MK Dons were force to settle for point at home to Forest Green Rovers after Reuben Reid’s late penalty cancelled out Chuks Aneke’s opener.
Aneke pounced on a goalkeeping error from Robert Sanchez to put his side ahead on the half-hour mark but Rovers striker Reid recused a point for his team with 10 minutes remaining.
Manager Tisdale made one change to the side which drew 1-1 away at Swindon Town with Chuks Aneke, who netted twice in the Checkatrade Trophy tie with Peterborough United, handed his first league start of the season in place of Robbie Simpson. Simpson dropped to the bench where he was alongside Osman Sow, back in the squad after missing that tie with Posh.
Aneke was involved early, linking up play midway inside the Forest Green half. He played a first-time ball through for Callum Brittain but the covering defender got to the ball first and dealt with the threat.
Forest Green then came forward with Carl Winchester seeing a shot deflected wide by Jordan Moore-Taylor on four minutes.
The visitors occupied the ball for the majority of the opening 10 minutes and they had another attempt blocked with 12 on the clock - Dayle Grubb’s right-footed shot denied by Joe Walsh.
They eventually tested Nicholls in the 14th minute but the MK Dons goalkeeper was equal to Reuben Reid’s header, diving down to his right to gather the effort.
MK Dons responded through Kieran Agard who, after latching onto Moore-Taylor’s pass, sent a low drive towards goal which was blocked by a defender.
Nicholls was then called into action again - this time to keep out Wincher’s shot from distance. Moments later, he watched on as Liam Shephard’s cross-turned-shot landed on his crossbar before bouncing out for a goal kick.
Forest Green had another on-target attempt blocked as they maintained their dominant start at Stadium MK. Soon after, a long ball forward almost caught Nicholls out but the MK Dons number 1 managed to get back in time to gather the bouncing ball.
Despite spending the first 24 minutes on the back foot, Tisdale’s side did go agonisingly close to taking the lead when Aneke met a corner from Dean Lewington, only to send his first-time effort wide from close-range.
Just prior to the half-hour mark, Joseph Mills forced Nicholls into another save - a simple one for the keeper, who comfortably gathered a rather tame header. Nicholls produced again a minute later, diving to his right to stop Winchester’s shot.
The Dons wouldn’t have been too happy with their display in the opening half an hour but their mood quickly turned to ecstasy when Aneke put them ahead.
Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez failed to deal with George Williams’ cross and the ball fell to Aneke. He then showed great composure to create space for a clear shot and then calmly slot home into an empty net. 1-0.
Aneke had a great chance to make it two-nil on 40 minutes as he raced clean through on goal. The striker carried the ball into the area before trying to cut back onto his right foot, only for Nathan McGinley to make a goal-saving tackle for Forest Green.
The visitors did go close to equalising in the 43rd minute through Grubb, who found himself free inside the MK Dons area only to fire over the crossbar from 10-yards.
Tisdale’s men kept hold of their lead through to half-time and almost extended it early in the second half when Williams got free down the right. He delivered a low ball for Agard, who couldn’t connect. MK Dons maintained the pressure but couldn’t make it count.
Forest Green almost made them pay in the 49th minute but Lloyd James’ rising attempt was saved by Nicholls. Substitute Tahvon Campbell also saw a shot clear the crossbar for the visitors, who pressed as the game entered the final half an hour.
In the 63rd minutes Nicholls was equal to a deflected attempt from Paul Digby. Some brilliant defending from Williams then prevented Campbell from testing Nicholls after driving into the penalty area.
Tisdale made his first substitution on 67 minutes, introducing August’s Player of the Month Ousseynou Cisse in place of Baily Cargill. The switch saw Moore-Taylor drop into defence, with Cisse taking his spot in the middle of the park.
On 72 minutes, Nicholls kept out Mills’ drive before Campbell was denied on the rebound by a spectacular sliding block from Walsh.
MK Dons countered and had Cisse been a step further ahead he might have been able to tap in from Brittain’s inviting low cross which, in the end, travelled out for goal kick.
Tisdale’s second switch saw Ryan Watson come on to replace Brittain but three minutes later, his side handed a chance for Forest Green to draw level from penalty spot - Moore-Taylor bringing former Dons man George Williams inside the area. Reuben Reid stepped up and fired home the equaliser. 1-1.
The visitors then went close to a second almost immediately but Walsh’s deflection at the near post was kept out by Nicholls. Tisdale then brought on Simpson and he was almost handed an instant chance to score by Agard but the low cross was intercepted. From the resulting corner, Simpson sent an acrobatic overhead kick just over the crossbar.
Both teams huffed and puffed in the closing stages in an attempt to win the game - MK Dons going closest in stoppage time through Agard, whose goal-bound volley was brilliantly blocked by Mills.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams, Walsh, Cargill (Cisse 67); Brittain (Watson 75), Gilbey, Moore-Taylor, Houghton, Lewington; Aneke (Simpson 82), Agard.
Unused subs: Moore, Sow, Hancox, Healey.
Goal: Aneke (30)
Attendance: 6,638 (263 away)
Referee: B Toner
Sponsor's Man of the Match, as chosen by Border Engineering: Lee Nicholls