AGAINST all the odds, MK Dons booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a spectacular 4-2 victory over Premier League side QPR.
Armand Traore got the final touch to Shaun Williams’ third minute corner to put Dons into the lead, but it looked for all the world Rangers would get back into the game as they hemmed Dons in. But when Ryan Lowe slotted home the second five minutes before the break, it looked an uphill task for the home side.
But Dons weren’t done there. Lowe set up Ryan Harley for a routine tap in just after half time to make it 3-0, and Darren Potter blasted Dons into dream world when he made it four five minutes later. Jay Bothroyd got one back for Rangers with seven minutes to go as Loftus Road rapidly emptied. Fabio netted a second for Rangers in stoppage time, but it was too little too late for Harry Redknapp’s side as Dons booked a historic place in the fifth round.
In front of their biggest ever away following, Karl Robinson named his strongest 11 available, with Adam Chicksen started on the left flank, Dean Bowditch on the right and Shaun Williams in the centre of midfield alongside Alan Smith and Darren Potter.
As expected, Harry Redknapp didn’t chance many of his usual starting 11, but named a squad strong enough to give Dons a hard afternoon.
And it looked as though they were going to have to climb a mountain when DJ Campbell slotted past David Martin after just 60 seconds, but his celebrations were cut short as he fell foul of the offside flag.
But sensationally, it was Dons who went straight up the other end and scored the opener with just four minutes on the clock. Shaun Williams’ corner looked scuffed in at the near post, but under pressure from Dean Lewington, Armand Traore got the final flick which lifted it up and over Robert Green in the QPR net to give Dons the lead.
Naturally, this kicked QPR into high gear as the sought out the equaliser, and penned Dons into their own third. Alejandro Faurlin fired in a stinging shot which Martin palmed away to Ji-Sung Park, but Lewington made himself big in front of the South Korean, blocking his follow-up strike.
Two minutes later, Campbell’s shot from the edge of the area looking like it was looping over Martin’s head, but the keeper managed to keep hold of it as full stretch above his head.
But there was bad news on the horizon for Dons though, as Gary MacKenzie pulled up after chasing Traore’s brave break from defence to Dons’ byline – the defender was replaced by Ryan Harley, with Williams replacing him at centre back.
Since the goal, it had been all QPR. But for all their nice, one-touch popping football around the midfield, they weren’t really creating much to worry the 3,100 Dons fans behind the goal, though Jon Otsemobor’s shoulder barge on Jamie Mackie might have left a few expected Mike Dean to point to the spot. Despite protests from the home fans, he didn’t though.
In a rare flirt with the opposition’s third, space opened up in front of Dean Bowditch 20 yards from goal, but his left footed drive skidded well wide of the mark.
David Martin was having a busy afternoon at the other end though, diving low at Mackie’s feet as he was slipped through by Granero on the half hour, QPR’s best chance of the half.
But for all the home side’s pressure, it was Dons who’d get the next goal to double their lead five minutes before the break. Antony Kay’s long ball over the top was misjudged by Anton Ferdinand who watched it sail over his head. This allowed Ryan Lowe in behind with only Green to beat, which he did with calm and precision, rolling the ball into the bottom corner, sending the Dons fans into hysteria.
The second goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of QPR, leading to quite a comfortable run in to half time. Boos filled the air at the whistle as the home side trudged off, while the raucous Dons supporters cheered like they’d scored a third.
Incredibly though, they did score a third five minutes after the restart. Ryan Lowe broke the offside trap and raced down the left flank, cut back from the byline and played in substitute Harley, who routinely tapped in his first goal for the club, making it 3-0 to the League 1 side.
And three quickly became four when Darren Potter lashed home after some indecisive defending allowed Alan Smith to nod down around the penalty spot. With time and space, Potter fired into the bottom corner, leaving Green no chance, and making the 3,155 travelling supporters wondering whether they had really woken up this morning.
Surprisingly, from there, it was plain sailing for Dons. As the Loftus Road crowd grew ever more frustrated with Rangers’ play, Dons stroked the ball around nicely, eager to catch the home side on the break again as the fans begged for a fifth.
And Bowditch almost obliged 20 minutes from time when he wriggled free and forced a fine save from Green, diving low to his right.
DJ Campbell epitomised everything the home fans felt when he saw his shot screw wide as he pounded the ground in frustration – it just wasn’t happening for QPR, and they had been severely punished.
Former Don Jamie Mackie almost made the scoreline a little less embarrassing when he went clear with David Martin to beat. But Lewington threw in a quite brilliant, if not incredibly brave challenge to throw Mackie off balance, toeing the ball back to his keeper in the process.
Jay Bothroyd, who scored the goal against West Brom to book Rangers’ fourth round place, did what Mackie failed to do three minutes later when he headed in from inside the six yard box to make it 4-1.
And he almost made it 4-2 a minute later when he rounded Martin, only for his heavy touch to be cleared away by Williams.
Fabio capitalised on some slack defending to make it 4-2, but it was Dons who celebrated at the final whistle.
Dons must now wait with baited breath to discover their fifth round opponents, with the draw taking place on Sunday at 5.45pm.
Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: 17081 (3155)
QPR: Green, Traore, Ferdinand, Park (Zamora 67), Mackie, Granero, Fabio, Ben Haim, Faurlin, Bothroyd, Campbell
Subs not used: Murphy, Derry, Hill, Onouha, Ephraim, Mbia
MK Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Lewington, MacKenzie (Harley, 20), Kay, Potter, Williams, Smith (Lines, 75), Bowditch (Alli 90), Chicksen, Lowe
Subs not used: Doumbe, Flanagan, Rasulo, Ismail