Benik Afobe scored early in the second half to condemn Chesterfield to their first home league defeat in 19 games.
Paul Cook selected an unchanged side. Jimmy Ryan had been his biggest doubt after picking up a knock in the weekend win over Rochdale. Dan Gardner returned to the bench after injury.
Karl Robinson made two changes to the side that lost 3-2 at Peterborough, Benik Afobe and Daniel Powell coming in for Will Grigg and the injured Danny Green. Former Spireite Mark Randall was on a bench that unusually, included two keepers.
The first half began in a cagey manner but as time wore on, Spireites became more confident and began to pass, camp in the Dons’ half and generally more than compete with a side that’s rarely been out of the top ten of League One in the last few seasons.
Jay O’Shea found space on the left time and again against his former club, delivering teasing crosses and generally terrorising the visiting back line.
Dons occasionally broke through, Afobe saw Tommy Lee block an angled shot and he hit badly high from a volley when he had plenty of time. Ben Reeves saw a shot blocked well by Dan Jones but the key moments were the other end.
Sam Morsy, whose link with Jimmy Ryan is peerless at this level, saw Dave Martin twice save whilst Gary Roberts and Romy Boco both saw valiant efforts blocked when they looked goalbound.
From one of Spireites’ ten first half corners, to one in reply, Ian Evatt’s header was blocked on the line and Sam Hird’s header from the rebound hit the post.
Roberts and Kyle McFadzean were both booked for a spat after the Chesterfield man fouled the Dons’ keeper ahead of Morsy almost getting through as the break approached.
Cook must have been delighted with his team’s showing but will have been disappointed not to have seen them ahead.
Doyle had an outstanding chance to score just 25 seconds after the restart. McFadzean and former Barnsley man Antony Kay got in a tangle and the Irishman was one-on-one but he curled his shot wide.
The disappointment of that missed chance was highlighted soon after when Afobe picked up close to the right touchline, stepped by Hird, moved into the box before hitting low beyond Lee.
Lee had to save at the feet of Dean Bowditch after Tendayi Darikwa erred as the game really opened up.
The manager made a double substitution and the game’s tempo increased again but Dons began to exploit the extra space with George Baldock, sub right back, instrumental in many of their raids.
Afobe misjudged from a perfect Reeves cross when he should have all but ended Spireites interest in the points. From then on Chesterfield bossed possession but were unable to sufficiently pressure the visiting defence into conceding despite several close calls.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 6; Darikwa 7, Evatt 7, Hird 7, Jones 7; Ryan 8 (Gardner 81), Morsy 8; Boco 7 (Gnanduillet 63, 6), Roberts 6, O’Shea 7 (Banks 63, 6); Doyle 6. Subs (not used): Chapman, Raglan, Johnson, Dawes.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin 7; Hodson 6 (Baldock 54, 7), McFadzean 7, Kay 8, Lewington 7; Alli 7, Potter 6; Powell 6, Bowditch 7 (Grigg 89), Reeves 8; Afobe 7. Subs (not used); McLoughlin, Burns, Flanagan, Randall, Hitchcock.
Goal: Afobe 49
Bookings: Roberts, Morsy (Chesterfield), McFadzean, Reeves, Baldock (MK Dons).
referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincs)
attendance: 5,811 (246 from MK Dons)