Three new heroes were born on Tuesday night as MK Dons once again saw off AFC Wimbledon at stadium:mk, winning 3-1.
After the circus of the initial tie in 2012, it was feared that the sequel wouldn’t live up to the billing. But a Heel of God contender from Kyle McFadzean to open the scoring after 19 minutes set the ball rolling for Dons, and from there they didn’t look back.
Daniel Powell wrong footed James Shea to double the lead just four minutes after the restart, before Benik Afobe’s first goal for the club wrapped things up with 16 minutes to go.
Matt Tubbs’ penalty in stoppage time was a mere footnote.
There were two changes to Dons’ starting line-up from the side which beat Gillingham 4-2 on Saturday - Dean Bowditch and Will Grigg made way for Daniel Powell and Benik Afobe.
The evening had threatened to be something of a damp squib, with seemingly little hype surrounding the game. However, in the 10 minutes before kick off, the atmosphere began to bubble nicely as both sets of supporters vied for position behind the goals.
Naturally, it was a tense opening, not helped by the presence of a stretcher early on as Jack Smith was wheeled from the field after just 13 minutes. But neither keeper was tested in the opening exchanges, though Dele Alli dragged a shot just wide of the mark.
AFC probably should have taken the lead when Ade Akinfenwa muscled his way past Antony Kay, but Matt Tubbs saw his shot blocked by David Martin, though Sean Rigg wasn’t expecting the rebound to come his way, and after an initial air shot, could only poke straight into the welcoming arms of the Dons keeper.
The visitors were made to pay for their miss though, as Dons went about recreating history once more. Jon Otsemobor may be remembered by everyone at stadium:mk for his infamous Heel of God goal the last time the sides met, but he may have to share the nickname with Kyle McFadzean, after his audacious spin at the near post saw him flick Danny Green’s 19th minute corner into Shea’s net.
With a sense of more to come, Dons looked ever-more threatening, particularly from Green’s set pieces. Akinfenwa nodded one just out of reach of Dean Lewington’s forehead and Darren Potter saw his shot blocked in the melee around the penalty spot.
Alli appeared to be the man to thrive most in the amped-up atmosphere, and did his best to aggravate things when he rolled the ball casually past two challenges from players in blue, and dinking it past a third to set Ben Reeves through the middle. While Alli was clattered to the ground, Reeves put the ball narrowly wide of the upright.
The London side nearly got themselves on the scoresheet on the stroke of half time, courtesy of some sloppy defending from Reeves. Martin skied his punch after George Francomb’s corner, and Reeves, stood just inside the box, headed to his right, only to find an unmarked Sean Rigg. From the angle, Rigg’s shot was off target enough to be deemed a cross, and was just inches away from Tubbs’ out-stretched toe as it rolled well wide of Martin’s goal.
Dons needed a second goal to settle the nerves, if just for the home support, and they get that in the fourth minute of the second half. A quick break saw Green slide the ball across to Powell, who, from 20 yards, wrong-footed Shea by dragging his right-footed effort to the near post, nestling neatly in the back of the net to double Dons’ lead.
As if the tie needed some extra spice, Green and Bennett had a little scuffle after a heavy challenge from the MK man, sparking a scrum as both teams tried to interject. The incriminated pair seemed to see the funny side as it dispersed, though Green left in the referee’s book.
Daniel Powell looked a new man after his goal, and a once-trademark ranging run saw him get to the byline, and his pull-back was pinging around in the danger zone, though Reeves couldn’t direct his attempt on target.
Dele Alli was proving a real thorn in the side for the visitors, but his success was attracting the wrong sort of attention from the AFC defence, who cut down the 18-year-old at every given opportunity. One such tackle on the left-hand touchline was one too many for Robinson, who instantly called for Mark Randall to replace his midfield talisman for the remaining 22 minutes.
Without the midfield driving force, Dons allowed their opponents a little period of pressure, but their long balls into the area were cleaned up well by Martin, who dealt with everything in the air with ease.
And Dons were able to wrap things up with 16 minutes to go when Afobe, who had a relatively quiet night until that point, shrugged off the attentions of Bennett to race clear on goal. Striking from the edge of the box, Shea had no chance of getting near it as the home side took a three goal lead.
It could’ve been more with three minutes to go, but after Powell’s hard work down the left once more, George Baldock had his shot cleared off the goal line, while into stoppage time, Akinfenwa couldn’t aim his header past Lee Hodson, who too cleared off the line.
Late in the day, McFadzean put a minor blip on his great game by conceding a late penalty which Tubbs duly converted. A minor pitch invasion was quickly squashed, as the referee called time.
As an almost forgotten by product of the encounter is Dons’ inclusion in the second round of the League Cup, with the prospect of another big draw on the cards.
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 7,174 (1,132)
MK Dons: Martin, Hodson, Lewington, McFadzean, Kay, Potter, Alli (Randall 68), Green (Baldock 81), Powell, Reeves (Hitchcock 60), Afobe
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Bowditch, Grigg
AFC: Shea, Fuller, Smith (Kennedy 13), Bulman, Bennett, Francomb (Sainte-Luce 62), Moore, Tubbs, Akinfenwa, Rigg (Arthur 72), Phillips
Subs not used: Worner, Pell, Azeez, Nicholson
Booked: Tubbs, Alli, Green, Afobe