Chesterfield 1, MK Dons 1
Chesterfield extended their unbeaten run to four games but the point gained did their hopes of avoiding the drop little good.
Drew Talbot gave the Spireites a third-minute lead and they could have been three up after 12 minutes.
But they were unable to build on their bright opening and promotion-chasing MK Dons hit a 56th minute leveller through Jay O’Shea.
The balance tilted in the visitors’ favour and it took a string of smart saves from the dependable Tommy Lee to preserve a point for John Sheridan’s men.
Making his debut was Franck Moussa, signed on-loan until the end of the season from Leicester.
A Belgian-born midfielder, Moussa has represented his country at U18 level and will wear the No 30 shirt.
Chesterfield got off to the best possible start with an early goal from their first corner.
Danny Whitaker sent in a deep cross, skipper Neal Trotman made contact with his head at the far post and Talbot found the net with a well-struck half-volley from the edge of the area.
In the tenth minute, a Jordan Bowery header left strike partner Jack Lester with only the Dons keeper to beat.
The veteran marksman is normally deadly in such situations but David Martin managed to palm away his shot away for a corner.
Two minutes later, Lester returned the favour but Bowery’s dangerous-looking shot was deflected narrowly wide for another flag kick.
Bowery appears to have matured in recent months and his work-rate, energy and ability to win headers in important areas of the pitch was one highlight of the afternoon.
It was a confident start from the men in blue and Moussa began to find his feet when he set up a shooting chance for Whitaker following a swift and purposeful break from the centre of the pitch.
And right at the end of the first half, Moussa had an opportunity to crown his debut with a goal which would have doubled Chesterfield’s lead but his aim way wayward as his shot flew wide of the target.
Former Manchester United and England player Alan Smith had a quiet time in midfield but the visitors bared their teeth when Daniel Powell was brought on at the start of the second half.
Powell gave the Dons a cutting edge with his pace and direct approach but it was Lee who had to be at his most alert after Liam Ridehalgh lost possession on the left.
The ball was moved forward quickly and the Spireites keeper pulled off a double save, blocking on-target efforts from Powell and O’Shea.
Whitaker had a chance to make it 2-0 but he lofted Talbot’s cross over the bar before a tricky individual run and shot from O’Shea found the net, the Irishman bringing the scores level on St Patrick’s Day.
Powell was again denied by a brilliant piece of shot-stopping from Lee before Sheridan brought on three substitutes in a bid to turn the tide.
And one of them - Nicky Ajose - ran himself into a good position wide on the right but opted for a shot, which flew across the face of goal, when Trotman was well placed in an unmarked position.
Dons sub Robert Hall hit the bar while Lee made another breath-taking double save to preserve the point with six minutes left, stopping Ray Lewington’s long-range shot before blocking Charlie McDonald’s follow-up header.
Ajose and James Hurst came close as the clock ticked down but there was a feeling of deflation at the final whistle.
Under different circumstances a draw against a promotion-chasing team may have seemed okay, especially as it stretched the undefeated sequence.
But if Chesterfield are to stop up, it is wins that are needed.
Chesterfield: Lee, Trotman, Thompson, Ridehalgh, Hurst, Allott, Whitaker (Ajose 73), Moussa (Mendy 65), Lester (Westcarr 65), Bowery, Talbot. Subs not used: Fleming, Ford.
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Doumbe, Flanagan, Potter, Smith, Williams, O’Shea, Chadwick (Hall 71), MacDonald, Ibehre (Powell 46). Subs not used: McLoughlin, Chicksen, Slane.
Referee: Steve Rushton (Staffs).
Attendance: 6,444 (433 from MK Dons).