Report: Dons 1-1 Middlesbrough
Dean Bowditch scored a fine goal early on which had Karl Robinson’s side set for the win but Jordan Rhodes struck in injury-time to prevent the men from MK1 earning a memorable victory.
However, a hugely-spirited performance and the point moves the Dons up to 20th, three points clear off the bottom three.
Alex Revell made his Dons debut in attack while Jay Emmanuel-Thomas started his first game for Karl Robinson’s side. Darren Potter and Nicky Maynard were rested while Antony Kay (ill), Carl Baker (ankle), Ben Reeves (thigh) and Matt Upson (hamstring) remain sidelined.
Both sides threatened in the early exchanges with Gaston Ramirez and Josh Murphy firing off target for Boro and the Dons respectively.
The men from MK1 made their next attack count as they went ahead on nine minutes through Dean Bowditch, the Dons’ No.9 latching on to a superb through-ball from Kyle McFadzean and firing under Dimi Konstantopoulos.
Robinson’s men continued to impress, defending resolutely and dealing with Boro’s attacking threat which included the likes of former England international Stewart Downing.
George Baldock, playing his first Sky Bet Championship game at stadiummk, and Joe Walsh made important clearances as the game ticked past the half-hour mark.
Downing curled one not too far over the top with five minutes to go before the break, but that proved to be the last real action of the half as the Dons went in ahead.
The Dons started the second half well and forced a couple of corners, but they were lucky to be level on 50 minutes when David Nugent somehow managed to miss the target from 10 yards.
Kyle McFadzean then produced a superb goal-line block to keep the Dons in front while, at the other end, Revell couldn’t quite reach Bowditch’s teasing cross.
After soaking up some pressure, the Dons almost went 2-0 up through Emmanuel-Thomas but he was denied as he lined up a shot from Josh Murphy’s pass.
Murphy himself then shot just off target as the men from MK1, backed by a vocal home support, continued to more than match their very strong opponents.
The Dons’ phenomenal work-rate was for all to see as they frustrated Boro, who didn’t really threaten again until 80 minutes when David Martin got down well to save Grant Leadbitter’s header.
Boro got lucky on 83 minutes as Murphy’s dangerous delivery fell to visiting player, this coming before substitute Maynard almost got on the end of another cross from the Norwich City loanee.
Revell, like Emmanuel-Thomas and Bowditch, left the field to a standing ovation from the home supporters with just over five minutes remaining and the Dons still leading.
That advantage was almost doubled but Konstantopoulos did brilliantly to tip over Maynard effort from the edge of the area after he had turned his man.
However, Dons were denied three points at the death when £9m striker Jordan Rhodes headed home a hopeful ball forward.
Hard to take, especially with Boro scoring so late, but a superb performance against the promotion favourites.
Starting XI: Martin; Baldock, McFadzean, Walsh, Lewington (c); Carruthers, Forster-Caskey; Bowditch (Maynard 69), Emmanuel-Thomas (Potter 61), Murphy; Revell (Spence 85).
Unused subs: Cropper, Spence, Powell, Williams, Hall.
Goals: Bowditch (9).
Attendance: 11,256 (2,304 Boro fans).