Match ends, Bolton Wanderers 3, MK Dons 1.
Bolton Wanderers ended a tough week on a high note as they beat MK Dons to register only their third Championship win of the season.
Rob Holding bundled in his first Wanderers goal and Trotters captain Darren Pratley doubled the lead from an acute angle before half-time.
The Dons were second best, but Josh Murphy's late strike gave them hope.
But Shola Ameobi's composed injury-time finish sealed the points in his final Bolton appearance.
Trotters boss Neil Lennon and coaches held a whip-round during the week to help pay administrative staff at the financially-troubled club, and the gesture seemed to inspire Wanderers who threatened for much of the first half.
Gary Madine's header was hacked off the line by Dons' Jake Forster-Caskey, and Bolton's on-loan Arsenal winger Wellington Silva, who was excellent throughout, saw a shot tipped around the post by goalkeeper David Martin.
Dons created few chances despite their greater possession, but almost levelled when Joe Walsh's header skimmed the crossbar. Pratley then made it 2-0 with his third goal in five games.
Bolton maintained their momentum after the break as Holding's thrilling run and curling shot forced a fine save from Martin, who then stopped a fine Madine strike.
Murphy's curling shot set up a tense finish, but Ameobi - in the final game of a short-term deal - was determined to sign off in style, looping a header onto the crossbar before sealing the points moments later.
Bolton, subject of a winding-up petition from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and £172.9m in debt, remain bottom of the table, but moved to within five points of safety.
The Dons remain without an away league win since the opening day of the season and stay 20th, just two points above the relegation zone.
Bolton boss Neil Lennon:
"What we got was two halves of attacking football. We could have won the game more comfortably.
"It was a must-win game and players responded brilliantly. I have nothing but praise for them.
"I have never stopped believing we can get out of trouble. MK Dons might not be one of the superior teams in the division, but there was a lot of pressure on us going into the game and the players handled it very well under the circumstances.
"It would have been a travesty had we dropped points on the chances we created and the way we played. Hopefully it is a platform to build on."
MK Dons manager Karl Robinson:
"We weren't good enough. We looked lethargic, second to every ball, bullied in areas of the pitch and the only one who came out with any credit was Jake Forster-Caskey.
"Bolton have got a better squad than us, they have played at a higher level with players who have achieved a lot of things.
"When they fancy it and when they get the first goal and when they are at it, it's a difficult place to play. And we allowed them to get at it.
"We started slowly and sluggish and the players need to look at themselves. They were very harsh with each other after the game, but fair."
- 21PratleyBooked at 76mins
- 16DaviesBooked at 64mins
- 22WellingtonSubstituted forSpearingat 86'minutes
- 14MadineSubstituted forAmeobiat 79'minutes
- 44Forster-CaskeyBooked at 74mins
- 14CarruthersBooked at 59minsSubstituted forPowellat 80'minutes
- 23WilliamsSubstituted forBowditchat 62'minutes
- 11ChurchSubstituted forRasuloat 62'minutes
- Kevin Wright
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Bolton Wanderers 3, MK Dons 1.
Attempt missed. Jake Forster-Caskey (MK Dons) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Daniel Powell.
Goal! Bolton Wanderers 3, MK Dons 1. Shola Ameobi (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Dean Moxey.
Goal! Bolton Wanderers 2, MK Dons 1. Josh Murphy (MK Dons) right footed shot from more than 35 yards to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Daniel Powell following a corner.
Corner, MK Dons. Conceded by Ben Amos.
Attempt saved. Jake Forster-Caskey (MK Dons) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Dean Bowditch.
Giorgio Rasulo (MK Dons) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Liam Trotter (Bolton Wanderers).
Attempt saved. Mark Davies (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal.
Substitution, Bolton Wanderers. Jay Spearing replaces Wellington.
Foul by Jordan Spence (MK Dons).
Darren Pratley (Bolton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Bolton Wanderers. Conceded by David Martin.
Attempt saved. Shola Ameobi (Bolton Wanderers) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mark Davies.
Foul by Antony Kay (MK Dons).
Shola Ameobi (Bolton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, MK Dons. Daniel Powell replaces Samir Carruthers.
Attempt missed. Liam Trotter (Bolton Wanderers) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Mark Davies following a corner.
Substitution, Bolton Wanderers. Shola Ameobi replaces Gary Madine because of an injury.