Report: MK Dons 2-2 Rochdale
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had made it 2-1 with against the run of play with five minutes remaining but the men from MK1 didn’t give up and shared the spoils.
Steven Davies had initially opened the scoring before Kieran Agard had levelled matters with his 13th goal of the season, at which point the Dons were looking the more likely to go on and win it.
Ben Tilney, Stuart O’Keefe, Robbie Muirhead and Nicky Maynard all returned to the starting XI for the visit of Keith Hill’s side.
The opening opportunity of the game saw Maynard almost be picked out with a through-ball while, at the other end, Steven Davies forced David Martin into a save from a 25-yard free-kick.
That was followed by a reasonable spell of pressure from the visitors, who took the lead on 16 minutes when Davies headed home at the second attempt after his first effort had come back off the post.
The men from MK1 responded with a shot from Ben Reeves which was deflected over for a corner, but they were perhaps fortunate not to be 2-0 down shortly afterwards as Davies headed wide at the back post.
A superb pass created a crossing opportunity for the lively Harvey Barnes, who delivered after a nice first touch but it was cleared away from inside the six-yard box in front of the lurking Maynard.
More good play from Barnes saw him get away from Calvin Andrew but, once again, his cross was well cleared by the Dale defence, who were being asked more questions.
Shortly afterwards, Barnes was nearly found courtesy of an incisive pass from Reeves before, at the other end, substitute Joe Thompson somehow lifted a cross over the bar from close range as the Dale threatened a second.
Mendez-Laing then forced Martin into a save after a smart step-over inside the Dons’ box prior to Neilson’s side hitting back through a shot from Ed Upson, which was well blocked.
Barnes went very close to levelling matters on 43 minutes and it would have been a superb solo effort – the Leicester City loanee picked the ball up 40 yards from goal, beat his man and drove at the Dale defence before sending his effort just past the far post.
The first real action of the second half saw Muirhead curl an effort wide from the edge of the area while, at the other end, Andrew’s free-kick went narrowly over the top.
With 10 minutes gone in the second half, Muirhead picked out Barnes but the latter’s volley was blocked before Reeves sent a free-kick over the top after some nice play from the Dons’ No.10.
The Dons were level on 71 minutes when Tilney delivered a dangerous cross and substitute Agard was on hand to finish from close range – his 13th goal of the season.
Fellow substitute Maecky Ngombo latched on to a ball with 10 minutes to go but couldn’t test the keeper under pressure from his marker.
Joe Walsh headed on to the roof of the net as the Dons went close to taking the lead but they fell behind with just over five minutes remaining when Mendez-Laing broke away down the right and fired into the opposite corner.
That didn’t deter the Dons, who kept going and earned a point in injury-time when Reeves turned his man and fired into the opposite corner.
Starting XI: Martin; Williams (c), Downing, Walsh, Tilney; Barnes, O’Keefe, Upson, Reeves; Maynard (Ngombo 60), Muirhead (Agard 60).
Unused subs: Nicholls, Brittain, Powell, Bowditch.
Goals: Agard (71), Reeves (90+1)
Attendance: 10,569 (329 Dale fans).