MK Dons rallied late against Grimsby Town but weren’t able to secure a come-from-behind win and instead settled for a 1-1 draw at Stadium MK.
The Mariners took the lead in the first half through Jordan Cook’s 34th-minute goal but Paul Tisdale’s men responded in the opening minute of the second half through substitute Robbie Simpson.
Grimsby were reduced to 10 men late in the game which allowed MK Dons to press forward in numbers but they weren’t able to take advantage and therefore had to make do with a point - one which extends their unbeaten start to the season.
Tisdale named an unchanged stating XI for the first time this season, making only one enforced change to his matchday squad - David Kasumu replacing the suspended Mathieu Baudry, following his red card against Crewe Alexandra.
Lee Nicholls was forced into an early save by JJ Hooper, who found an inch of space 20-yards from goal and sent a low drive towards the near post which the MK Dons goalkeeper palmed wide.
Grimsby maintained their dominant start and on 10 minutes, Cook got behind the MK Dons backline but both Joe Walsh and Dean Lewington raced back in time to deal with the Mariners forward.
MK Dons had their first sighter on goal soon after, with Alex Gilbey meeting a Ryan Watson cross from the left but heading wide. Gilbey threatened again on 13 minutes, collecting a pass from Jordan Houghton and driving to the edge of the D before fizzing a right-footed shot wide of the target.
Grimsby responded from a free-kick which was cleared only as far as Martyn Woolford, who saw his left-footed strike blocked on its way to goal by Watson.
The MK Dons defence got in the way of another Mariners attempt on 17 minutes and that led to a counter attack, started by Ousseynou Cisse, which resulted in a Watson drive which was sent wide of the left upright.
Gilbey fired over moments later as Tisdale’s side continued to trouble the visitors goal. Grimsby then offered a reminder of their threat from a clever corner routine which was eventually blocked dealt with deep inside the six-yard box.
Nicholls was called into action again in the 23rd minute to keep out Cook’s on-target strike before Callum Brittain’s deflected effort had Stadium MK on its feet, only for the home support to see the ball land behind the goal rather than in the net.
On the half-hour mark, Gilbey watched another one of his fierce shots fly agonisingly wide of goal - this one from inside the area after cutting in from the left.
It was Grimsby, though, who broke the deadlock with 10 minutes remaining in the half as Woolford broke free down the right and forced a diving stop out Nicholls. The loose ball from the parried save fell kindly to Cook, who fired in the rebound to give the visitors the lead. 0-1.
MK Dons almost levelled things up before the break but Brittain’s deflected shot was clawed away from goal by a diving James McKeown.
They weren’t able to find a first-half equaliser, however, and that led to a double-change at the break - Simpson and Baily Cargill coming on in place of Alex Gilbey and Ryan Watson.
The former made an instant impact, drawing MK Dons level with his first touch of the ball - a close-range header from Williams’ inch-perfect cross. 1-1.
Simpson almost scored again in the 49th-minute but was denied by an excellent diving save from McKeown, after racing onto Cisse’s through pass.
The striker was making a real difference and his teasing cross in the 50th minute almost provided Cisse with a chance at goal but the ball was well dealt with by a Grimsby defender.
Cisse did have an opportunity moments later after being picked out on the edge of the box by Brittain. The Malian opted for a first-time shot from the low cross but saw his attempt deflected over the crossbar.
MK Dons maintained their excellent start to the half and shortly after the hour-mark, Agard flashed a left-footed drive just over the bar from 20-yards out.
Mariners substitute Charles Vernam provided Nicholls with a rare second-half scare in the 78th minute, dragging a low right-footed shot wide from just inside the penalty area. That was followed up by a Jake Hessenthaler drive which also missed the target.
Tisdale’s side responded with Simpson heading wide from a Cargill cross, as they searched for a dramatic late comeback goal. Their pursuit of that winning goal was made all the more easier with eight minutes remaining as Grimsby defender Paul Dixon was shown a starchy red card for a late and dangerous tackle on Moore-Taylor.
MK Dons pushed forward in numbers whenever they got the opportunity, firing balls into the area from both flanks.
Cisse powered a header wide from a corner with under four minutes remaining. A later corner caused an almighty scramble in the six-yard box but despite several efforts on goal, MK Dons weren’t able to force it home.
That was the closest they came to securing a dramatic late winner. They will take their point and look to build on it at the weekend when they take on Exeter City at Stadium MK.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Brittain, Williams, Moore-Taylor, Walsh, Lewington (c); Houghton; Gilbey (Cargill 46), Watson (Simpson 46); Cisse; Agard.
Unused subs: Moore, Hancox, Kasumu, D’Ath, Asonganyi.
Goal: Simpson (46)
Attendance: 6,800 (610 away)
Match Sponsor’s Man of the Match, chosen by Aqua Parcs: Ousseynou Cisse
Referee: P Wright