Supersub Agard to the rescue as Dons survive scare to sink Maidstone in FA Cup

Substitute Kieran Agard scored twice within seven minutes of coming on to guide MK Dons into the third round of the FA Cup, as they survived a scare against Maidstone United.

Saturday, 2nd December 2017, 8:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th December 2017, 12:57 pm
Chuks Aneke battles for the ball during MK Dons' FA Cup clash with Maidstone United (Pictures: Jane Russell)

At half-time, the grim prospect of the Dons being knocked out of the competition by non-League opposition for the first time was very real after Magnus Okuonghae had given the National League side a shock lead.

But after Aidan Nesbitt had mercifully brought the hosts level, the game changed after Agard was introduced in the 63rd minute.

Within seconds, he struck with his first touch to give his side the lead for the first time and quickly added a second to make it five goals in his last four games - not bad for someone who couldn't buy one before then.

MK Dons v Maidstone

Now Dons fans can enjoy the draw on Monday night, hoping it brings a visit from one of the giants of English football or a big day out to somewhere like Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford.

Just not another trip to Gillingham or Shrewsbury, please.

Manager Robbie Neilson decided not to make sweeping changes from the line-up that threw away a half-time lead in the defeat at Doncaster last week.

The three alterations saw Gboly Ariyibi, Nesbitt and Ryan Seager replace Peter Pawlett, Alex Gilbey and Agard while, intriguingly, Maidstone didn't name a goalkeeper on their bench.

MK Dons v Maidstone

But if the home fans were hoping for a repeat of the whirlwind start their side produced at the Keepmoat, they were left disappointed with sloppy passing preventing any real momentum.

One player not affected by this malaise was Ariyibi, who forced his way through down the right before his shot from a narrow angle was deflected behind.

The upset then looked to be on the cards, as Maidstone took the lead in the 25th minute from a Zavon Hines corner the Dons couldn't clear.

It led to Jai Reason unleashing a fierce half-volley from the edge of the area that Lee Nicholls could only parry, with Okuonghae gleefully putting away the rebound.

MK Dons v Maidstone

Aneke shot narrowly wide as the hosts looked to lift their game following this shock to the system, but they almost had another to deal with as Delano Sam-Yorke whipped a shot over for the Stones.

Ariyibi then threatened again as his well-struck effort was beaten away by Maidstone 'keeper Lee Worgan after the winger had been picked out by Aneke's cut-back.

Hines then wasted a golden opportunity to double the visitors' lead in first-half stoppage time, as he blazed over after being found by Sam-Yorke.

Within 15 seconds of the restart, the Dons almost made him pay, as Aneke forced his way through only to be denied by Worgan's smothering save, with Seager's follow-up hitting the top of the bar.

MK Dons v Maidstone

The lively Sam-Yorke then volleyed just over in what was a breathless start to the second half that saw Worgan produce another good save to keep out Ed Upson's volley.

But the equaliser finally arrived on 54 minutes, as Ariyibi's cross ran through for Nesbitt, who took his time before shooting calmly across Worgan and into the bottom corner.

Three minutes later, the hosts were nearly in front, as another Ariyibi cross fell to Aneke, who was first denied by Worgan again before he sent his rebound from a narrow angle into the side netting.

But the turnaround was completed in the 64 minute, as Scott Goldbourne's cross was headed down by Aneke for Upson, whose volley was saved by Worgan into the path of Agard, who couldn't miss from a couple of yards.

It was a sensational introduction and there was soon more to come, as he struck again after being put through by Upson by producing a measured finished in off the post from the corner of the area.

There was little doubt about the outcome now, but Dons still added a fourth as Aneke played in Pawlett, who managed to force the ball in after Worgan had blocked his initial effort.

MK Dons v Maidstone

Match facts

MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Nicholls, Williams, Wootton, Ebanks-Landell (Walsh 70), Golbourne, Upson, McGrandles, Ariyibi, Aneke, Nesbitt (Pawlett 79), Seager (Agard 63)

Subs not used: Sietsma, Muirhead, Nombe, Thomas-Asante

Maidstone United (4-1-2-3): Worgan, Hare, Okuonghae, Finney, Anderson, Wynter, Lewis, Reason (Paxman 82), Sam-Yorke (Collins 68), Pigott, Hines (Loza 77)

Subs not used: Prestedge, Wraight, Muldoon, Richards

Referee: Martin Coy

Attendance: 4,804 (1,541 away)

MK Dons v Maidstone