It was a game no-one wanted replayed, but the out come was exactly the same as Chesterfield booked their spot in the FA Cup third round once and for all with a 1-0 win over MK Dons.
There was certainly no ‘magic’ about the circumstances in which the game was scheduled, and even less out on the field as chances were few and far between.
There was an air of inevitable controversy surrounding what turned out to be the winner in the first half. While Eoin Doyle was played onside by Daniel Powell, questions could have been asked about whether Gary Roberts was when he fired home.
Really though, Dons showed little nous up front, with killer balls distinctly lacking and Tommy Lee’s gloves remaining relatively untouched.
Karl Robinson named his team well in advance of the game on Friday night - three days in advance in fact, with five changes from the defeat to Walsall. George Baldock, Danny Green, Mark Randall, Daniel Powell and Benik Afobe all came in, with the most notable absentees being Dele Alli and Antony Kay.
Armand Gnanduillet scored the winner the first time this fixture was played, and he thought he’d opened the scoring again after just seven minutes in his return to stadium:mk. But while his towering header was well placed into the corner, out of David Martin’s reach, he was deemed offside and his effort was chalked out.
The football on display from both sides seemed to reflect the abject apathy for the fixture. There wasn’t a lot of fire shown from either side, with only half chances to speak of, with little meat in the midfield to get the fans into voice.
Dons probably shaded the chances in the opening half hour, despite Gnanduillet’s earlier disallowed effort. Benik Afobe blasted one into the side netting, while Danny Green fizzed one just over the bar from the edge of the box.
Chesterfield though would go in at the break leading, but there was an air of controversy about the goal. While Doyle was played onside by Daniel Powell, Gary Roberts looked distinctly off when he was then played through. But with no flag, Roberts did his duty by rolling home from eight yards.
Robinson clearly wasn’t happy with the way his side were performing, and replaced Mark Randall at the interval, bringing on Ben Reeves as Dons switched to a lesser spotted 4-4-2, with Powell joining Afobe up front. And his presence immediately lifted the home side as they played a much more positive way.
But chances were still hard to come by. Dons, while seeing much more of the ball, couldn’t break in as the final ball lacked every time. Even with the introduction of Will Grigg and Samir Carruthers, Tommy Lee barely ma a save all night.
In the end, justice was probably served as Chesterfield made it through - it’s just a shame circumstance took precedence.
Referee: Stephen Martin
MK Dons: Martin, Baldock, McFadzean, Spence, Lewington, Potter, Randall (Reeves 45), Green (Carruthers 60), Powell (Grigg 60), Bowditch, Afobe
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Hodson, Flanagan, Alli
Chesterfield: Lee, Darikwa, Hird, Morsy, Gnandulliet, Roberts, Clucas, Humphreys, Raglan, Doyle, Boco
Subs not used: Wright, Jones, Gardner, O’Shea, Talbot, Ariyibi
Booked: Bowditch, Gnanduillet, Morsy, Reeves, Carruthers