Charlie Brown came off the bench to earn MK Dons a point at Highbury Stadium, as they and Fleetwood Town played out a 1-1 draw.
Gerard Garner’s curling effort on the hour looked to have consigned Russell Martin’s men to their first defeat in four matches but Brown slotted home a loose ball in the 83rd-minute, as the Dons maintained their ninth-placed standing in the Sky Bet League One table.
MK Dons made one enforced change from the side which beat Swindon Town at Stadium MK last weekend, as Ethan Laird, unfit to start, was replaced by Josh McEachran. Louis Thompson returned to the squad after missing the last three games through injury and was among the substitutes.
The Dons started brightly, with Matthew Sorinola delivering an early low cross for Will Grigg – one which was intercepted by a Fleetwood defender at the near post.
At the other end, Harry Darling got in the way of Wes Burns’ ball into the box before the Fleetwood number 10 saw his header crash against the post from the resulting corner.
The first shot on goal arrived just past the quarter-hour mark when a ball fell to the feet of Grigg inside the area, after Sorinola was unable to bring McEachran’s long pass under control. The MK Dons number 9 sent a first-time effort towards goal but dragged it just wide.
Fleetwood had the ball in the net five minutes later but Garner was offside from Burns’ cross. The Dons responded by winning a corner from which Darling had a header blocked on its way to goal. From the next delivery, McEachran also had an effort blocked.
On 25 minutes, Sorinola forced Alex Cairns into a diving save down at near post – the wing back did well to create space for a shot on the edge of the area before sending a low drive towards the bottom corner.
Sorinola worked his way into the Fleetwood box again, two minutes later, but wasn’t able to deliver a cross for either Scott Fraser or Grigg, who were lurking.
On the half-hour, Jules got himself in the way of an attempt from Harrison Biggins. The Dons were then soon forced into a change due to an injury to Matt O’Riley – he was replaced by Lasse Sorensen.
A scrappy final 15 minutes followed before the break, although Fisher was called into action to make a save from a goal-bound direct free-kick in stoppage-time.
Martin made a second substitution at the break, replacing Kasumu with Louis Thompson in the middle of the park. His side threatened an opener 11 minutes into the second period, but Fraser’s cross ended up in the arms of Cairns.
They also had an opportunity on the counter attack, three minutes after, but Darling was just offside before latching onto McEachran’s through pass – the centre-back would have had a clear run on goal, if not for the flag.
Fraser forced Cairns into another save on the hour with a well-hit left-footed strike but it was Fleetwood, with their first shot of the second period, who would break the deadlock through Garner, who beat Fisher with a curling effort from the edge of the area. 1-0.
Sam Finley almost doubled the hosts’ lead within two minutes of the re-start but his volleyed attempt was always rising. Lewington and Grigg then went close to combining but the former’s cross was just out of the latter’s reach.
Jordan Houghton and Charlie Brown came off the bench with 22 minutes left to play, shortly before Thompson prevented Fleetwood from adding a second with a last-ditch sliding block to deny Garner.
The Dons then went close with a move down the left – Jules delivered the cross but neither Grigg nor Sorensen were able to connect at the far post.
Martin’s men, though, would get back on level terms with seven minutes to play. Fraser created the chance by finding Sorinola in the area and although his shot was saved, the rebound fell kindly for Brown, who slotted home the loose ball. 1-1.
The Dons’ tails were up and Sorinola tried his luck at making it two with a fierce low drive that was blocked by a sliding Fleetwood defender.
Bird was brought on as Martin made one final throw of the dice. He went down in the area under a challenge from Cairns but referee Stephen Martin adjudged the Fleetwood goalkeeper to have got a touch to the ball just before.
The Dons had most of the ball in the four minutes that were added but weren’t able to fashion a chance to win it late. The spoils, in the end, shared.
MK Dons: Fisher, Lewington, Jules, McEachran (Brown 68), Darling, Kasumu (Thompson 46), Grigg (Bird 84), Fraser, Surman (Houghton 68), O’Riley (Sorensen 36), Sorinola.
Subs: Nicholls, Laird.
Goal: Brown (83)
Booked: Kasumu, Sorinola, Lewington
Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Andrew, Connolly, Burns, Rossiter, McKay (Whelan 87), Donacien, Finley (Morris 87), Biggins, Garner (Vassell 87), Hill.
Subs: Coleman, Sheron, Baggley, Feeney.
Referee: S Martin