PREMIER League Queens Park Rangers will visit stadium:mk in January after Dons’ comfortable 3-1 win over Barnet on Saturday.
While it won’t go down as a classic FA Cup tie, goals from Darren Potter, Charlie MacDonald and Daniel Powell at Underhill were enough to put Dons into the third round draw and give them a fairly lucrative tie against the Premier League newboys.
“Give Barnet tremendous credit,” Dons boss Karl Robinson said after the game. “They made it a fantastic cup tie.
“This competition is so special. Form and statistics go out the window and I thought Barnet gave it a right good go.
“But at times I felt we had the class to kill it off. We were clinical in our finishing, precise in our passing, but it wasn’t a great performance.
“It’s one of our worst performances, but we have scored 60 goals in all competitions now. It’s six straight wins now, and we need to keep that up.
“The Cup is secondary this season, but it adds tremendous value to the club, if we keep winning.”
Izale McLeod reminded the 900 travelling Dons fans what they had missed since his departure in 2007 as he looked dangerous in the opening half an hour, but his lacklustre finishing left a lot to be desired as he twice had golden opportunities to put Barnet into the lead but spurned the chances by firing high and wide of the target.
Dons looked comfortable in possession, despite being outnumbered in the centre of park, and Jabo Ibehre looked lively up front, forcing Bees stopper Dean Brill into a good save at his near post.
There were some nervous faces on the Dons bench when David Martin picked up a dead leg when challenging for a ball in the air and had to be withdrawn, allowing Ian McLoughlin to make his first appearance for the club.
And it was another first, Potters’ first goal for the club, that put Dons into the lead with a well-placed strike into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Barnet came close to finding an equaliser two minutes before the break when McLeod again showed quick feet to get space in the box before a brilliant tackle from Tom Flanagan averted the danger, but it was enough to keep hold of the lead until half time.
It wasn’t quite the usual rip-roaring Dons that came out to start the second half, but they comfortable and well in control of the tie. MacDonald should have done better when he spun his man on the edge of the area, and could have slipped Angelo Balanta through but for a last-ditch intervention from Deering, winning a free kick for the Bees.
Barnet enjoyed a series of corners, penning Dons in their own penalty area, but they couldn’t force the issue, or McLoughlin into making a save.
The best chance of the half came from a Dons break on the hour mark – Dean Bowditch raced down the left flank and spotting MacDonald alone in the centre, and played the ball low but it was just out of reach of the former Brentford man.
The half dragged on with few chances created at either end and neither keeper really forced into making a meaningful save. Things threatened to liven up when Shaun Williams hit the base of the post with a shot with 15 minutes remaining.
McLeod reminded the travelling Dons fans of the frustration he used to cause when he wasted a three-on-one chance by going alone.
But Dons went straight up the other end, and Potter’s pinpoint pass found MacDonald in the area, who neatly rounded Brill to fire the visitors into a two goal lead.
Dons were now well in control, and were able to withdraw the influential Potter and MacDonald before the end. Dean Lewington put a free kick narrowly past Brill’s upright
But four minutes from time, Barnet earned themselves a lifeline. Deering’s shot from the edge of the area came through a crowd of bodies, forcing McLoughlin to make a great low stop, but the rebound fell to McLeod, who fired in from the tightest of angles, pulling the score back to 2-1.
However, it took Dons less than 60 seconds to restore their two-goal advantage and put their name into the third round hat when Lewington intercepted in midfield and spotted substitute Powell racing through. And running from half-way, Powell lashed the ball past Brill to put the result beyond doubt, booking Dons’ place in the third round.
This didn’t stop Barnet pouring forward though, with McLoughlin pulling off a magnificent save at full-stretch from Kamdjo’s header at the death.
And his encouraging performance between the sticks earned praise from Robinson after the game, with questions over Martin‘s fitness ahead of the game against Tranmere Rovers next Saturday.
Robinson said: “David’s got a dead leg and we hope he can overcome it by next Saturday.
“Ian’s been a great number two and he works hard everyday. Those saves weren’t through good luck. He’s waited his opportunity and taken it.
“But he won’t shut up now, he’ll tell me he’s the best keeper in the league and that he should be playing – I like that about him!
“He’s not one to sit down and let the world pass him by. He’s a very strange character, a lovable man and he’ll be in my ears for the next seven days, telling me he’s Ireland’s number one and that he should be playing against Italy and Spain in the European Championships!
“But he came on, made two terrific saves and backed his mouth up. “
The clash with QPR looks set to be played on Saturday January 7 at stadium:mk.