A Benik Afobe brace fired Dons into the last 16 of the Capital One Cup for the first time in their history after a sticky 2-0 win over Bradford City.
In the last round, Dons famously saw off Manchester United in front of a packed house at stadium:mk . This time around, there wasn’t the same glitz and glamour, instead a nitty-gritty battle between two sides familiar with one-another, having met just seven days earlier in League 1.
This time though, Dons came out on top, with goals in either half by top scorer Afobe, guaranteeing the home side a spot in the hat for the next round.
After the 6-1 mauling of Crewe Alexandra, Karl Robinson made three changes to the starting line-up for the Capital One Cup. Jordan Spence took over at right back from George Baldock, Samir Carruthers returned to replace Daniel Powell and Benik Afobe, fresh from scoring on Saturday, made it back to the starting line-up.
And he certainly made his presence felt, firing Dons into the lead after just four minutes. With his back to goal, Afobe was played the ball by Darren Potter, and neatly spinning his man, Afobe rifled home from the edge of the box to put the home side ahead.
From there, Dons always looked comfortable. With more of the ball than their opponents, there were few threats on David Martin’s goal, though similarly, Dons didn’t do an awful lot to concern Ben Williams in the Bradford net. Ben Reeves though should have done better with his free kick from 20 yards out, bending it up and over the bar.
With little in the way of clear cut chances, Dons were still trying to put on a show, albeit of keep ball with an audacious pass for an encore. Reeves, Potter and Samir Carruthers all send 40 yard balls pinging out to the flanks as the crowds oohed and ahhed like it was a fireworks display, even though there was little of explosive nature.
There was renewed hope for a more entertaining second half, particularly when Dean Bowditch shrugged off his marker to slide Spence in around the back, but his strike was just wide of the upright.
Afobe was a real thorn in the side for Bradford’s defence in the first half, proving impossible to knock off the ball, and he carried that into the second period, and could have doubled his tally for the night. Latching onto Dean Lewington’s through ball, Afobe initially saw shot forced wide by the encroaching Williams. But his persistence saw the striker regain possession before trying his luck for a second time, forcing another good stop from the City keeper.
There was absolutely nothing Williams could do with Dons’ next chance though. Kyle McFadzean, still up from a corner, found himself 20 yards out with space opening up, and tried his luck. But his strike, while beating Williams, came back off the post. With the Bradford defence at sixes and sevens, Reeves stepped up to blast home, but saw his strike deflected just wide for another corner.
The flurry of chances at one end seemed to spark Bradford into life, as did the introduction of Aaron McLean, who made a nuisance of himself among McFadzean and Antony Kay.
In the encounter between the two sides this time last week, Kay gifted the ball for Billy Clarke to score. So when McFadzean did the very same thing, there were cries of ‘not again’ from the crowd, but this time around, Clarke’s strike, while cleaner than seven days ago, wasn’t on target.
But rather than go all hands to the pump to seek a second, Dons seemed content to run out the clock. But no-one passed the note to Alli or Afobe, as the teenager unleashed the striker in behind, and one-on-one with Williams, there was only going to be one winner as Afobe send Dons into the fourth round.
Referee: Mick Russell
Attendance: 5,707 (572)
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Potter, Alli, Carruthers (Grigg 78), Bowditch (Powell 54), Reeves (Baldock 90), Afobe
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Randall, Baldock, Hitchcock
Bradford: Williams, Meredith, Liddle, Clarke, Knott, Kennedy, Routis, McBurnie (McLean 65), Morais (Webb-Foster 85), McArdle, Bennett (Yeates 65)
Subs not used: Urwin, Pollard, Wright, King,
Booked: Bowditch, Carruthers