Osman Sow proved the match-winner on his MK Dons debut as Robbie Neilson’s men beat Gillingham 1-0 at Stadium MK.
Sow’s diving header two minutes after the break was enough to hand the Dons their first three points of the season.
That sparked an exciting second half, which included both sides missing a spot-kick in a frantic final 10 minutes.
Neilson handed the Dons’ new No.9 a start while Joe Walsh, who signed a new deal on Friday, came in at the back.
Lee Nicholls made the first save of the afternoon inside the opening minute when he comfortably gathered an effort from Josh Parker.
Sow began brightly and his movement was offering an outlet for the Dons, who went very close on 12 minutes courtesy of a long-range strike from Aaron Tshibola.
Two minutes later, Scott Wootton and George Williams - captain with Dean Lewington on the substitutes’ bench - put their bodies on the line to deny Parker after he had found some space in the Dons’ box.
Sow’s runs were causing the Gills problems and the one off his marker to receive a clever ball back from Ryan Seager presented an opportunity but his shot was deflected over the bar on 17 minutes.
The game continued to ebb and flow with the next chance falling to the visitors and Lee Martin, who fired over from a tight angle after being picked out by Tom Eaves midway through the half.
Seager went on another purposeful run before setting up Sow, who fired over the free-kick from 20 yards after being upended – those two were linking up nicely.
Gboly Ariyibi came to life on 37 minutes, beating three men with some fancy footwork before placing a curling effort just over the bar – would’ve been a stunning solo goal.
With the second half just two minutes old, Sow marked his debut with a goal when he sent a superb diving header past Tomas Holy from Tshibola’s pintpoint cross.
His striker partner Seager ensured the score remained 1-0 shortly afterwards, picking up a crucial position at the crucial time to clear the danger.
Substitute Pete Pawlett made an immediate impression, receiving the ball and driving forward before setting up Sow, who saw his shot blocked from the edge of the box.
Backed by the vocal home supporters, Ariyibi then forced a smart save from Holy after a stepover had opened up the space 20 yards out.
Pawlett continued to impress and he shot goalwards after a nice one-two with Seager while, at the other end, Martin’s touch let him down at the crucial moment.
Dons’ No.11 was at the heart of most attacking moves for the men from MK1, who almost doubled their lead through fellow substitute Kieran Agard but he was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle with 20 minutes remaining.
Despite enjoying the lion share of possession, territorial advantage and chances, Neilson’s side were finding it difficult to score that elusive second, but that didn’t deter them in their search for it.
They were presented with a golden opportunity to increase the lead when Seager was fouled in the box but Agard’s penalty was saved – Tshibola’s rebound was smothered by Holy.
Shortly afterwards, Trevor Kettle awarded Gillingham a spot-kick for what he felt was a foul by Nicholls on Liam Nash – maybe justice was done as Josh Wright fired over the top.
A crazy end to a game which the Dons enjoyed much the better of, deservedly collecting their first three points of the season.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams (c), Ebanks-Landell, Wootton, Walsh; Ariyibi (Upson 81), Cisse, Tshibola, Muirhead (Pawlett 52); Seager, Sow (Agard 60).
Unused subs: Sietsma, Brittain, Lewington, McGrandles.
Goal: Sow (47).
Bookings: Tshibola, Cisse, Pawlett.
Attendance: 7,901 (583 Gillingham fans).