Two goals from Nicky Law either side of Jake Taylor's strike earned Exeter City a 3-1 win over MK Dons at St James Park.
The City number 8 struck early before captain Taylor furthered City's lead inside 20 minutes. The away side got back into the game through Joe Walsh just after half-time before Law then got his second when a mix up in the Dons' back line saw him finish from close range.
City boss Matt Taylor made one change to the side that overcame Cambridge United at the Park on Saturday, with Craig Woodman replacing Kane Wilson, who dropped to the bench. Deadline day loanee Donovan Wilson, signed from Wolves until the end of the season, made his first appearance in the matchday squad – also on the bench.
The Grecians started the game with a pulsating intensity; Lee Martin’s cross was headed away just as Jonathan Forte threatened to meet it, before Archie Collins’ deflected effort – worked after a short corner routine – hit a defender and went out for a corner.
And Exeter’s dominance of the opening minutes would pay dividends – Forte’s header across goal was met by Law from no more than six yards out and the City man made no mistake from close range after just eight minutes.
The visitors were spurned into life having gone a goal down, and their first real attack resulted in a chance for David Wheeler but his header flew well over Christy Pym’s crossbar.
But it would be City who would score next when skipper Jake Taylor collected the ball on the edge of the Dons’ box and fired a measured finish past visiting goalkeeper Lee Nicholls to double the Grecians’ lead after 18 minutes.
A superb through ball from Dara O’Shea then would have released Forte, but for the linesman’s flag being raised against the City forward. It could have been three just after the half-hour mark as some superb interplay between Forte and Law led to another chance for the latter, but his fiercely struck shot was saved by Nicholls.
The visitors would pull one back straight after half-time as Walsh rose highest to head home a corner and halve the deficit. Chuks Aneke then forced Pym into a fine save - diving to his left-hand side to keep out a header after 51 minutes.
The Grecians nearly restored their two-goal cushion through Lee Martin after a delightful pass by Holmes, but the former’s shot whistled agonisingly wide of the far post.
Aneke was a constant threat in the second-half with his aerial ability, and Pym was required again on 67 minutes to save from another header – which, thankfully for City, was straight at him.
But MK gifted Law a second, and City a third. A calamitous mix-up between goalkeeper Nicholls and goalscorer Walsh left Law with a tap-in to an empty goal after 73 minutes to give the Grecians some breathing space.
Law would be denied his hat-trick in the minutes that followed; the midfielder produced a delightful cut-back that sold two Dons’ defenders, and created a shot that was magnificently saved by Nicholls as it curled towards his far corner.
City would see out the rest of the game relatively comfortably to emerge 3-1 winners over their opponents.
Attendance: 5,766 (270 away)
EXETER CITY: Pym; Sweeney, O’Shea, Moxey, Woodman; L Martin, Collins, Taylor, Law; Holmes © (K Wilson 70); Forte (Bowman 88).
Subs not used: Hamon, A Martin, Williams, D Wilson, Dean.
MK DONS: Nicholls; Lewington ©, Walsh, Watson, Gilbey, Aneke, R Martin, Wheeler (Walker 75), Houghton (D’Ath 88), Cargill, Harley (Hesketh 55).
Subs not used: Moore, Baudry, Agard, McGrandles.
Booked: Cargill, Gilbey