Manning relieved to still be in the FA Cup after quick-fire Stevenage goals

MK Dons 2-2 Stevenage

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 6:45 pm

Liam Manning was relieved to still be in the FA Cup after his side allowed Stevenage to score twice in two minutes to overturn their first half advantage.

Liam Manning was relieved to avoid exiting the FA Cup in his first outing in the competition as a manager but was disappointed his side allowed Stevenage a way back into the game as the sides shared a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Two goals in three minutes, from Brad Barry (70) and Elliot List (73), saw the League Two side cancel out Harry Darling’s 34th minute opener, before Max Watters sent the tie to a replay with 14 minutes remaining with his third goal in as many games for Dons.

There were also draws for Wycombe, who were held by Harltepool, Ipswich Town who drew with Oldham, and Dons’ next opponents Cambridge United, who shared the spoils with Northampton, Manning said he was relieved to avoid the indignity of a first round exit to lower league opposition but said his side had to put the game to bed after taking the lead.

“I’ve been told some of the other results, and there are a few surprises across the board,” he said. “That’s the beauty of the FA Cup.

“It was almost no win for us, and no lose for them going into the game. I have to take my hat off to Stevenage but when you go 1-0 up, you have to make sure the game finishes like that and you don’t let them back in.

“I was really excited by the team we put out and for 90 per cent of the game I was pleased, it was just that crazy ten minute period we let them back in. The guys trained really well this week, in good spirits and for most of the game they executed our plan, but at 1-0 up, we have to see the game out.”

On the game, he said: “The first half was OK, we had period where we controlled it. I was actually really pleased with the first 20 minutes of the second half – I made a tweak which I felt helped, the guys delivered it quite well. We had a lot more possession around the edge of their box, and perhaps we weren’t brave enough to take risks.

“But then we didn’t deal with their changes, they changed their system and within five minutes we were 2-1 down. It went from total control and being on top, five minutes later we gave away some poor goals and were chasing.

“It’s a feeling of frustration but one where we’re a little relieved to still be in it.”