Dons dumped out of the FA Cup by Stevenage

Stevenage 2-1 MK Dons (AET)

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 10:29 pm

MK Dons were dumped out of the FA Cup by Stevenge on Tuesday night

Nine-man MK Dons went out of the FA Cup after a Luke Norris penalty in the last minute of extra time at the Lamex Stadium saw Stevenage book their spot in the second round.

In a game low on quality, Harry Darling gave Dons the lead on 36 minutes when he bobbled home a corner, but the bizarre sending off of Josh Martin on the stroke of half-time altered the game completely. Jamie Reid was the thorn in Dons’ side all evening, and got the hosts level on the hour mark and missed a handful of chances before the final whistle to put the game out of reach.

With penalties looming after an uneventful extra time period, Darling was adjudged to have fouled Elliott List in the 119th minute, earning him his marching orders, and allowing Norris to fire in from the spot to send managerless Stevenage to Yeovil in the second round.

Following their comfortable 4-1 win over Cambridge United on Saturday, Liam Manning could afford to make six changes to his side for the FA Cup replay, including handing a rest to both goal-scorers Scott Twine and Max Watters.

Much like in the original tie though, the first half was a hard watch, with the difference a Harry Darling goal to put Dons in front.

Never finding their footing at the Lamex in the first 45 minutes, Dons looked wobbly at the back, especially susceptible to Elliott List and Jamie Reid as they looked to run at the Dons defence, but there was precious little for Andrew Fisher to worry about other than clearing his lines.

Dons could only really calve themselves half chances, with Ethan Robson and Mo Eisa bobbling efforts towards keeper Adam Smith before they got the opener on 36 minutes.

Having flicked a neat header into the net in the first game around the same time, there was nothing as elegant this time for Darling, with the ball bouncing off his side as it slipped past Smith to give Dons the lead.

The goal did little to alter the course of the game in the run up to half time, but when Josh Martin and Bruno Andrade innocuously collided in midfield, card-happy referee Alan Young – who had already booked three Dons players – took no time to deliberate before reducing Dons to 10 men, sending off the Norwich loanee in first half stoppage time.

Reduced in number, Dons were backs to the wall for much of the second period and almost welcomed Stevenage to force the issue. Jamie Reid continued to be the main source of Stevenage’s threats, and finally got his reward on 61 minutes when he headed past Fisher to draw level.

He then sent three headers wide of the mark as Dons struggled to get anything to click in the attacking third. Troy Parrott, Max Watters and Scott Twine were all called upon from the bench for Liam Manning’s side.

The refereeing performance of Alan Young was bordering on laughable at times, and only came under fire further when he denied Dons a late penalty after a clear handball went unspotted.

It meant the tie would go into extra time and it looked as though it was destined for penalties until one was awarded at the very death of time. Darling was adjudged to have tripped List as he bore down on goal, earning himself a second booking as Dons were reduced to nine men, but critically allowing Luke Norris to convert from the spot to send Stevenage into the second round.

Referee: Alan Young

Attendance: 1,876 (336)

Stevenage: Smith, James-Wildin, Coker, Reeves, Cuthbert (Vancooten 106), List, Taylor (Osbourne 113), Andrade (Norris 81), Lines (Melbourne 60), Reid

Subs not used: Anang, J Smith, Marshall, Townsend-West, Barry

MK Dons: Fisher, O’Hora, Darling, Baldwin, Watson (Parrott 46), Harvie, McEachran (Twine 78), Robson (Kasumu 66), Martin, Boateng, Eisa (Watters 78)

Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Lewington, Twine, Ilunga, Watters

Booked: Darling, Robson, Boateng, Taylor, Harvie, Kasumu, Baldwin, Smith

Sent off: Martin, Darling