Ben Reeves and Samir Carruthers missed spot kicks as Reading needed extra time and a penalty shoot-out to beat MK Dons at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night.
The game itself finished 2-2. Dean Bowditch fired Dons into an unlikely first half lead after 34 minutes when he converted a penalty after Kabonga Tshimanga was downed by keeper Anssi Jaakkola. But Reading weren’t ready to be embarrassed by an under-strength League 1 side, and piled on the pressure in the second half, eventually levelling through Callum Harriott.
Ben Reeves and Ed Upson rattled the frame of the goal in extra time for Dons, but it was Harriott again who stroked home with seven minutes to go.
It appeared as though the Championship side were heading for the third round until Tshimanga poked home at the death to send it to spot kicks. But Reeves’ second penalty miss in three days, and a save from Jaakkola to deny Carruthers gave Jordan Obita the chance to rattle home the decisive penalty and send Reading through 4-2 on spot kicks.
As expected, Karl Robinson made eight changes to the side which started on Saturday in the 1-0 win over Rochdale. Goal-scorer Scott Wootton kept his place at the back, but was partnered by Paul Downing who missed the match at Spotland through illness. Ed Upson and Dean Bowditch were the only other survivors of Saturday’s side as Robinson picked youth.
Like against Newport County in the previous round, Dons were very much on the back foot as the Championship side tried to force the issue. Lee Nicholls made two early saves, but the strikes weren’t especially troubling for the Dons keeper.
Soirees into the Reading half were fleeting for the visitors, but they weren’t without their opportunities. Dean Bowditch cut inside onto his right foot to curl one goalwards, but it was gobbled up by keeper Anssi Jaakkola. The Finn needed to be alert to Oran Jackson’s strike too, tipping the ball over the top.
But despite the home side looking comfortable, a short back pass back to the Reading keeper allowed Kabongo Tshimanga to break clear on goal. But as he took a touch around Jaakkola, he was tripped by the Finn earning his side a penalty. Dean Bowditch stepped up and made no mistakes as he rattled home the spot kick to give the visitors an unlikely 35th minute lead.
Reading didn’t look much like threatening in the closing stages, but managed to create something of nothing in first half stoppage time when Stephen Quinn picked out Joseph Mendes, but Nicholls was alert to it, doing brilliantly to tip over the top.
Ben Reeves was brought on by Dons at the interval, but a sickening clash of heads between Liam Kelly and Jake Cooper, had the whole stadium concerned as Kelly remained on the ground. After a lengthy delay, he was stretched from the field - the second of the night after Dennis Rakels was replaced in the first half.
The home side were very much in the ascendency in the second half, but Nicholls was looking more than assured as high balls were easy for him to gather.
He made a fantastic save to deny Tannai Watson’s long range effort, but it was only a matter of time before Reading were level as Callum Harriott’s fierce strike curled away from the Dons keeper into the side of the net to equalise with 21 minutes remaining.
The goal though seemed to spark Dons into life. With Samir Carruthers and George C Williams introduced to the action, the visitors looked like they had a new lease of life, and began to plan some nice football. Tshimanga gradually saw more of the ball as he chased everything down, and gave Jaakkola his only save of the second half as he struck a low effort on goal.
But the game was destined for extra time as Nicholls showed off his abilities to deny Roy Beerens on two occasions late in the day, while Mendes had to do better from close range deep into stoppage time but somehow struck over the top.
Dons were desperately unlucky not to take the lead five minutes into extra time when they hit the frame of the goal not once but twice in the space of 10 seconds, first through Reeves and then through Upson as he fired the rebound in on goal.
Reeves again tested Jaakkola in the second half of extra time but as the clock ticked on, it was Harriott who fired low past an unlucky Nicholls with seven minutes.
And it appeared as though it was going to be enough, but no one told Tshimanga, who plucked Upson’s ball out of the sky to bring out a save from Jaakkola, but he was on hand to poke home the rebound to send it to spot kicks.
But misses from Reeves, his second in three days, and Carruthers in the shoot-out would ensure Reading would go through to the next round, with Jordan Obita hammering home the winning penalty.
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Attendance: 6,848 (361)
Reading: Jaakkola, Cooper, Mendes, Rakels (Beerens 21), Obita, Harriott, Moore, Quinn, Gravenberch (D Williams 76), Watson, Kelly (Evans 53)
Subs not used: Bond, Gunter, Kermorgant
MK Dons: Nicholls, Tilney, Downing, Wootton, GB Williams, Upson, Jackson (Reeves 46), Thomas-Asante (GC Williams 71), Bowditch (Carruthers 63), Rasulo, Tshimanga
Subs not used: Carruthers, Brittain, Furlong, Burns, Osei-Bonsu
Booked: Jaakkola, Bowditch, Moore, Quinn, D Williams