REPORT: Newport 2-3 MK Dons: Dons complete a remarkable comeback
MK Dons completed a remarkable second half comeback to beat Newport County 3-2 book a spot in the second round of the EFL Cup.
In a side packed with inexperience and teenagers, it was of no surprise when Dons found themselves 2-0 down to the League 2 side after 55 minutes, courtesy of goals from Marlon Jackson and a Mark Randall penalty.
But introducing Dean Bowditch and Daniel Powell got the visitors back into the affair, with Bowditch converting a penalty to give Karl Robinson’s side hope.
Ben Tilney then rattled home a sensational equaliser from range, and from there, there was only going to be one winner, and Bowditch’s second of the night coming as the clock ticked over to 90 minutes, was a dagger to Newport as Dons booked their spot in the second round.
Dons boss Robinson stuck to his word from Saturday and made 11 changes to his starting line-up, with the inclusion of three summer signings: goalkeeper Lee Nicholls and defenders Scott Wootton and George B Williams. Otherwise, it was a very young squad, with an average age of just 19 for the starting 11.
Newport on the other hand made just one change from the side which lost 3-2 to Mansfield in their League 2 opener, and fielded former Dons midfielder Mark Randall.
Prior to kick off, there was more focus on the mystery man stood alongside manager Karl Robinson, believed to be Bristol City striker Kieran Agard, who Dons have been heavily linked to in recent weeks.
The young Dons made a shaky start, and it was very much the home side on the front foot. The light-weight midfield of David Kasumu and Andrew Osei-Bonsu were being run through fairly easily by early substitution Ben Tozer and Randall, but the best chance of the game came from defender Darren Jones, who somehow put his 13th minute header wide of Lee Nicholls’ upright.
Scott Wootton, making his first appearance since signing for Dons, was calling all the shots as the visitors tried to get into the game, and he was having to mop up a lot of crosses as Newport aimed to capitalise on the inexperience of the full-backs Ben Tilney and GB Williams.
Dons were given glimpses of the attacking third, but there were chances for Giorgio Rasulo and Brandon Thomas-Asante, but neither could hit the target.
Newport’s experience eventually told on the half hour mark when another Newport attack down the left-hand side, with Sean Rigg and Scot Bennett before pulling the ball back to the penalty spot where Wootton found himself doubled up, and while he followed the run of Rigg, the ball made it to Marlon Jackson to wrapped the ball home.
They could have doubled their advantage five minutes later when once more an attack down the left allowed Jamie Turley a chance for a free header at the far post, but somehow he managed to miss it completely, letting Dons off the hook.
As the half neared the end though, Kabongo Tshimanga’s powerful run showed what he’s capable of, but ran out of support as he drove towards the penalty area, only for Day to deny Connor Furlong as the ball worked it’s way across the face of goal.
The visitors made a positive start to the second half too, with Brandon Thomas-Asante rattling a brilliant shot on the turn just wide of the upright, but a cruelly awarded penalty would see the young Dons trail. Newport poured forward once more, but the ball flicked up and caught GB Williams on the hand, leaving referee Oliver Langford no choice but to award the penalty. And Randall made no mistakes in placing the ball neatly into the corner of the net past Nicholls, who guessed the right way.
With an hour played, Robinson introduced the experienced heads of Dean Bowditch and Daniel Powell, but it was the former who made an almost instant impact - just three minutes - to bring Dons back into the fray. Exchanging a couple of quick passes with Tshimanga, Bowditch burst into the area, but was pulled down by Scot Bennett, with Langford pointing to the spot for the second time. Bowditch stepped up to rattle home the penalty, straight down the middle with Day offered no chance.
And barely seven minutes later, Dons were remarkably level. Tilney, picking the ball up deep, surged forwards before unleashing an unstoppable strike past Day to equalise.
Now back on terms, Dons looked the more likely to go on and win the game. GB Williams had a couple of good chances from headers which he couldn’t quite convert, but at the other end, Turley missed a sitter when his strike from close range thumped the bottom of the post.
But with just a minute on the clock, Dons’ completed a remarkable turnaround when Bowditch bend home his second of the night, curling past Day from the edge of the box after more solid work from Thomas-Asante found him in the middle, to hand down Newport’s second 3-2 defeat in a row.
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 1,402 (169)
Newport County: Day, Barnum-Bobb, Butler, Jones, Turley, Labadie, Compton (Tozer 4), Randall, M Jackson (Myrie-Williams 87), Bennett, Rigg (Green 74)
Subs not used: Bittner, Bignot, Sheehan, Owen-Evans
MK Dons: Nicholls, Wootton, GB Williams, Jackson, Tinley, Kasumu (Bowditch 61), Furlong (Powell 61), Thomas-Asante, Osei-Bonsu, Rasulo, Tshimanga (GC Williams 80)
Subs not used: Upson, GC Williams, Downing, Burns, Nombe