MK Dons put an end to their run of defeats by taking a point from their Sky Bet League One clash with Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena.
Dan Micciche’s men had chances to leave victorious but were denied by Josh Lillis and a stubborn Dale defence.
At the other end, the Dons did well to keep their confident opponents at bay and close the gap on 20th-placed Fleetwood Town to five points ahead of their meeting with the Cod Army this weekend.
Boss Micciche made two changes to the side who were beaten 2-1 by Charlton Athletic last weekend. In came Scott Wootton and Aidan Nesbitt, replacing Callum Brittain and Robbie Muirhead. There was also a place on the bench for young professional David Kasumu, who took the place of the suspended Ed Upson - one of nine first-team players sidelined for the Dons.
Rochdale produced the game’s first attack 90 seconds in and it resulted in a Mark Kitching shot which landed well wide of Lee Nicholls’ left-hand upright.
The Dons responded through Kieran Agard who, after collecting a pass from Ousseynou Cisse, dragged an attempt off target from 20-yards out.
Hearts were in mouths on nine minutes when Matt Done sent in a cross from the left. Wootton got to the ball first at the near post but he inadvertently directed the delivery onto his own crossbar - fortunately for him and the Dons, the ball then fell to Josh Tymon who has able to clear.
Done followed up with a curling shot from the edge of the D which Nicholls watched wide. A great chance then fell the way of Andrew Cannon but he could only strike the crossbar when well placed deep inside the area.
On the quarter hour mark, Cisse hit a left-footed volley wide of the right post from Tymon’s headed lay-off. A great bit of skill from Ugbo saw him create an opportunity just a few moments later but his effort on goal was blocked.
Those two chances led to a decent Dons spell. They spent the majority of the next five minutes inside the Rochdale half but weren’t able to truly threaten Josh Lillis in the Dale goal.
Dale came back and Joseph Rafferty caused problems with a low ball across the six-yard box which, thankfully, went untouched.
The Dons’ best chance of the half arrived on 34 minutes when a good attacking move led to Nesbitt back-heeling a pass into the path of Agard inside the area. The striker took a touch and sent in a low shot which was saved by Lillis.
Another opportunity arrived within a minute as Ugbo turned in the box. The loanee, though, went for power over placement and his right-footed strike flew over the crossbar.
Cannon produced a save out Nicholls in the 37th minute before a Lewington block prevented Stephen Humphrys’ attempt from troubling the Dons’ goal.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, Elliott Ward headed wide from a Nesbitt free-kick. Rochdale then went close through Cannon, who forced a diving save from Nicholls.
Nesbitt shot wide at the start of the second half after Williams headed Cisse’s lofted pass into the winger’s path. Williams then went close himself, lifting an effort over the crossbar following a one-two with Ugbo.
On 64 minutes, Ian Henderson headed an inch or two wide of the left post from Kitching’s cross. Before the re-start, Micciche introduced Robbie Muirhead from the bench, in place of Nesbitt.
Brittain then entered the contest with a quarter of an hour remaining. Within seconds of his arrival, a piercing run through the middle saw him earn the Dons a corner, from which Agard had a close-range shot blocked.
A long-range drive from Cannon produced a save out of Nicholls on 80 minutes. At the other end, from a Muirhead corner, Williams had a goal-bound header blocked.
In the closing stages, Muirhead fired off target from the edge of the area - that was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock, meaning a share of the spoils in Greater Manchester.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Wootton, Ward, Lewington (c); Williams, McGrandles (Brittain 74), Cisse, Tymon; Nesbitt (Muirhead 64); Agard, Ugbo.
Unused subs: Sietsma, Jackson, Kasumu, Rasulo, Thomas-Asante.
Booked: McGrandles, Ward
Attendance: 2,273 (80 away)
Referee: R Joyce