top with the last real action of the first half.
In the opening stages of the second half, Carruthers sliced an effort over before the Dons forced Bolton to clear at the very last following good build-up play.
Robinson’s men were growing in confidence and Spence delivered dangerously on 53 minutes but Church couldn’t quite reach it.
Bolton almost caught the Dons on the counter less four minutes later but Kay was on hand to thwart Gary Madine after he had initially created space for himself inside the box.
Roared on by a noisy home faithful, the Dons continued to push back their opponents, dominating possession and territorial advantage as they looked for an opener.
Their pressure finally told on 60 minutes when Carruthers brilliantly played in substitute Powell, who curled home a fine effort past Amos. 1-0
They didn’t stop there though as they remained virtually camped inside the half of the Trotters, who did threaten momentarily through a header from Dorian Dervite.
Clough clipped Moxey’s cross over the top from 10 yards as the visitors began to see more of the ball with 15 minutes remaining.
The Dons hadn’t given up hope of extending their lead though and Dean Lewington headed over Bowditch’s free-kick from the right.
Martin moved quickly across his goal-line to smartly save substitute Emile Heskey’s low drive after Bolton had asked questions of the Dons’ defence with five minutes to go.
Powell almost grabbed a second in fortuitous circumstances after a burst down the left before McFadzean found himself furthest forward but he couldn’t hit the target with almost the last kick.
MK Dons: Martin; Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington (c); Potter, Carruthers; Baker, Benavente (Powell 56), Bowditch (Upson 82); Church (Gallagher 68).
Subs not used: Cropper, Hodson, Aguza, Jennings, Gallagher.
Goals: Powell (60).
Bookings: Carruthers, Potter.