MK Dons brought their away day losing streak to an end at Stevenage, but the two sides will have to do it all over again for a place in the second round of the FA Cup.
Having lost their previous seven games in all competitions away from stadiummk, Karl Robinson's Dons would have been wary of a potential slip-up against League 2 opposition in the world's most famous cup competition. But they dug in for a determined clean sheet against Graham Westley's revved-up hosts and might have even progressed on the day had they made the most of an excellent spell just after half-time. As it is, they remain in Sunday's draw and will be aware of what awaits them when they host Stevenage in the replay in around ten days' time.
If Westley's matchday programme notes, in which he claimed the Dons would underestimate his Conference champions, were intended to fire his charges up, it looked to have had the desired effect in the opening few minutes as they came out with plenty of intent.
Dons keeper David Martin, one of three changes from the midweek win over Yeovil, was called into action as early as the fifth minute - saving well with his feet to deny Stacy Long after good work from Scott Laird down the left. The hosts aggressively sought a weakness in the Dons backline, but were given a stark warning that their visitors would not be intimidated when Mathias Kouo-Doumbé powered through Michael Bostwick on the edge of his own penalty area.
It seemed to lift Robinson's team and they quickly took the early sting out of the hosts, stringing passes together through midfield, getting the returning Angelo Balanta on the ball and testing Stevenage's up-and-at-'em approach by forcing them into plenty of running. Midfielder Peter Leven, in a rich vein of form following three goals in his last three games, looked as likely as anyone to force a breakthrough - seeing a volleyed effort blocked by Bostwick on 21 minutes and then driving just over the crossbar after receiving Stephen Gleeson's quick free-kick 30 yards out.
Westley realised his side's influence was waning and regulars to the Lamex Stadium would not have been surprised to see Long in need of treatment halfway through the half, allowing his manager to dish out important instructions to the rest of his team. The Dons were still looking the more likely though and had Sam Baldock managed to hold off Mark Roberts a little longer after a neat exchange with Lewis Guy, the young striker might have been able to trouble Chris Day.
Instead, parity would not be breached before half-time, though Stevenage front-man Ben May might have done better with a header from Lawrie Wilson's cross just before the whistle. Safely established in the game without any early setbacks, the Dons looked set to cut loose after half-time as they began to cut through the home defence with real threat. Angelo Balanta in action on his return from suspension. &nbsp; First Guy, set loose by Mark Carrington down the right, chipped a cross in from the right that Peter Leven flicked on, but Baldock's header, though beyond Day, lacked power and was cleared off the line by Jon Ashton.
Baldock almost turned provider on 58 minutes, racing into the left channel onto Dean Lewington's pass and crossing dangerously for Guy, but Scott Laird got a crucial foot in to prevent the little forward breaking the deadlock. Balanta was the next to test the home defence, scooting past two defenders on the left before his low cross was stabbed straight at Day by Baldock. Stevenage, to their credit, started to stem the tide, but rather than steadying the ship they simply started to give as good as they got and the cup tie flew wide open.
John Mousinho, fresh from his brace against Barnet in midweek, stretched an unsighted Martin on 67 minutes and Jemal Johnson, on as a sub a couple of minutes later, dragged a decent effort just wide after raiding in from the right flank. Luke Chadwick might have done better after making space for himself in front of goal 15 minutes from the end, but could not find the target from just outside the area. And as time ticked away and the darkness began to fall on Broadhall Way, a replay became inevitable, leaving both sides in Sunday's second round draw and ready to fight it out another day.
Stevenage (4-4-1-1): Day; Henry, Ashton, Roberts (c), Laird; O'Shea, Long (Odubade 60), Bostwick, Wilson (Sinclair 59); Mousinho; May (Dixon 83).
Subs not used: Bayes, Charles, Griffin, Bridges.
Booked: Laird, Bostwick.
MK Dons (4-4-1-1): Martin; Gleeson, Woodards, Kouo-Doumbé, Lewington (c); Chadwick, Carrington, Leven, Balanta; Guy (Johnson 69); Baldock.
Subs not used: Hamann, Chicksen, Powell.
Referee: Rob Lewis (Shropshire)