CHESTERFIELD 1 MK DONS 1
Jay O'Shea grabbed a second half equaliser as Dons were forced to settle for a point at relegation threatened Chesterfield.
The Spireites started strongly and led as early as the second minute, and Dons were unable to turn things around despite surging back to take control in the contest.
Dean Bowditch missed the trip with a knee injury but there was room on the bench for new striker Rob Hall, signed on loan from West Ham on Friday.
Chesterfield have the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley to look forward to next weekend and an excited home crowd saw their team make a dream start.
Danny Whitaker dinked a cross into the box following a short corner with only two minutes on the clock, and the ball was nodded back across to Drew Talbot who lashed home from near the penalty spot.
Things should have got even worse when Jack Lester burst through one-on-one, but the striker's touch was poor and David Martin was able to save well in the Dons goal when the shot came.
The strong start for the Spireites continued though and Jordan Bowery was next to miss a more than presentable opening for the hosts.
Lester, with his back to goal, touched the ball back to his team-mate but Bowery's effort went over via a deflection when he had more time to pick his spot.
It could easily have been 3-0 to John Sheridan's side as Dons struggled to create openings of their own at the other end of the park.
Mathias Doumbe's long ranger was high of the mark as Karl Robinson's side were – unusually – second best in the early going.
The strong home start did gradually cool though and Dons began to find a foothold, with O'Shea's shot nearly catching out Chesterfield keeper Tommy Lee when it fell onto the roof of the net.
O'Shea then forced a save from Lee at his near post after Lester had found Martin's gloves with a deflected effort from inside the area.
Irishman O'Shea was looking lively, as in recent weeks, and his marauding run and pass set up Jabo Ibehre who fired into the stands on the turn.
Darren Potter's shot caught a nick and spun over as Dons began to assert themselves more in the final stages of the first half.
But the visitors, and Luke Chadwick in particular, were perhaps guilty of not pulling the trigger when they got into good positions and Robinson voiced frustrations on the sidelines when another chance to shoot went begging.
Franck Moussa had no such qualms at the other end though as his daisy-cutter fizzed narrowly wide.
Dan Powell came on to replace Ibehre at the start of the second half and a lightning run from the winger forced a good save from Lee as Dons started strongly after the break.
O'Shea then got in behind the home defence and forced Lee to make a save with his legs with a well struck effort.
There were early signs of promise but Chesterfield were close to a second when Whitaker sent the ball just off target following Talbot's curling delivery.
The message for Dons did seem to be shoot more though with O'Shea forcing Lee into another diving stop with a low drive from outside the box.
But Lee was unable to stop the winger's next effort as Dons found their leveller in front of their own fans.
With the Chesterfield defence giving him space to run O'Shea surged forward and dispatched a lovely finish past Lee which crashed low into the net.
On St Patrick's Day the Irishman's goal was just reward for his hard work but he proved that he was keen for more with a curling drive which went over just moments later.
Dons now looked in full control and a lovely passing move ended with a Chadwick shot curling just a fraction wide of the far post.
O'Shea then turned provider with an excellent pass to Powell which sent the substitute off on another swift run down the flank.
Charlie MacDonald was well placed to be slid in but the academy product went alone and his touch was heavy, allowing Lee to claim.
Powell had caused countless problems since his introduction and with 20 minutes left to play Robinson made another change by bringing on Hall in place of Chadwick.
Doumbe headed wide from a corner as Dons continued to dominate but Chesterfield sub Nicky Ajose was only inches away himself as the fragility of the scoreline was hammered home.
Bowery then forced Martin to punch wide as the Spireites refused to wait for a seemingly inevitable Dons winner before Hall's first shot in MK colours crashed off the crossbar after the striker had shown fantastic footwork.
Hall then set-up Powell who bundled a shot wide, and MacDonald headed straight at Lee after the keeper had only parried Dean Lewington's thunderbolt.
With five minutes remaining the game became increasingly end to end with both sides targeting a victory.
O'Shea should have found the net again but he spooned wide in front of goal and James Hurst fired through a crowd of Dons defenders and into Martin's arms.
But no breakthrough arrived for either side in three minutes of stoppage time.
Chesterfield: Lee, Hurst, Trotman, Thompson, Ridehalgh, Allott, Talbot, Moussa (Mendy 63), Whitaker (Ajose 72), Bowery, Lester (Westcarr 63). Unused subs: Fleming, Ford.
Dons: Martin, Lewington, Doumbe, Potter, MacDonald, Smith, Williams, Flanagan, Ibehre (Powell 46), O'Shea, Chadwick (Hall 70). Unused subs: Chicksen, Slane, McLoughlin.
Att: 6,444 (433)
Ref: Steven Rushton.