Carlton Morris scored on his debut to earn MK Dons a point at promotion-chasing Coventry City.
Russell Martin’s men found themselves behind after just 51 seconds, courtesy of Sam McCallum’s half-volley, but earned a share of the spoils late on through Morris, who fired home a loose ball in front of the 897 travelling supporters.
The result sees the Dons move up one place in the Sky Bet League One table and maintain their three-point gap above the bottom three.
Boss Martin made one change from the side which beat Bristol Rovers on New Year’s Day, with Joe Mason replacing Sam Nombe up top. Morris and Ben Gladwin, signed in the week, were amongst the substitutes along with Jordan Moore-Taylor following his recovery from a knee problem.
His side, though, made the worst possible start as Coventry broke the deadlock inside the opening 51 seconds. A loose Dons pass out from defence fell kindly to Sam McCallum, who sent a ferocious half-volley past the outstretched arm of Lee Nicholls and into the bottom corner. 1-0.
The Dons almost produced an instant response but Marko Marosi, after being dragged out of his goal, managed to recover and block Alex Gilbey’s ball into the area.
Coventry had an opportunity to double their lead on 11 minutes, after a loose pass from David Kasumu led to a free-kick, five yards outside the edge of the area. Kasumu made amends, however, blocking Jordan Shipley’s effort from the set piece.
There was little in the way of action again until the half-hour mark when Nicholls got across to fingertip away a neat 18-yard strike from Shipley, which looked bound for the bottom corner of his net.
The Dons number one was called into action again, two minutes before half-time, to deny Shipley, who fired over from the resulting corner.
Martin’s men pushed late to reduce the arrears before half-time but weren’t able to test Marko Marosi in the Sky Blyes goal. In a bid to do so in the second period, Martin made a switch at the break, introducing Morris for his MK Dons debut in place of Kasumu.
Morris was involved early, and almost latched onto a Houghton through pass on 48 minutes – the midfielder’s ball, however, skid through to the goalkeeper.
His strike partner, Rhys Healey, then went agonisingly close with a left-footed try which flew just past the post. The in-form forward manoeuvred his way past three City defenders before trying his luck.
Healey threatened again with an effort that was blocked. The ball looped dangerously into the box but Mason, lurking, wasn’t able to pounce and Marosi came away with the ball.
At the other end, Coventry came close to a second through Matt Godden, who was a yard away from connecting with Fantaky Dabo’s low cross at the far post. Liam Walsh then blazed over from a free-kick, conceded right on the edge of the D.
On 62 minutes, Martin brought Sam Nombe off the bench with his second substitution of the game. He replaced Joe Mason up front.
Nombe and Morris were involved in a move down the left shortly after the former’s arrival and it resulted in McGrandles flicking a ball into the path of Brittain, who was just beaten to it by an alert Marosi.
Nicholls had to be on his toes moments later to keep out Godden, producing an excellent one-on-one stop to prevent the lead from being doubled. He replicated that save just 60 seconds later, this time to deny Max Biamou.
The Dons responded with Gilbey drilling in a low left-footed shot that was saved by Marosi. The Sky Bet League One Player of the Month almost produced a moment of magic minutes later, but after a stunning run into the area, he fired just wide from a tight angle.
That was Gilbey’s involvement, as he was forced off and replaced by Ben Gladwin – on for his MK Dons debut.
Before the number 8 could reach the dressing, though, he turned around to see his side draw level – and it was one of the debutants who got the equaliser.
Morris started the move with a driving run forward down the right, before playing in Nombe, who had made a run outside of him. Nombe fired in a low cross which was cleared only as far as Morris, who brought the ball under control before lashing home a debut goal. 1-1.
That set up a frantic final quarter of an hour, which saw both sides have opportunities to grab all three points. There were corners, free-kicks and efforts right up until the final moments, but neither outfit could muster a clear-cut chance to find the net.
A point it was, therefore, for Martin and his men to take back to Milton Keynes. They are back on the road this Tuesday evening, for a tough Sky Bet League One clash with Burton Albion.
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Lewington (c), Walsh, Gilbey (Gladwin 73), Healey, McGrandles, Mason (Nombe 62), Houghton, Brittain, Kasumu (Morris 46).
Subs: Moore, Poole, Reeves, Moore-Taylor.
Goal: Morris (76)
Coventry City: Marosi, Rose, McFadzean, Kelly (c), Hyam, Walsh, Dabo, Godden, Westbrooke (O’Hare 60), Shipley (Biamou 61), McCallum.
Subs: Wilson, Mason, Allen, Bakayoko, Drysdale.
Goal: McCallum (1)
Referee: C Boyeson
Attendance: 6,666 (897 away)