Dons had to settle for a frustrating home draw against struggling Bury at stadiummk this afternoon.
It looked set to be a good afternoon for the hosts after Dean Bowditch’s early opener but the Shakers, 23rd in League One before kick-off, struck back after the interval through Steven Schumacher.
Izale McLeod went straight into the starting line-up to make his second debut for the club after returning to Dons from Portsmouth.
The club’s all-time leading scorer played in the lone striker’s role with Ryan Lowe dropping just behind against his former club.
Skipper Dean Lewington started at left back as usual and was presented with a trophy before the game to mark the 400th league appearance of his career.
Dons were boosted by the return of injured duo Bowditch and Dan Powell to the side and unlike last week they named a full set of seven substitutes, although a replacement keeper was not among that number.
Karl Robinson’s Dons have missed Bowditch’s presence and the winger showed exactly why with a fine individual goal to open the scoring after 15 minutes.
After a mazy run which saw him swerve around Bury players, the former Yeovil man finished beautifully with a curling effort which flew out of Trevor Carson’s reach and into the far corner.
He then nearly made it two with a fierce effort that was bending towards the top corner before Carson was able to claim, before Bury had a penalty shout waved away at the other end.
Dons keeper David Martin was surrounded by three visiting players as the ball bounced in the box, and although he appeared to drag down Lenell John-Lewis, referee Fred Graham awarded a free-kick to the hosts and not a spot kick.
Bury almost levelled soon afterwards anyway, but Tom Hopper’s low diving header went wide.
There was a first shot for McLeod who saw an effort fly high and wide, and the visitors then missed a golden chance to level when Schumacher’s six yard side footer was sent off target.
The Shakers were growing into the game and only a superb tipping save from Martin prevented Efe Sodje’s header from finding the roof of the net.
Powell was booked for diving by Mr Graham when he tumbled in the area, and Dons managed to regain the ascendancy before the end of the half.
They were very close to entering the changing rooms with a two goal advantage with two near misses in the closing stages of the opening 45.
Antony Kay’s bullet was cleared off the line by some last gasp Bury defending, and McLeod’s deflected looping effort struck an upright before rolling across the goalmouth.
McLeod went close again at the start of the second half but after turning in the area he didn’t get his shot away at the right moment and he eventually sliced wide.
Dons were on top, but they failed to put the visitors to the sword and were punished when Bury drew level on 65 minutes.
The hosts failed to clear their lines and Schumacher made them pay with a fine finish from just inside the box which fizzed past Martin.
It was a wake up call for Dons who suddenly seemed more energetic but when McLeod had an early chance to restore the lead the ball got caught under his feet as he tried to turn home Powell’s low cross.
This was an excellent opening and it was then Bury’s turn to wonder how they hadn’t scored for a second time.
Some unconvincing defending allowed John-Lewis to break free on goal but he took his shot early and sent the finish wide.
Robinson made a double change with just over ten minutes to go, bringing on Alan Smith and Zeli Ismail for McLeod and Powell.
Bury, seemingly keen for a point, began to pack their defence to make life difficult for Dons, and in the end Robinson’s men could find no way through.
They lacked intensity and tempo and will remember the game as being a case of two points dropped.
Dons: Martin, Lewington, Williams, Potter, Bowditch, Chicksen, McLeod (Smith 78), Lowe, Powell (Ismail 78), Harley, Kay. Unused subs: Otsemobor, Doumbe, MacKenzie, Smith, Alli, Rasulo, Ismail.
Booked: Powell, Bowditch.
Bury: Carson, Skarz, Worrall, Schumacher, John-Lewis, Sodje, Hughes, Hopper (Jones 55), Thompson, Ebanks-Landell, Soares (Carrington 90). Unused subs: Dibble, Wylde.
Ref: Fred Graham.