Steven Davies put Dale ahead with a close ranger header after his initial effort had come back off the post, but he was forced off nine minutes later through injury.
Kieran Agard equalised as the game entered the final 20 minutes, but Nathaniel Mendez-Laing restored Dale’s advantage with five minutes of normal time remaining.
However, Ben Reeves’ deflected cross brought The Dons level in injury time, denying Dale all three points.
Keith Hill made two changes from last weekend’s pulsating 3-3 draw with Sheffield United. Matthew Lund missed out through suspension, whilst Keith Keane had not recovered from a calm problem sustained last weekend. Joe Rafferty returned from his suspension, alongside Calvin Andrew who missed the match against the Blades through illness.
Hill’s men enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half and capitalised on that by breaking the deadlock in the 16th minute. Andrew, breaking forward from left-back, crossed to the near post where Davies headed an initial effort against the upright. Fortunately for Dale, the ball popped up kindly for Davies to nod home the rebound from a yard out.
Dale’s leading goal scorer had a great chance to double the lead just four minutes later, this time meeting a ball from the right side. Ian Henderson crossed to the far post where Davies won the header, but directed it the wrong side of woodwork.
The afternoon would come to an abrupt end for Davies shortly after though, when he picked up a knock which forced him off the pitch. Joe Thompson replaced him up front.
The substitute had a golden chance ten minutes after entering the fray, and will wonder how he didn’t double Dale’s advantage. A free-kick sent to the back post was brought down by Harrison McGahey, who flashed a low ball across the face of goal, where Thompson scooped over the crossbar from close range.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing tested Dons goalkeeper David Martin a minute later as Dale pushed for a second before the break. He fooled two defenders inside the area with a step over, and forced Martin into a save with his legs at the near post.
The hosts’ best chance of the half came two minutes before the break, when Harvey Barnes broke into the left side of the area. He shot across the face of goal, and only inches wide of Ben Wilson’s left post.
Andrew and Ben Reeves exchanged efforts from free-kicks over the crossbar as the second half action took a while to warm up.
Henderson’s dangerous cross from the left side was blocked back to his feet, and he curled an effort from the angle into the arms of Martin.
Andy Cannon was replaced by Callum Camps midway through the period with Dale’s second change, shortly before Upson curled a free-kick straight at Wilson from over 30 yards.
MK Dons’ equaliser came with their first real chance of the second half, and it came from substitute Kieran Agard. Ben Tilney’s cross from the left found its way to the substitute at the far post, where he diverted the ball over the line despite not knowing too much about it.
Niall Canavan replaced Ollie Rathbone with fifteen minutes remaining, but it was fellow substitute Camps who created Dale’s second goal ten minutes later.
He picked up the ball inside the MK Dons half and curled a sublime pass into the path of Mendez-Laing with the outside of his boot. Mendez-Laing broke into the area and finished clinically to the far post to put Dale ahead for a second time.
It looked as though that goal had secured all three points for Dale, but as the game entered four minutes of added time, victory was snatched away via a cruel deflection.
Reeves made a yard for himself on the right side of the area and fired in a low cross, which deflected off the foot of Jamie Allen and in off the far post.
Andrew’s looping header was Dale’s final chance to take the lead for the third time, but they would have to settle for a point.