Report: Dons 2-2 Rochdale
Will Grigg opened the scoring before an own goal from Tom Flanagan and a superb strike from Reuben Noble-Lazarus gave the visitors a 2-1 lead against the run of play.
However, Karl Robinson’s men kept the pressure on and got at least what they deserved late on when Danny Green fired home to move the Dons a point closer to the automatic promotion places.
Lee Hodson, Flanagan, Dean Bowditch and Grigg replaced Dean Lewington (hamstring), Kyle McFadzean (suspended), Daniel Powell and Benik Afobe in the starting XI.
However, it was Saturday’s match-winner, Carl Baker, who registered the first shot on target three minutes in, forcing Conrad Logan into a fine stop from a fiercely-struck drive.
Hodson, making his first start since 19th August, was involved in the Dons’ next move shortly afterwards, which resulted in Bowditch curling an effort past the right-hand post from 20 yards.
Flanagan headed wide a dangerous Darren Potter delivery on eight minutes as Karl Robinson’s carried the greater goal threat early on, although the visitors were looking lively themselves on the counter-attack.
Grigg, looking to add to his six goals for the season so far, was played in down the left by Ben Reeves as the quarter-hour mark approached but, after creating a shooting opportunity, he was thwarted by Logan at his near post.
He wasn’t to be denied on 19 minutes, though, as he latched on to Dele Alli’s through-ball and perfectly lofted the ball over Logan from 25 yards.
However, the visitors were back on level terms less than 60 seconds later when Flanagan turned Noble-Lazarus’ left-wing cross into his own net.
Potter was presented with an opportunity, albeit a difficult one, to regain the lead on 26 minutes but he couldn’t find the empty net from 45 yards following a poor Logan kick.
At the other end, the Dons rode their luck on the half-hour mark when Flanagan was forced to head over a teasing free-kick inside the six-yard box.
Baker, impressing once again on the right, came very close to his third goal in as many matches on 33 minutes when, after expertly controlling Jordan Spence’s driven cross, he fired just over the top from 15 yards.
Both teams enjoyed spells but neither really threatened further until Andrew Cannon flashed a 20-yard drive not too far past the post on the stroke of half-time.
The woodwork denied the Dons going in front two minutes into the second period when Reeves’ fierce shot from the edge of the box hit the underside of the bar and was cleared away to safety by Scott Tanser.
Rochdale, who were continuing to look dangerous on the break, threatened through Cannon, who fired wide from 20 yards on 52 minutes.
Logan ensured the visitors remained on level terms thanks to a fine finger-tip save to push Grigg’s powerful effort over the top.
Baker fired over from 15 yards before Antony Kay directed Reeves’ corner inches past the right-hand post as the Dons upped the ante as the midway point of the second half approached.
Afobe was introduced with just over 20 minutes remaining and he injected some life into the Dons’ showing, causing problems in the Dale box before Grigg saw a close-range effort smothered by Logan.
Completely against the run of play, Keith Hill’s men took the lead when Noble-Lazarus rifled a 25-yard drive past David Martin from 25 yards on 76 minutes.
Green replaced Hodson shortly afterwards as the Dons went three at the back to try and find a way back into the game, and the substitute came up trumps on 84 minutes when he turned home from a tight angle after Afobe’s initial shot had been well saved.
Green and co then purposefully went in search of a winner, and it was the midfielder’s cross which brought about the best chance in the 90th minute but Flanagan was unable to find the net at the back post.
Starting XI: Martin; Spence, Kay, Flanagan, Hodson (Green 79); Potter, Alli; Baker, Reeves (Afobe 67), Bowditch (Powell 60); Grigg .
Subs: McLoughlin, Randall, Green, Carruthers, Rasulo.
Goals: Grigg 19, Green 84
Attendance: 6,720 (200 away)