TOWN’S slim hopes of a play-off place remain alive.
An Andy Butler strike earned a priceless point from a tough encounter with the high-flying Dons.
Andy Booth made his first start since September 20 and his return also marked his 600th game for his hometown club – Everton loanee Lukas Jutkiewicz was dropped to the bench.
Anthony Pilkington shook off an ankle injury sustained in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by Millwall to start and Tom Clarke was also included in the absence of Lionel Ainsworth, with Michael Flynn taking a place on the bench.
The Dons, without suspended skipper Dean Lewington, had Jason Puncheon, their loan signing from Plymouth, back in their line-up.
The Dons started brightly and former Manchester United youth product Luke Chadwick had the first chance, but his low drive was well saved by Town teenage keeper Alex Smithies – celebrating his call-up to the England Under 19 squad.
Smithies was in the thick of it again on 10 minutes and needed treatment for a blow sustained while trying to reach a cross.
The home side continued to push the pace and on 16 minutes Sam Baldock made a superb break beating two defenders before crashing a 20 yard shot against the woodwork.
Town began to make some in-roads with widemen Gary Roberts and Pilkington causing the Dons defence most problems.
Town were under pressure again on 33 minutes when Andy Butler fouled Aaron Wilbraham but Puncheon’s 22 yard free kick was too high.
On 40 minutes Dons defender Sean O’Hanlon had to stretch to deny Booth an effort on goal from a Pilkington free kick.
However, the home side started the second period very brightly and inside 10 minutes Puncheon split the Town defence with a great run but his left-foot shot was marginally wide.
Four minutes later Dons were in front when Chadwick produced a good run on the left and provided the perfect low cross to give Baldock the easiest of tap-ins.Related content
On 69 minutes the Dons again clicked into top gear with Puncheon combining with a neat one-two, but Chadwick’s low cross was hurriedly cleared by Town skipper Chris Lucketti.
Town came close on 75 minutes with Booth getting a half chance but he was unable to mark his landmark appearance with a goal.
But Town were level on 79 minutes when Pilkington’s corner hit a melee in six yard box and Andy Butler managed to guide the ball past the despairing lunges of Jude Stirling and keeper Willy Gueret.
Seven minutes from time Puncheon again made one of his telling runs and Smithies had to be brave to save at his feet.
Town almost nicked it when Roberts broke brilliantly and crossed, Michael Collins set up substitute Michael Flynn whose shot hit a post, a defender on the line and was gratefully grabbed by Gueret.