Northampton Town scored two goals in the final 12 minutes of tto deny MK Dons a victory in their final game of 2018.
Paul Tisdale’s men looked on course for all three points at the PTS Academy Stadium after goals from Alex Gilbey and Chuks Aneke had them two to the good heading into the final moments.
However, late finishes from Andy Williams and Junior Morais - the latter coming in stoppage time - ensured the spoils were shared.
The point meant MK Dons ended the calendar year second in the Sky Bet League Two table.
Boss Tisdale made two changes to the side which fell to defeat at Cheltenham Town on Boxing Day. He handed Mathieu Baudry his first league start in place of Ousseynou Cisse and re-introduced Rhys Healey to the starting XI, with Lawson D’Ath making way.
There was also a place on the bench for Jordan Moore-Taylor, who had missed the last month of action with an injury.
MK Dons worked their way into the Northampton Town penalty area inside the opening three minutes. After a neat attacking move started by Baudry, Aneke lifted a ball into the box for Kieran Agard but a sweeping Ash Taylor was able to clear.
From the resulting throw-in, a ball fell to Gilbey on the edge of the area but he was closed down before he could get a shot away.
At the other end, Baudry was involved early on his first league start for the Club. First, he made a crucial interception to prevent a Billy Waters through pass from finding a team-mate. Then he got in the way of an effort from Kevin van Veen, which looked to be heading for goal.
The best chance of the opening exchanges came on six minutes when Baily Cargill created space on the edge of the D and flashed a left-footed shot just wide of David Cornell’s right-hand upright.
On the quarter-hour mark, the Dons had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Graham Scott after Gilbey was upended in the area following a driving run down the left.
Two minutes later, though, Scott did point to the spot - this time for a clear pull on Aneke’s shirt as the MK Dons number 10 looked to collect a cross in from the right.
Aneke stepped up to take the spot kick and saw his effort saved but Gilbey reacted quickest to pounce on the rebound and slot home his third goal of the season. 0-1.
Tisdale’s Dons had another shout at a penalty in the 23rd minute but Scott was unmoved after Healey went down under pressure from Shaun Facey.
Northampton then went in search of a response but Waters’ effort was never troubled Nicholls. His quick re-start then led to a chance for Agard, whose low effort beat Cornell but was blocked on its way to goal by a Cobblers defender.
On the half-hour, Aneke, who was causing the Northampton defence all sorts of problems, headed into the side netting from a Williams cross. At the other end, Jordan Turnbull fired an effort well wide from the edge of the D.
Baudry was at it again, defensively, with four minutes remaining in the half, dealing with a loose ball which looked set to be sent goal-wards by a Northampton man. Rhys Healey had an opportunity not long after that, but couldn’t control his volley.
A chance then fell the way of Gilbey, who brought down a Lewington cross on his chest and looked to fire in a shot only to be dispossessed at the crucial moment.
Northampton, though, went closest to scoring before the break - Ash Taylor heading just over from a late Walters free-kick.
MK Dons were put under pressure at the start of the second period and spent the majority of the opening 10 minutes camped inside their own half. They almost conceded in the third of those minutes but a well-placed van Veen blazed over following a scramble inside the penalty area.
The Dons slowly worked their way into the half and Lewington went close just before the hour with a left-footed shot which we put wide, following a low cross from Aneke. The MK Dons striker then had a chance of his own, following a forceful run into the box, but he couldn’t keep his strike down.
Tisdale’s men were almost gifted a second goal in the 61st minute when Agard intercepted a poorly-placed backpass. Agard still had work to do and couldn’t beat Cornell with his shot on the turn.
Moments later, Cornell produced a stunning save to deny McGrandles, who had played a one-two with Aneke on the edge of the area. The Scotsman’s effort was low and on target but the right boot of Cornell kept it from finding the net.
MK Dons were intent on getting a second goal rather than settling for a 1-0 win and they found that extension to their lead with 69 minutes on the clock.
It was a well-worked goal from Tisdale’s men - a move that involved Williams, McGrandles, Agard and finally Aneke, who collected the pass from his strike partner Agard deep inside the box, rolled his man and sent a low shot underneath Cornell. 0-2.
MK Dons still had work to do and within three minutes of extending their advantage, Williams was forced to block a goal-bound strike from former Don Daniel Powell. Moments later, fellow substitute Morais saw a deflected attempt saved by Nicholls.
With 12 minutes to go, Northampton pulled a goal back courtesy of Andy Williams, who powered a header into the near post direct from a corner. 1-2.
Crooks almost drew them leve a minute after the re-start but Nicholls was able to watch the midfielder's long-range attempt fly over the crossbar.
Tisdale brought on Moore-Taylor with eight minutes left to play while he also introduced D’Ath in place of McGrandles, who had run his socks off fore the Dons on the right-hand side all afternoon.
With 30 seconds remaining in regulation time, Turnbull sent a curling shot over the bar from the edge of the area. Healey then went close to winning it for the Dons but his shot was saved by Cornell.
The Cobblers goalkeeper released the ball immediately and his long ball forward was met by Morais, who did well to a lob over the on-rushing Nicholls to grab a late equaliser for the home side. 2-2.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams, Baudry, Cargill; McGrandles (D’Ath 88), Gilbey, Houghton, Lewington (c); Healey, Aneke (Simpson 74), Agard (Moore-Taylor 82).
Unused subs: Moore, Watson, Pawlett, Hancox.
Goals: Gilbey (18), Aneke (69)
Booked: McGrandles, Lewington, Williams
Referee: G Scott
Attendance: 6,963 (1,449 away)