MK Dons missed out on the opportunity to go top of the league on Tuesday night as they came from a goal behind to rescue a point away at Scunthorpe, drawing 1-1.
Dele Alli’s header off the post was the highlight of first half that lacked a spark, but was one that Dons comfortably dominated.
But the spark came 12 minutes into the second period when Tom Hopper pounced on a defensive error to fire the home side ahead.
Paddy Madden could have made it 2-0 shortly afterwards, requiring a top save from David Martin to keep him out.
Kyle McFadzean headed in Carl Baker’s cross with 13 minutes to go to restore Dons’ chances of snatching top spot, but it wasn’t to be.
After impressing on his two substitute appearances, Jonson Clarke-Harris was handed his first start in an MK Dons shirt. Will Grigg started in behind the on-loan Rotherham man, while Danny Green made just his second start since August, replacing Daniel Powell in the starting line-up. Dean Bowditch also dropped to the bench.
With what was at stake ringing in their ears, Dons approached the game patiently, not trying too hard to force things. Well in control in defence, there were few chances at either end for a little over 20 minutes before Clarke-Harris stung the palms of Luke Daniels with a low drive.
As their dominance in midfield began to shine through, Dons began to force the issue. Coming in from wide, Green worked himself into some good positions, but scuffed a shot and had a header deflected just out of his path.
Dons then rattled the frame of the goal when that man Green again picked out Dele Alli in the centre, but with all the time in the world, headed against the upright.
With the status quo remaining for 10 minutes into the second half, Devante Cole was thrown into the mix, replacing the busy, but ineffective Clarke-Harris.
There was almost an air of inevitability when Scunthorpe took the lead two minute later though. With Dons comfortably in cruise control, a mix-up started by David Martin’s quick taken goal kick at the back allowed Tom Hopper to turn unmarked in the box to rattle home the opener.
He needed to be at his best six minutes later as a rejuvenated Scunthorpe sensed an upset. Paddy Madden’s effort looked destined for the far corner when he fired in from the corner of the box, but the keeper got his finger tips to it, nudging it just around the post.
The goal should have sparked a little more urgency from the visitors, but it simply didn’t happen. Patient midfield play wasn’t bearing much fruit, with crosses from wide proving easy meat for Niall Canavan and Andrew Boyce in the middle of the park.
But out of nowhere, an equaliser brought them right back in it with 13 minutes to go. After Alli’s spectacular effort was tipped around the post and out for a corner, Kyle McFadzean powered home Baker’s corner to bring Dons back on level ground.
This really did light a fire under the game, as even the sparse crowd began to get into it. Both sides fancied their chances of snatching a late winner, and both had chances. Madden was causing all sorts of problems as he races around the Dons defence, while Will Grigg had to do better after Daniel Powell’s great hold up play opened things up for him on the edge of the box.
Despite six minutes of stoppage time, and 21 men in the Scunthorpe half towards the end, Dons’ couldn’t carve a decent opening, taking home a point.
Referee: Darren Bond
Attendance: 3,005 (147)
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Canavan, Madden, Bishop, O’Neil (McCallister 90), Murphy (McSheffrey 61), Boyce, Williams, Clarke, Hopper (Taylor 80), Osbourne
Subs not used: Anyon, Adelakun, Llera, Davey
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, McFadzean, Kay, Spence, Potter, Alli, Baker, Green (Powell 62), Grigg (Bowditch 87), Clarke-Harris (Cole 55)
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Hodson, Baldock, Hitchcock
Booked: Clarke, O’Neil, Grigg, McSheffrey, Osbourne