FORGET which competition Tuesday night’s 2-1 win came in, rather focus on the ease at which it came about, writes Toby Lock.
Karl Robinson’s men put aside the turmoil of the previous three days – putting to the back of their minds the four red cards which has seen their play thrust, somewhat unwontedly, into the limelight – and just got on with their business.
Stephen Gleeson returned from suspension and not only took up his usual midfield role alongside Darren Potter, but also the captain’s armband in the absence of Dean Lewington.
The Irish midfielder would be influential throughout his comeback game, resuming the partnership with Potter that won over many critics last season – and a partnership that may have to win a few more over given the start the club has had.
Before kick-off, Robinson proudly paraded his newest recruit of five this summer, Jimmy Bullard, in front of his new audience.
The free agent signed a deal to keep him with the club until December 31, with fans already singing the name of the popular attacking midfielder.
Blackburn Rovers, relegated to the Championship last season, were the opponents in the League Cup second round clash at stadium:mk.
Some unfamiliar names were among their starting line-up, but on the bench awaited several with Premier League experience should it be required against the League 1 side.
And the ‘Kean out’ boys were in good voice behind the goal, making their feelings known to the manager even before kick-off that they didn’t appreciate his performance as gaffer.
Steve Kean’s side were almost subjected to the ultimate humiliation as Daniel Powell broke through after just 40 seconds to fire on goal – fortunately for the Rovers manager, his namesake in goal, Jake, was on hand to get low and clutch the ball safely to his chest.
Shocked by Dons’ fast start, Blackburn began to make chances of their own, the first of which came after three minutes. But if Powell was disappointed with his early miss, then Ruben Rochina should hang his head in shame for his.
Jon Otsemobor’s weak back pass was never going to make it back to David Martin, and Fabio Nunes nipped in to square up the keeper. Spotting the support, he cut the ball back to Rochina, but Shaun Williams bravely threw himself in front of the shot before Adam Chicksen cleared the danger.
Rovers tried to take advantage of young Chicksen’s relative inexperience by attacking down their right flank at the full-back, perhaps not realising that the 20-year-old has played every game so far this season and has impressed on every occasion, prompting his manager to describe him as ‘top drawer’ after the game.
Despite pumping a few early crosses into the box, Rovers enjoyed little success against Gary MacKenzie, who continued his fine start to the season by heading away ball after ball against big striker Simon Vukcevic.
At the other end, Dons still looked menacing as Powell and Dean Bowditch looked like they had been given a new lease of life on the flanks as they went about terrorising the Rovers defence.
Or maybe it was that Dons had 11 men on the pitch and could generate an attacking threat for the first time since the Oldham game on the opening day.
The fans were out of their seats on the 10 minute mark when Powell’s cross slid just inches away from Charlie MacDonald’s outstretched foot, and then Bowditch’s at the far post too.
As Blackburn’s hold on the opening stages began to wane, Dons moved up another gear and looked in control, while Vukcevic and Rochina could only manage pot-shots from range.
Despite their confidence, Williams was nearly left with egg on his face when he ignored several thousand shouts of ‘man on’ from the crowd and was mugged by Edinho Junior.
The Blackburn man made it to the by-line, but Williams made up for his earlier error, forcing Junior off the ball, and winning a goal kick in the process.
And that was about as physical as the game got – referee Mick Russell barely had to blow his whistle during the encounter, but for a few offside decisions.
There were a few tasty looking challenges though, which had all of the home supporters drawing breath as they feared yet another dismissal, though they need not have worried.
A great team move almost led to Luke Chadwick opening the scoring 11 minutes before the break when another Powell cross this time found MacDonald. The striker spotted Chadwick and nodded the ball down to him, but his shot was well saved by Kean as the sides went in level at half time.
Dons’ dominance in the first half left Robinson a little disappointed with the scoreline at the interval, but he didn’t have to wait long before his men made the breakthrough.
Seven minutes into the second half, Otsemobor broke with pace down the right, out-muscling Marcus Olsson and making it to the by-line. Looking up, he picked out Chadwick in the penalty area, and he dummied his way around Scott Dann before firing home past a helpless Kean.
As the obligatory ‘Kean out’ chants resonated from the away end, Dons continued to put pressure on their Championship opponents, forcing them onto the backfoot and restricting them to counter-attacks.
Substitute David Goodwillie tried his arm from range which had Martin at full stretch, but the striker’s effort was just over. He’d get his reward later though. But not before Dons tightened their stranglehold on the game by doubling their advantage on 67 minutes.
Another Otsemobor break up the right first found Bowditch, and then Powell who let fly from the edge of the box. Keeper Kean did well to get down to it, but he couldn’t keep hold of the drive, simply palming it into the path of Chadwick who made light work of tapping home.
Despite the division gap between the sides, Blackburn offered little in the way of a fightback. They continued to struggle to hold on to possession and barely made the Dons defence work.
The partnership of MacKenzie and Williams had picked up where it left off last season as they dealt with the scraps Blackburn tried to attack with.
Bowditch had Dons fans leaping out of their seats, but landing somewhat frustrated when his long-range curling effort narrowly missed the upright with 15 minutes to go. There was only going to be one winner from there.
But Blackburn gave themselves a brief glimpse of light when Goodwillie was left unmarked in the six-yard box to head home Nunes’ cross from the left with eight minutes remaining.
And many could be forgiven for thinking that Dons would play with their backs to the wall for the remainder of time, but they would be mistaken.
Despite the goal, Blackburn hardly saw the ball late on as Dons confidently continued about their game, even seeing one shot cleared off the line in the 85th minute as Williams met Bowditch’s deep corner.
“It was comfortable,” said Robinson afterwards, and he was right. “It was a tremendous, professional performance. And now we can move on from here with tremendous mental strength and belief in ourselves.”
Thursday’s third round draw could see Dons take on one of the top clubs in the Premier League, but Robinson isn’t worried about their potential opponents, knowing his side have far more important matters to deal with as they return to League 1 action on Saturday against Carlisle.