Replay required as Dons narrowly avoid FA Cup upset against Stevenage

MK Dons 2-2 Stevenage

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 5:03 pm

MK Dons avoided an FA Cup upset but will travel to Stevenage for a first round replay after drawing 2-2

Dons almost suffered an FA Cup upset when two goals in three minutes from League Two outfit Stevenage threatened to dump them out of the competition in the first round.

Leading through Harry Darling’s 34th minute header, Dons looked in cruise control in the second half until Brad Barry levelled for the visitors with 20 minutes remaining. In a game void of quality from either side, Stevenage stunned even their own supporters when they took the lead three minutes later, Elliot List finishing past Andrew Fisher.

The lead would last just three minutes though as Max Watters converted his third goal in as many games for Dons to send the tie to a replay.

With so many of the squad out after two positive Covid-19 tests and isolation, Liam Manning played those available to him, and it meant just four changes from the side which started last week’s 4-1 win over Crewe Alexandra. Aden Baldwin, Brooklyn Ilunga, Troy Parrott and Max Watters came in for Daniel Harvie, Peter Kioso, David Kasumu and Mo Eisa, who were all unavailable

The bench was full of youth, including 15-year-old Oakgrove student Callum Tripp.

Despite the team on the field very closely resembling Dons’ first choice, there was very little between the sides in the opening exchanges of what was a very poor first half on the whole.

Brad Barry missed a golden opportunity for the visitors when Stevenage caught Dons on the counter-attack midway through the first half, but he fired Elliot Osbourne’s cross wide of the post.

Dons were struggling to really give Stevenage keeper Joseph Anang anything to be concerned about, but Harry Darling’s 34th minute header sailed into the top corner from Josh McEachran’s cross to give the home side the lead.

The second half was played at a really pedestrian pace for the first 20 minutes as Dons looked content to hem Stevenage into their own half without really forcing the issue. Scott Twine had two efforts in quick succession blocked out by the Stevenage defence, while Aden Baldwin’s cross from the right bounced off the top of the bar on it’s way out of play.

Stevenage though would stun Dons with two goals in three minutes and threaten an upset. Both goals came from attacks down the right, the first cross picking out Barry to equalise with 20 minutes to go before Elliot List then finished off a brilliant counter-attack to give the League Two side the lead.

Their advantage would last just three minutes though, as Max Watters got his third goal in as many games, firing in O’Riley’s lofted pass.

The game threatened to spark into life after that, with Andrew Fisher making a great stop to deny Jake Reeves from range, but the game fizzled out not long after, booking themselves into a replay at Stevenage.

Referee: Simon Mather

Attendance: 2,860 (322)

MK Dons: Fisher, Lewington, O’Hora, Darling, Baldwin, Ilunga, McEachran, O’Riley, Twine (Brown 87), Parrott, Watters

Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Sandford, Robson, Johnson, Gyamfi, Tripp

Stevenage: Anang, James-Wildon, Coker (Melbourne 67), Reeves, Cuthbert, List, Taylor, Osbourne (Reid 67), Vancooten, Read (Lines 90), Barry

Subs not used: Smith, Prosser, Norris, Andrade, Smith, Marshall

Booked: Baldwin