MK Dons moved into the Sky Bet League One top six after a 1-0 victory over Portsmouth at Stadium MK.
The win – the Dons’ third straight at home – was nothing less than they deserved and it was given to them thanks to a 72nd-minute goal from Ethan Robson.
Hiram Boateng made his first league start for MK Dons since December 2019 as Liam Manning opted for three changes to his side.
Also coming in were Tennai Watson and the returning Troy Parrott, back from international duty. Max Watters was in the squad for the first time, among the substitutes.
There was half a chance early for MK Dons, after Parrott forced Bazunu into a rushed clearance. The ball fell to feet of Scott Twine but he was unable to fashion a shot on goal.
MK Dons fashioned another opportunity in the sixth minute, with Scott Twine playing a ball through to Parrott. Despite the tight angle, the Ireland international went for goal and forced a save out of Bazunu.
The chances kept coming for Liam Manning and his men. Three minutes later, Watson latched onto a cross-field pass from Ethan Robson and delivered a ball for Parrot, whose first-time effort was well-struck but wasn’t able to find the target.
Parrott had an another attempt just the 10 minute mark – a right-footed drive which went past Bazunu’s left-hand post. He almost had another on 14 minutes but was just beaten to Boateng’s through pass by Bazunu.
Despite spending much of the opening exchanges inside their own half, Portsmouth fashioned a decent opportunity with 17 minutes played. A cross from the right was met by Reeco Hackett-Fairchild but he headed high and wide.
The Dons went even closer on the half-hour through Boateng, whose curling 20-yard effort crashed against the bottom of the left post. They came away with a corner, from which Darling had a header saved by a diving Bazunu.
Portsmouth’s goalkeeper was in inspired form and he again denied Parrott on 33 minutes, this time from 10 yards out – a terrific save.
With six minutes to play in the half, the Dons worked a good opening for Watson, whose left-footed drive was blocked. Twine also had a shot deflected, this time towards goal, but it was kept out by Bazunu.
Manning’s side returned for the second half unchanged. The Dons’ control over the contest was unchanged too although it was Portsmouth who registered the first shot of the second period – a Marquis effort which was saved by the legs of Fisher.
That sparked the visitors into life and they went close again with 65 minutes played but, for a second time in quick succession, Fisher came up trumps, this time to deny substitute Ronan Curtis.
Portsmouth threatened again on 69 minutes but Ryan Tunnicliffe couldn’t keep his effort down.
The Dons, though, were continuing to look dangerous on the attack and they proved that to the fullest when they took the lead on 72 minutes.
Winning the ball deep inside their own half, Manning’s men broke forward with pace. Parrott sent Twine away down the left and he kept his composure to slide a ball across to Robson, who made no mistake with his finish. 1-0.
The Dons almost recreated their goal eight minutes later but, following another counter, Parrott wasn’t able to link up with Twine and, after being forced into an effort on goal, dragged his shot wide.
Harvie headed over from a Dons corner shortly after as Manning’s side searched for a second to put the result beyond doubt. Twine almost found it from the edge of the area with five minutes remaining but he drilled wide.
Watters came off the bench for his MK Dons debut late on and he played his part as the Dons saw out the remaining action – including five minutes of stoppage time – to secure all three points.
MK Dons: Fisher, Watson (Kioso 69), Lewington, O’Hora, Darling, O’Riley, Twine, Robson, Boateng (McEachran 62), Parrott (Watters 90), Harvie.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Jules, Brown, Martin.
Goal: Robson (72)
Booked: Parrott, Fisher
Portsmouth: Bazunu, Brown, Robertson, Williams, Tunnicliffe, Marquis (Harrison 78), Freeman (Romeo 56), Hackett-Fairchild (Curtis 54), Raggett, Morrell.
Subs: Bass, Ogilvie, Thompson, Azeez.
Referee: M Edwards
Attendance: 10,822 (2,920 away)