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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 28 Nov 09 at 22:58 PM

REPORT: MK DONS 4 EXETER CITY 3

Another seven goals, another stunning comeback, but this time the right result as MK Dons booked a coveted place in the third round of the FA Cup.

Fresh from their 4-3 defeat here to Carlisle just four days previously, Paul Ince's men again gave the stadiummk punters their money's worth with a pulsating recovery from 3-1 down. Only this time they finished the job, as substitute Jermaine Easter headed his 11th goal of the season four minutes from time to break brave Grecian hearts.

A game short on first-half inspiration never looked likely to cause the drama that poured forth after the break - Sam Baldock jabbing home an Aaron Wilbraham flick-on to provide the highlight of the first period. But their hopes of booking a third round berth for the first time in four years were left hanging from a thread just after the hour mark when substitute Adam Stansfield added to a Barry Corr double to put Exeter on course for a remarkable win.

The Cowshed called for Easter - the Dons' leading scorer forced to the bench by the outstanding form of Baldock - and Ince obliged. Then came the fightback. Sam Baldock nudges the Dons into a first-half lead. Baldock scrambled home from Easter's knockdown after a Peter Leven long throw before Martin Devaney, on as a sub moments before, headed the equaliser with his very first touch. The game back in the balance and the crowd holding their breath, Ince's team could have been forgiven for settling for a replay after their midweek comeback was savagely punctured by Carlisle.

But they bravely pushed for the win and were rewarded when Easter soared to a Devaney cross to settle a wonderful tie. Ince will argue his side deserved their win, and, a 16-minute spell after half-time aside, they did enjoy the better of proceedings. But you couldn't help but feel for an Exeter side that must have been eyeing tomorrow's draw when they found themselves two goals to the good. Sam Baldock celebrates with Aaron Wilbraham.

They had competed well enough during the first half, but never looked likely to cause undue trouble to a Dons side adapting quickly to a new-look diamond midfield in the first half - Luke Chadwick in particular relishing in the pocket behind Baldock and Wilbraham.

Corr did have the ball in the net on nine minutes when he turned home a Richard Duffy cross-shot, only for the assistant's flag to deny him. But as they got to grips with the new system, the home side started to get bodies forward and when Danny Woodards, making his first start in three months after an ankle injury, chipped in a cross from the right, Leven's downward header was marginally off target.

David McCracken sent an instinctive header over after Wilbraham had headed on a Jason Puncheon corner, but from Wilbraham's next headed pass, Baldock nipped in behind Dan Seaborne to nudge his fifth goal in five games. Wilbraham should have had a penalty moments after that when Grecians skipper Matt Taylor bundled him over in the area, but you never imagined the Dons might need the cushion at the break. Luke Chadwick gets the better of Bertrand Cozic.

 Exeter's resurgence began within four minutes of the break from a source of familiar problems for the Dons. While the Grecians corner from the right was partially dealt with, the home side never truly cleared their lines and when Harley retrieved to cross from the left, Corr stole across 'keeper Willy Gueret to head his side level. Not content with that, Exeter took their momentum a step further when Bertrand Cozic waltzed unchallenged into the right side of the penalty area and pulled back for Corr again, who swept in despite the desperate efforts of Gueret and Woodards on the line.

Dons did their best to get off the ropes - Leven firing fractionally wide after being set up by the Chadwick on the edge of the box - but they were dealt a further blow on 66 minutes when McCracken failed to cut out a ball forward and Stansfield, on as a sub just two minutes previously, raced clear of Darren Powell to find Gueret's bottom-right-hand corner. Easter was introduced for the hard-working Wilbraham, lifting the crowd a notch, but it was Exeter boss Paul Tisdale's decision to introduce an extra defender in Troy Archibald-Henville that just invited the Dons on.

Leven hurled a throw in from the right, McCracken fought to win it and once Easter knocked it into the red-hot Baldock's vicinity the outcome was inevitable. Suddenly Exeter couldn't get out and Baldock, fires burning, almost made it a hat-trick with a stinging drive that Andy Marriott pushed just over. Devaney replaced Leven before Puncheon could take the corner and the on-loan Barnsley man barely broke stride as he ran into the box, locked on to the clearance and thumped back a bullet of a header that sailed into the top corner.

With the visitors more than a touch dazed, Dons always looked the likely winners from there and suddenly there were potential goals all over the park. Fittingly, the relentless Chadwick had a big role the winner, carrying Lewington's pass across the park before finding Devaney on the right. Easter was already on the move, timing his run and jump perfectly to meet a dream of a cross and guiding his header beyond the desperate Marriott.

MK Dons (4-1-2-1-2): Gueret; Woodards (Howell 87), Darren Powell, McCracken, Lewington (c); Gleeson; Puncheon, Leven (Devaney 74); Chadwick; Baldock, Wilbraham (Easter 69).
Subs not used: Johnson, Carrington, Searle, Morgan.
Goals: Baldock 35, 70, Devaney 75, Easter 86. Booked: Easter, Devaney.
Exeter City (4-3-3): Marriott; Duffy Archibald-Henville 66, Taylor (c), Seaborne, Golbourne; Cazic, Russell, Harley; Fleetwood (Stansfield 64), Corr (Dunne 78), Stewart.
Subs not used: Edwards, Logan, Sercombe, Jansson.
Goals: Corr 49, 54, Stansfield 66. Booked: Russell, Dunne.
Attendance: 4,867
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

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