Jacques Maghoma’s second-half strike proved to be the difference in a tight encounter at St. Andrew’s.
Having played just two days previous, Karl Robinson opted to freshen things up by bringing in Joe Walsh, Diego Poyet, Carl Baker, Dean Bowditch, Daniel Powell and Sam Gallagher – Walsh making his first start since August after recovering from a knee injury.
Powell had the ball in the net as early as the first minute but the ‘goal’ was rightly ruled out for offside after he had latched on to Gallagher’s pass.
The Dons started strongly as a whole, dominating possession and territorial advantage with the front a fresh front four looking lively.
At the other end, Walsh was alive to cut out a pass aimed for Clayton Donaldson before David Martin made a smart improvised save to prevent a deflected effort from beating him in the ninth minute.
That livened up the hosts, who broke shortly afterwards with the attack culminating in former Don Stephen Gleeson sending an effort not far past the right-hand post.
A chance for either side followed in the 14th minute – Samir Carruthers curling a shot wide from 20 yards for the men from MK1 and Donaldson seeing a goal-bound drive blocked for Gary Rowett’s side.
Martin then tipped Jon Toral’s dipping 20-yard free-kick over the top prior to comfortably gathering a close-range effort from Donaldson, as the Blues began to look more of a threat.
However, the Dons were still looking dangerous themselves and they almost took the lead on 22 minutes but Powell’s low drive was saved and Gallagher was just beaten to it by his marker as he aimed to turn home the rebound.
Chances continued to flow and Martin had to get down well on 24 minutes to deny Viv Solomon-Otabor’s near-post effort finding the back of the net.
The high intensity remained but a lull in terms of opportunities followed with the next chance not coming until the 40th minute when Gallagher headed Jordan Spence’s wide of the target.
The first move of the second half ended in substitute Josh Murphy going down under a challenge in the box but the referee waved away the appeals for a penalty.
Following a quick break from the Dons, Baker dragged a low drive wide of the target while, at the other end, Jacques Maghoma saw a shot blocked by Poyet.
The men from MK1 were very lucky to still be on level terms 55 minutes in, Donaldson working a golden opportunity for himself before somehow hitting the crossbar from just 10 yards – a big let-off.
Maghoma made up for his team-mate’s miss on 63 minutes, twisting and turning away from Dons defenders before firing past Martin from 12 yards. A fine individual goal.
Cramp forced Walsh to come off on 76 minutes, with boss Robinson opting to send on Ben Reeves, who immediately got involved but blazed over from distance.
The Dons continued to try and create as they looked for a leveller but it was the hosts who almost made it 2-0 in injury-time but substitute Demarai Gray hit the post from 12 yards.
There was still time for substitute Nicky Maynard to head wide, the Dons’ final opportunity of the afternoon.
MK Dons: Martin; Spence, McFadzean, Walsh (Reeves 76), Lewington (c); Poyet, Carruthers; Baker, Bowditch, Powell (Murphy 32); Gallagher (Maynard 62).
Unused subs: Cropper, Hodson, Kay, Hall.
Bookings: Carruthers, Baker, Maynard. Murphy.
Attendance: 19, 714 (980 Dons fans).
Referee: Andy Davies.