MK Dons’ epic FA Cup with Budweiser adventure came to an end with a 3-1 home defeat to Barnsley.
The Tykes were put in the driving seat when early goals from Chris Dagnall and Marlon Harewood knocked the Dons for six. However, a much-improved second half performance from the Dons saw a terrific individual goal from Dean Bowditch saw the host re-inspired.
The Dons pushed in the late stages to pull the score to 2-2 with Alan Smith and Shaun Williams forcing saves from Luke Steele. But a late blow came when Dagnall bagged a second and Smith saw red in injury time.
Robinson made just one change to the team which drew with Doncaster in midweek as cup-tied Izale McLeod made way for lone-striker Alan Smith.
The FA Cup had produced an incredible story for the Dons – having beaten non-League, League Two, Championship and Premier League opponents to reach the fifth round – and with the last eight in sight the Dons had to make the most of their home advantage.
However, was a difficult start for the Dons as a goal-kick allowed the Tykes to launch a long ball over the top of the defence, and Dagnall made the most of the space afforded to him as he weaved through Shaun Williams and Gary MacKenzie to fire a low shot into the bottom corner.
The early blow could have gone one of two ways for the Dons, and fortunately they used the Barnsley advantage to inspire them into action with some good football allowing Dean Bowditch to get a low curling effort testing Luke Steele soon after.
The pace of Dagnall was a danger as the striker raced through the back four, beating the offside trap in the process, but this time blazed his shot over.
Barnsley, whose fortunes in the Championship have turned lately with four wins and a draw in their last five games, looked like a team full of confidence. Going forward they were a constant threat and when Dean Lewington allowed the ball to run through Scott Wiseman broke and the Dons were caught in disarray.
Harewood found space in the box and as Wiseman pulled the ball back from the byline the former West Ham striker fired beyond the reach of Martin.
The Dons shook up their style slightly, knowing that sometimes the passing game needs to be put to the side when an opening comes, and when the half-hour mark hit Lewington turned defence into attack with an excellent long ball up field to Smith. The striker’s nod on to Daniel Powell create a route through to goal, only for a superb challenge by the recovering Barnsley defender to end the attack.
Barnsley were on the front foot with the hosts struggling to find their rhythm and their confidence noticeably knocked due to the deficit.
The visitors were sharp, quick to press and refused to allow the Dons time on the ball and by doing so the chances created were kept to a premium.
The half-time interval offered Robinson to address the game place and the re-start saw the introduction of Adam Chicksen in place of Ryan Harley. It meant Chicksen slotted-in at left-back and Lewington partnered MacKenzie while Williams moved into midfield with Darren Potter.
Barnsley also opted for a change in personnel as goal scorer Harewood made way for Jason Scotland.
The Dons had fire in their belly as Chicksen injected some power and pace, while Chadwick saw a shot from the edge of the box deflected in the early stages,
The match itself was disrupted for a lengthy period when a clash of heads between Chicksen and Kelvin Etuhu resulted in the latter being treated on the pitch for six minutes on the pitch before being stretchered off and replaced by Jim O’Brien.
With a lull in the game, Bowditch injected the magic that had been desperately lacking from the Dons as he stole the ball in midfield and raced free, showing a clean pair of heels to the Tykes. The forward showed tremendous desire as he reached the edge of the box and with only Luke Steele to beat he picked out his spot in the back of the net.
The celebration from Robinson on the bench was one of passion as he encouraged the Dons supporters to get behind their team.
Momentum was swelling with the Dons, a free-kick a yard outside the box and Williams struck it sweetly with power, yet it lifted inches too high as it flew over the bar.
Unfortunately for the Dons they lost their goal scorer Bowditch to injury just six minutes later, forcing Robinson into his second substitute of the match.
At the opposite end the tricky David Perkins weaved his way through the Dons defence to fire a cross into the box which Lewington stabbed away and Dagnall turned the ball wide at the near post.
The Dons were pilling on the pressure to find an equaliser and when the Barnsley defence could only clear a Williams corner as far as Potter, who was on the right-hand side of the box, the Dons had a second stab at goal.
Potter dinked the ball back into and only an excellent save from Steele could deny Smith a goal as the header was tipped over the bar.
Smith was battling hard and when he won a free-kick some 25-yard out the Dons were presented with another opportunity. An excellent dead-ball shot from Williams forced Steele into a nervous fumble at the near post, and from the resulting corner Smith watched a shot blaze over the ball.
Barnsley, though, should have all but wrapped up the game in the 85th minute when Scotland picked up a loose ball in midfield and was presented with acres of space, only for the former Swansea forward to shoot well-wide.
As injury time was announced the Dons were hoping to find the equaliser they needed, and as 12 minutes appeared on the board they would have believed they had enough time.
However, when Dagnall breached the Dons defence all too easily, beating the offside trap in the process there only seemed to be one outcome. The striker had only Martin to beat and the Dons keeper had little chance as he was rounded and the ball was turned into the bottom right corner.
The Dons’ woes were worsened in the final stages when an aerial challenge by Smith on Rory Delap was deemed violent conduct and a red card was immediately shown by referee Michael Jones.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Otsemobor, MacKenzie, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Harley (Chicksen 46); Powell, Chadwick, Bowditch (Lines 68); Smith.
Subs not used: Kouo-Doumbe, Flanagan, Alli, Galloway, Rasulo.
Booked: Chadwick, Williams
Sent-off: Smith 90
Goal: Bowditch 62
Barnsley: Steele (c), Wiseman, Cranie, Kennedy, Golbourne, Hassell (Delap 70), Perkins, Etuhu (O'Brien 58), Mellis, Dagnall, Harewood (Scotland 46).
Subs not used: Alnwick (GK), Foster, Cywka, Rose.
Goals: Dagnall 3, Harewood 19
Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)
Attendance: 14,475 (3,702 away)
Goal-Don Goal times: 1st goal - 2.23; 2nd goal - 18.03; 3rd goal 61.44; 4th goal - 90.00