Nahki Wells forced a dramatic draw for 10-man Huddersfield Town with an 85th-minute equaliser.
Things were looking bleak after Alex Revell’s first-half header and a sensational straight red card for Philip Billing – less than four minutes after he had come off the bench.
But Wells popped up with his fourth goal in five games and 14th of the season to reward Town’s determination and spirit
Teenage midfielder Billing, brought on at the start of the second half as part of a double substitution by David Wagner, was harshly sent off for his challenge on Jake Forster-Caskey.
With three matches within eight days, head coach David Wagner said he would rotate, and duly made two changes for Town’s first trip to stadium:mk since the 2012 League I play-offs.
Martin Cranie returned at centre-back, with Joel Lynch dropping to the bench, while Karim Matmour replaced Philip Billing, who had made a big impact in the previous three games, but was rested for this one.
It was a 50th Championship start in Town colours for Harry Bunn, who took up the No10 role, with Jamie Paterson dropping back to play alongside Jonathan Hogg in Wagner’s strict 4-2-3-1 system, the same as that employed by MK.
The home side made the early running and forced an early free-kick wide out, then a corner, but Town dealt with them comfortably enough.
Nahki Wells had the first shot of the match from a Matmour pass, but his angled effort was off target, then Cranie put a free header from a Paterson corner well wide.MK had been criticised by their supporters for a lack of punch up front during Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by Bristol City, but they fired in four efforts in quick succession in this clash.
Jed Steer used his feet to block a drive by Jonny Williams then held a shot from distance by the same player.
The Town keeper then thwarted Revell before a follow-up from Dean Bowditch was blocked by Cranie.
Bowditch’s pull-back of Lolley brought a free-kick on the edge of the area, but the Town forward was unable to take advantage, bending the ball over the bar.Town were made to rue that missed opportunity even more when MK went ahead in the 28th minute through Revell, who headed home from a Williams cross.
The visitors were struggling to find any real fluency, and when Lolley did well to win a 35th-minute corner, they were unable to take advantage of Peterson’s delivery.
The first half finished with a Town winning a stoppage-time free-kick, but instead of firing the ball into the area, they inexplicably continued to pass patiently until the whistle blew.
Town began the second half with Billing and winger Elvis Manu on for Lolley and Bunn and Paterson playing in a more advanced position.
But Billing was back in the dressing room within four minutes after being ruled to have raised his foot in a tackle on Jake Forster-Caskey.
Referee Michael Bull’s decision seemed harsh indeed, and Town’s travelling fans certainly weren’t happy as their side were left with an ever tougher task.
It was the fifth sending off by the Essex whistler this season and the third in his last five matches.
MK twice came close from free-kicks from the left by Josh Murphy, the first an angled effort across the face of goal and just wide and the second just past the near post.
Wells had a good chance set up by James Husband in the 65th minute, but could only lash the ball well over.
Then the Bermudian chiseled out a good position on the edge of the area and had his shot tipped over by Cody Cropper before Forster-Caskey got in a key clearance from Hudson as the corner came in.
Manu made an important tackle as Bowditch lined up a shot for MK, then Town made their third change, replacing Husband with Lynch, who went up front rather than into defence.
Town finally got the equaliser their fans were craving when Tommy Smith’s punt was flicked on for Wells to finish off.
And in the circumstances, it was an excellent point.