A professional performance saw MK Dons record an opening away win of the season at Plymouth Argyle.
Aidan’s Nesbitt ninth-minute goal on his first start for Robbie Neilson’s side ultimately proved the difference but the Dons also had to stand firm at the other end to take the points.
After impressing last weekend, Callum Brittain was handed his inaugural league start while Nesbitt started his first game for the Dons and Osman Sow returned to the starting XI after recovering from a thigh injury.
The hosts started on the front foot with both David Fox and Jake Jervis firing efforts over the top in the opening minutes, the second of which was 12 yards out following a Graham Carey free-kick.
Ousseynou Cisse, back in the side, freed Sow down the left but, after some nice footwork, the striker was crowded out before Brittain showed good tenacity down the opposite flank.
Brittain was at it again on nine minutes and it proved to be crucial as his delivery was controlled and brilliantly smashed home at the back post by Nesbitt – his first Dons goal.
Carey shot off target, Gary Sawyer saw an effort blocked by Brittain and Scott Golbourne picked up a great position to head away under his own crossbar as the game approached the 20-minute mark.
The Dons were handling things relatively comfortably at the back while, at the other end, Alex Gilbey dragged a strike not too far past the post after a swift counter attack.
That was followed up by another good move by the Dons, which ended with Gboly Ariyibi directing Golbourne’s cut-back narrowly wide of the right-hand upright.
Argyle came within inches of an equaliser midway through the half but Nadir Ciftci’s 25-yard free-kick came back off the crossbar.
Sow almost marked his return with a stunning goal on 27 minutes although, after superbly making room for himself, his fierce drive was just wide of the target.
More good work from Dons’ No.9 helped create shooting chances for Ariyibi and Nesbitt, who both were denied by blocks – the men from MK1 were looking strong.
They were forced to do some defending on 32 minutes but Golbourne was once again in the right place to clear away the danger six yards out.
Plymouth were reduced to 10 men on 33 minutes when Carey was shown a straight red card for a very late challenge on Ariyibi down this near touchline.
The Dons saw out the half but they were grateful on 43 minutes to Lee Nicholls, who was out of his goal quickly to deny Ciftci after he had been picked out over the top. Brittain was on hand to help fully clear the danger with a strong challenge on Jervis.
Neilson’s side started the second half in a controlled manner, enjoying the majority of possession while also comfortably keeping their opponents at bay.
Their first chance of the final 45 fell to Ariyibi, who curled an effort narrowly wide of the far post from the apex of the 18-yard box.
Argyle threatened on the hour mark when Ryan Edwards headed goalwards but Nicholls was able to watch the effort past his left-hand post.
The Dons were dominating the ball but they had a huge let-off midway through the second half when Joel Grant shot over from close range after being picked out by Jamie Ness.
Shortly afterwards, substitute Alex Fletcher headed over Sawyer’s left-wing cross under pressure from Scott Wootton before Brittain denied Grant’s delivery picking out a team-mate.
Plymouth were enjoying their best spell of pressure as the game entered the final 15 minutes but the Dons were making it difficult for them to create anything clear-cut, with an off-target Edwards header the closest they came during that time.
However, Sonny Bradley should have levelled matters with five minutes remaining but he glanced his header wide inside the six-yard box.
Some resolute defending saw the Dons manage the rest of normal time and the six minutes of injury-time to claim a first away win, sending the 211 Dons fans home happy.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Brittain, Wootton, Williams (c), Golbourne; Cisse, Nesbitt (Agard 82), Upson (McGrandles 16), Gilbey, Ariyibi; Sow (Muirhead 77).
Unused subs: Sietsma, Lewington, Thomas-Asante, Seager.
Goal: Nesbitt (9).
Bookings: Williams, Sow, Muirhead, Cisse.
Attendance: 8,566 (211 MK Dons fans).