MK Dons shared the spoils with Bolton Wanderers in their Sky Bet League One opener after a thrilling 3-3 draw at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Mo Eisa put the Dons ahead midway through the first half but Bolton came from behind to lead 2-1 with goals either side of half-time from Josh Sheehan and Amadou Bakayoko.
Scott Twine levelled the scores with a stunning free-kick five minutes later, before substitute Hiram Boateng looked to have won it late on with an 86th-minute strike.
However, it wasn’t to be a fairy tale finish for the midfielder as Alex Baptiste would find the net deep into stoppage time to send both sides home with a point.
MK Dons made four changes from their Carabao Cup tie against AFC Bournemouth with Laurie Walker, Zak Jules, Ethan Robson and Troy Parrott all coming in - the latter two making their first starts for the Club.
The Dons started well and created an opening inside the opening two minutes but Tennai Watson, who saw his initial cross blocked, fired over with his effort on rebound.
Watson was involved again in the fifth minute as he delivered a ball for Mo Eisa which was just out of the striker’s reach.
The goal-mouth action ceased thereafter, as both teams looked to settle into the contest – that was until the 23rd minute then Eisa put MK Dons ahead.
After some good pressing in the final third, Matt O’Riley won possession off Gethin Jones and that allowed Eisa the freedom to move into the penalty area. Despite the seemingly impossible angle, the summer signing tried his luck and got his precision spot on as he fired home his first goal for the Club. 0-1.
Eisa was involved three minutes later as the Dons went agonisingly close to doubling their lead. The number 10, this time, opted to square a ball across to Troy Parrott after breaking into the area, and despite the Irishman beating Matt Gilks, his goal-bound effort was blocked by a Bolton defender.
That missed chance proved crucial as, shortly after, Bolton levelled the scores courtesy of an excellent free-kick from Sheehan, five yards back from the edge of D. 1-1.
There was a moment of controversy just past the half-hour when MJ Williams escaped a red card despite a reckless lunge on Jules.
Five minutes later, O’Riley went for a goal after a well-worked move down the right but saw his effort blocked. The Dons recycled possession and Eisa went close with a curling strike that bent just past the post.
Bolton had an opportunity late in the first half through Antoni Sarcevic, who dragged his shot wide from inside the penalty area. Twine also had one for the visitors but he miss-hit his attempt from Eisa’s cutback.
It was the home side who registered the first shot of the second half – Eoin Doyle with a right-footed attempt which flew harmlessly wide of the right post.
It was end-to-end after that, with Watson getting to the byline and having a cross claimed by Gilks moments before Darling got himself in the way of a fierce Sarcevic strike. Just past the hour, Walker saved from Dapo Afolayan after Bolton had halted a dangerous-looking Dons break.
On 65 minutes, Doyle lifted a shot over when well-placed in the box. A minute later, though, the home side did find the net – Bakayoko firing past Walker at the far post. 2-1.
The Dons, who made their first substitution before the re-start as Aden Baldwin replaced Watson, responded well to the setback and were back level within five minutes courtesy of a stunning free-kick from Twine.
It was the number 9 who won the foul on the edge of the D and, in similar fashion to Sheehan earlier in the match, found the net with an excellent right-footed strike. 2-2.
Bolton had an immediate chance to restore their lead but Bakayoko couldn’t link up with the on-rushing Sheehan. At the other end, Robson sent an 18-yard shot over the bar following a half-cleared corner.
Hiram Boateng was brought on with just over 10 minutes to play. Shortly after his introduction, Bolton went close through a sub of their own, Lloyd Isgrove, but he was denied by Walker, diving to his right.
Boateng would get the better of his fellow substitute with 86 minutes on the clock as the midfielder marked his return to the side with a goal from Harvie’s cross. 2-3.
It wasn’t to be a fairy-tale moment, however, as five minutes into stoppage time Alex Baptiste slotted home a late equaliser for the hosts. A heart-breaking finish but heart certainly shown by the Dons, following a difficult seven days off the pitch. 3-3.
MK Dons: Walker, Watson (Baldwin 68), Jules, O’Hora, Darling, O’Riley, Twine, Eisa, Robson, Parrott (Boateng 80), Harvie.
Subs: Ravizzoli, Brown, Freeman, Bird, Ilunga.
Goals: Eisa (23), Twine (72), Boateng (84)
Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Jones, John, Williams, Sheehan (Lee 85), Doyle (Isgrove 72), Sarcevic, Bakayoko, Afolayan (Kachunga 86), Baptiste.
Subs: Dixon, Santos, Delfouneso, Thomason.
Goals: Sheehan (29), Bakayoko (67), Baptiste (90+5)
Referee: M Coy
Attendance: 16,087 (399 away)