The home team were a man short for more than an hour, but made a real game of it in the second half after being two down at the break.
It was always a tense game, but Hartlepool finished it with a sense of injustice over the sending-off and over a late goal they thought they scored was disallowed.
After weathering early home attacks, keeper Willy Gueret saving Michael Nelson's header on the line, the Dons took over towards half-time.
Home skipper Sam Collins was sent off on 27 minutes, shown a straight red by referee Neil Swarbrick after a tussle on the edge of the area with Jemal Johnson after being booked ten minutes earlier.
Dons took little time to make their numerical advantage count, two quick goals putting them in command.
They were ahead on 37 minutes when skipper Dean Lewington curled a 20-yard shot into the top corner and two minutes later Johnson crossed low from the right for Mark Wright to score an easy close-range goal.
But within seconds of the restart, Pools narrowed the gap as Kevin Kyle's low shot from wide on the right was diverted into the roof of his own net by Dons defender Sean O'Hanlon for a spectacular own goal.
Kyle sent an overhead kick over the Dons bar and Ben Clark had what he thought was a headed equaliser disallowed for offside in the last minute.
But in added time, Dons sub Daniel Powell plundered a third from close in after a low cross from the right by fellow sub Aaron Wilbraham.