Patrick Bamford scored in his final game for MK Dons to set up an FA Cup third round replay with Wigan after an incredible 3-3 draw at the DW Stadium.
Roger Espinoza’s piledriver fired Wigan into the lead after picking up Ben Reeves’ loose clearance, before Jordi Gomez looked to put the game to bed nine minutes later making it 2-0.
But a dramatic Reeves double on the brink of half time saw Dons pull level, and they looked go value for the lead, but Ali Al Habsi saved Shaun Williams’ penalty before Callum McManaman fired in what many felt would be the winner.
And with one of his final kicks of a football in MK Dons colours, Bamford poked in his last goal for the club, setting up a replay back at stadium:mk.
After losing Dale Jennings, Jordan Spence and Jason Banton, Karl Robinson saw Antony Kay and Dele Alli return to the starting line-up. Patrick Bamford started his final game for MK Dons, with his move to Derby County confirmed prior to kick off.
The holders were certainly taking the start of their defence seriously, with Uwe Rosler naming a team littered with names who were Premier League regulars last season.
And it was a strong start they made too, winning a series of corners in the opening 15 minutes, pressing Dons high up the field. James McArthur almost capitalised on a loose David Martin clearance, but blazed his shot over the top.
Dons’ chances were limited going forward, but Samir Carruthers and Ben Reeves both saw shots just over the top as Wigan smothered the visitors.
Although not a surprise, it was a moment of magic from Roger Espinoza who fired Wigan into the lead after 18 minutes. Battling back on the edge of his own box, Reeves could only clear as far as Espinoza around 30 yards out, and the Horduran blasted his left-footed strike into the top corner of Martin’s net, leaving the keeper with absolutely no chance.
It was 2-0 eight minutes later too, when Jordi Gomez was given too much time on the Wigan right, cut into the area and fired low past Martin, doubling their lead.
But without a recognised wide man in Jennings, Dons were forced to play a much more narrow game. Reeves was forced out wide on the right, and helped to broker a decent chance for himself, but he bent his effort wide of the mark, while Darren Potter also saw one high under pressure from Emerson Boyce, and Dele Alli hit one wide.
Dons were dealt another blow with 10 minutes to go in the first half, as Lee Hodson took a clattering challenge from James McClean, forcing the full back to come off with George Baldock replacing him.
The home side should have been three up with four minutes of the first half remaining, but after McManaman made light work of Baldock on the right, but with James McArthur unmarked in the middle, McManaman opted to shoot himself. Fortunately for Dons, Martin got a big hand to it, allowing Lewington to clear.
And Wigan were made to pay for it as Dons would sensationally pull level before the break, with Reeves making amends for his earlier mistake to bag a brace.
The goals were almost mirror images of each other. First, Carruthers and Baldock linked up well on the right flank to pull back for Reeves, hovering around the penalty spot. His left-footed shot bend around Ali Al Habsi to give Dons a lifeline.
And it got even better as in stoppage time, Bamford burst down the left, cut inside and found Reeves in the same spot, and the former Southampton man produced the same end result, incredibly equalising on the stroke of half time.
The quick-fire double certainly lit a fire under Karl Robinson’s side, and they started the second half brightly. They could even have taken the lead when Alli’ shot-come-cross was nearly poked in by the sliding Baldock at the far post.
And Dons were gifted an opportunity on the hour mark when they were awarded a penalty kick for McClean’s rough-handed tactics on Baldock as he raced on to Reeves’ ball wide. Shaun Williams, usually so reliable from the spot, watched on though as Ali Al Habsi dived to his right to keep it out.
The League 1 side were made to pay for the miss too, as just three minutes later Wigan were ahead again. Callum McManaman just about stayed onside to latch on to a long ball forwards, and kept his composure to smash it past Martin.
With Patrick Bamford set to leave the club after the final whistle, Robinson made the decision with 20 minutes remaining to test Daniel Powell as a striker. Powell and Brendan Galloway replaced Carruthers and the influential Alli as Dons switched to a 3-5-2, with Galloway and Baldock playing as wing-backs, and Powell up alongside Bamford.
And it would be the departing hero who would set up the replay with six minutes remaining. A deep Stephen Gleeson corner found Antony Kay, but his effort bounced and wormed its way through the crowd, and Bamford was clinical as ever, rolling the ball home to set up the replay.
Referee: Tony Harrington
Attendance: 6,960 (930)
Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi, Boyce, Perch, Barnett, Espinanza, McArthur, Gomez (McCann 46), McManaman, Holt (Fortune 59), McLean (Dicko 75), Beausejour
Subs not used: Pollitt, Fyvie, Redmond, Crainie
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Hodson (Baldock 35), Williams, Kay, Potter, Gleeson, Reeves, Carruthers (Galloway 70), Alli (Powell 70), Bamford
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Chadwick, Smith
Booked: Gomez, Alli, Williams