Scott Fraser's first half penalty secured Milton Keynes Dons all three points at home against Portsmouth, who ended the match with ten men.
The Dons came into the match on the back of a disappointing 4-0 mid-week loss to Lincoln City, looking to get back to winning ways with two losses and a draw over their previous three fixtures.
The match saw the return of David Kasumu to the starting line-up for the first time since December, with the physical midfielder kept on the side-lines with injury troubles.
Things began lively from both sides, seeing the ball carried from end-to-end multiple times in the opening five minutes. Quick passes and movement setting the pace of the match from the start.
Portsmouth were the first to threaten in front of goal, with a low-driven shot from outside the box being held comfortably by Andrew Fisher after a three-on-three break from the visitors.
The Dons themselves then threatened moments later when Matt O'Riley saw a curling shot from outside the box hit the far post, with the ball eventually falling to Andrew Surman - seeing his own effort narrowly go over the bar.
Russell Martin's side had another chance when Scott Fraser's pinpoint cross found a wide open O'Riley, who headed the ball wide of goal despite no pressure from the Portsmouth defence.
John Marquis then threatened for the visitors, sending an overhead kick at goal from inside the penalty area, only to see Fisher make a spectacular diving save to keep the sides level at 0-0.
In one passage of play, the Dons were inches from opening the scoring, with Will Grigg narrowly missing a cross in from Laird at the goal mouth, only to see Portsmouth go down the other end and hit the woodwork themselves as both sides continued to play with a high tempo.
The Dons took the lead after 41 minutes of play thanks to a Scott Fraser penalty. Laird was taken down in the box, with the referee pointing to the spot.
Fraser, the team's designated taker this season, sent goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray the wrong way and put the Dons on the board with just a handful of minutes before half time.
The Dons came close to extending their lead when Laird's trickery allowed Grigg to get a close-range shot inside the box, which was blocked. Grigg then collected the ball again and his second effort once again found another Portsmouth body in the way, keeping the visitors just one goal back.
The whistle was ultimately blown on a truly lively first half, which could have seen either side score a number of goals. But it was Fraser's shot from the penalty spot that sent the home side in leading 1-0.
The Dons continued their lively play immediately from kick-off, with some neat passing leading to Grigg teeing up Fraser in the middle of the box - seeing the Scottish midfielder's effort rattle the crossbar less than a minute into the second half.
Moments later and Portsmouth themselves hit the upright thanks to a header from inside the Dons' penalty area, with Laird managing to clear the danger.
The tempo of the match settled down as the second half progressed, with the Dons looking to control the game through the midfield and keep the visitors at bay.
A Portsmouth free kick threatened the Dons' lead just shy of 70 minutes in, with a shot from inside the box forcing Fisher into a diving save - pushing the ball away from goal and into a crowd of players before it was cleared.
The visitors were allowed another shot on goal minutes later, despite Laird appearing to be thrown off the ball in the build up, but the effort was saved regardless by an outstretched Fisher.
Jack Whatmough found himself sent off with just ten minutes to go with a rash two-footed challenge in the middle of the pitch, leaving the visitors with ten men to see out the final portion of the match.
With more room to operate, the Dons pressed forward and O'Riley could have extended their lead with his low-hit shot from the edge of the Portsmouth box rolling just wide of MacGillivray's left-side post.
Frustration began to build among the visiting players, desperate to avoid defeat, with plenty of physicality and clashes throughout the five minutes of injury time added on.
The Dons held on, however, and looked the more likely to extend their lead. Ultimately, however, Fraser's first half strike from the spot was enough to secure all three points for Martin's men, getting them back to winning ways.
With four matches remaining this season, the Dons are already mathematically safe and will now simply look to secure their position in the League One standings, with their next fixture coming on the road at Bristol Rovers on Tuesday before returning to Stadium MK to take on Swindon Town next Saturday.
MK Dons Line-Up: Fisher, Laird, Lewington, Darling, Jules, Sorinola, Kasumu (65' Brown), Surman (85' Houghton), Fraser (65' McEachran), O'Riley, Grigg