MK Dons came from behind twice to earn a share of the spoils at Glanford Park but it could have been more had it not been for a Man of the Match display from Scunthorpe United goalkeeper Matt Gilks.
Gilks pulled off a string of saves to deny the Dons an away victory after goals from Kieran Agard and Chuks Aneke cancelled out efforts from Hakeeb Adelakun and Kevin Van Veen.
Manager Robbie Neilson named an unchanged squad for the trip to Glanford Park, sticking with the same starting XI and substitutes that performed so well against Shrewsbury Town at Stadium MK.
His side made a strong start as they earned themselves a corner just a minute in after Chuks Aneke’s shot from Scott Golbourne’s cross was deflected wide. Peter Pawlett started the move and he was the man who received the corner - he fired a shot towards goal but it was blocked by a defender.
Kieran Agard also had a strike blocked in the opening minutes as the Dons continued to put their hosts under pressure early on. There was a decent penalty shout on Osman Sow too but referee Graham Salisbury was unmoved after the Dons striker went down under Cameron Burgess’ challenge.
Sow, in the starting XI despite missing training this week due to an illness, fired wide on the half-volley in the 11th minute. Aneke then shot wide of the target with an effort of his own from outside the area - the Dons maintaining their strong start to the match through the quarter-hour mark.
The Dons’ next chance arrived on 18 minutes through Agard, who produced a diving save out of Matt Gilks with a low, left-footed shot sent towards the far corner.
Neilson’s men were all over the Iron but they missed a glorious opportunity to take a deserved lead on 22 minutes when Sow was denied from close-range by Gilks. After an excellent attacking move, the striker collected the ball on the edge of the six-yard box but couldn’t find a way past the goalkeeper, who got touch on the effort to direct it wide.
Maybe ignited by Sow’s chance, Scunthorpe threatened the Dons’ goal for the first time on 25 minutes. Duane Holmes delivered in a cross from which some brilliantly defending by Walsh denied Kevin Van Veen a chance at a shot.
With their next chance, they took the lead. Holmes played an neat one-two with Van Veen before finding Hakeeb Adelakun, who slotted past Lee Nicholls from 10-yards out. 1-0.
A terrific diving save from Nicholls prevented Scunthorpe doubling their lead just two minutes after breaking the deadlock. Gilks then pulled off a similar stop soon after to keep out Aneke’s goalbound curler and prevent Neilson’s side levelling the scoreline.
Falling behind did little to affect the Dons’ confidence and they continued to push forward in search of a goal - a goal which arrived on 42 minutes following a terrific one-touch passing move which was finished off cooly by Agard. 1-1.
It was nothing less than the men from MK1 deserved but before they could even think about building on the goal they conceded again - albeit in controversial circumstances. Walsh looked for all the world to be clearing away the danger from Holmes’ parried shot but a clear nudge in the back went unnoticed by the referee. The loose ball then fell to Van Veen, who finished to restore his side’s advantage. 2-1.
Referee Salisbury had been in the thick of the action all afternoon and that continued into first-half stoppage time when he produced his red card to dismiss Iron midfielder Neal Bishop for an elbow on Aneke.
The decision provided the Dons with some optimism heading into the half-time break but they were dealt a blow just nine minutes into the second period when Scott Golbourne was forced off with an injury.
Neilson’s side saw a lot of the ball in the first 15 minutes of the second half but weren’t able to threaten Gilks’ goal. In attempt to change that, leading goalscorer Gboly Ariyibi was introduced off the bench in place of Sow.
From his cross on 63 minutes, Walsh forced a save out of Gilks at his near post. The result was a corner, from which Aneke saw an acrobatic effort saved by the Iron keeper.
The Dons came straight back on the attack and earned themselves a free-kick for a foul on Ariyibi - the winger appeared to be brought down a good few yards inside the area but after speaking to his linesman, Salisbury awarded a free-kick.
Neilson and his side weren’t happy with the decision but they weren’t complaining for long as Aneke climbed well from Upson’s cross to power a header across the line, despite Gilks’ best efforts to keep it out. 2-2.
Such was the frantic nature of the contest, the Iron went close to netting an immediate third goal but Tom Hopper header over from close-range after pouncing on Adelakun’s parried shot.
Upson then had a half-chance on 75 minutes - a volley from the edge of the area which he sliced wide of the right post.
With five minutes to play, the Dons threw men forward in search of a winning goal. First, Gilkes kept out Aneke’s low drive before a stunning block prevented Agard finding the net from close range.
Aneke then headed wide from Upson’s cross and volleyed just off target from Williams’ delivery in the space of just two minutes.
Neilson’s men spent the final moments of the game camped inside the Iron half and two minutes into stoppage-time, Walsh saw a header deflected just over the crossbar.
The Dons were able to muster one final opportunity - an Ariyibi effort which was palmed wide by Gilks - but they weren’t able to claim the points.
Instead, they walked away with a share of the spoils in a game during which they were forced to fightback twice.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams (c), Ebanks-Landell, Walsh, Golbourne (Wootton 55); McGrandles, Upson; Agard, Aneke, Pawlett; Sow (Ariyibi 60).
Unused subs: Sietsma, Nesbitt, Thomas-Asante, Nombe, Seager.
Goal: Agard (42), Aneke (66)
Booked: Ebanks-Landell, Williams, Upson