MK Dons held Championship side Sheffield Wednesday to a goalless draw in an FA Cup with Budweiser clash that lacked the magic of the world’s most famous competition.
The two sides will battle it out once more in a replay at stadiummk to see who will go through to the Fourth Round of the Cup.
Lacking the inspiring story that is often produced in the Third Round, there were few chances created at either end in the first half, but the Dons had chances to win the tie late in the second half with Shaun Williams in particular seeing a shot turned wide and a hit the post as the game came to a close.
The Dons though earned their right to have one more shot at making it into the Fourth Round for the first time in their history.
Injury-riddled Dons made three changes to the side that beat Notts County in midweek with Alan Smith, Zeli Ismail and Mathias Kouo-Doumbe all starting in place of the injured Dean Bowditch and Daniel
Powell while Angelo Balanta returned to QPR following the completion of his loan.
The depleted Dons showed their frail numbers with only Ian McLoughlin and Gary MacKenzie on the bench as recognised first team players while Academy youngsters Dele Alli, Brendan Galloway and Giorgio Rasulo completed a substitute line-up of five.
Wednesday came into the game with relegation worries in the Championship hanging over them but knowing a positive result in the Cup could kick-start some momentum.
Ryan Lowe and Darren Potter both started against their former side but it was the ex-Don Miguel Llera, now in the blue and white of Sheffield Wednesday, who created the first chance of the game when his
free-kick found Mamady Sidibe whose header rose over the bar.
Wednesday dominated the early phases, but the Dons showed plenty of positive signs as they tried to counteract the style of their hosts by playing on the floor. There was a half-hearted appeal for a penalty for the Dons in the 18th minute when Lowe was through on goal and tangled with Stephen Bywater but referee Michael Oliver was unmoved.
The Dons appeared to be winning the battle in midfield as Potter linked up well with Smith to cause problems through the middle for the hosts, but opportunities in the box were at a premium.
Mathias Kouo-Doumbe was left to chase his tail as Lewis Buxton picked up the ball on the left wing and weaved inside to a central position as the defender desperately tried to halt his progress. As Buxton reached the edge of the box he squeezed a pass to Michial Antonio with the low shot finding the arms of Martin.
The Dons were drawn on the physical battle with Wednesday which at times hindered their own play as they failed to push men forward when Zeli Ismail broke free down the right only for his delicious cross not to be followed up in the box.
A lengthy delay to the game ensued when a clash of heads involving Antony Kay resulted in an extended treatment period for the defender. The re-start though brought a chance for the Dons though as Smith tried to feed Lowe through only for Martin Taylor to intercept.
Wednesday quickly turned the screw on the Dons and piled on the pressure when an Antonio long throw was met by Llera and well-caught by Martin before a brave headed clearance from Kay prevented Sidibe from finding the net at the near post.
When the Dons were presented with chances they failed to make the most of them as a Shaun Williams free-kick was deflected wide and the resulting corner quickly cleared by Wednesday.
The visitors begun the second half brightly and were keen to commit players forward with Adam Chicksen
and Lewington both advancing down the left-hand side though with little reward.
Dave Jones opted for his first change of the game ten minutes into the re-start as Sidibe was hauled off and replaced by Gary Madine, who proved to be a huge threat in League 1 last season.
Once more the Dons were guilty of failing to make the most of their opportunities when a free-kick into the box from Ryan Harley was played to Smith but the forward had strolled into an offside position as he collected the ball.
The Hillsborough supporters were growing increasingly frustrated as their side’s inability to break the Dons’ backline, but Kay and Williams were proving to be tough opposition for the hosts.
With just over 20 minutes remaining Dons introduced 16-year-old Dele Alli to midfield while the lightening pace of Jermaine Johnson was added to the Wednesday team.
Robinson also brought on Gary MacKenzie as the defender continued to step up his rehabilitation after three months out on the sidelines with a hip injury.
The restlessness from the stands fed into the Wednesday team as they began to look shaky at the back with Harley seeing a long-range drive deflected out for a corner.
When Lewington gave away a foul near the corner flag it offered Wednesday the chance to get the ball into the box and work on their aerial threat, but Llera’s free-kick was excellently headed away at the near post by Potter.
With time running out both sides stepped up their hunt for a goal as Rhys McCabe’s free-kick was collected by Martin before Madine and Llera could produce a telling touch. The Dons then went straight up the other end where Harley’s shot was deflected over the bar and a beautiful shot from distance from Williams was pushed wide.
Williams, who had been pushed into midfield to accommodate MacKenzie in defence, then watched as his left-footed low shot came back off the upright with five minutes remaining.
However, the deadlock remained unlocked as both sides went into the Fourth Round draw with it all to play for.
Sheffield Wednesday: Bywater, Buxton, Taylor (c), Antonio, Maguire (Johnson 68), Mattock, McCabe (Semedo 87), Sidibe (Madine 55), Prutton, Llera.
Subs: Davies, Johnson, O’Grady, Corry.
MK Dons: Martin; Kouo-Doumbe, Kay, Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Harley; Ismail (Alli 67), Smith (MacKenzie 71), Chicksen; Lowe (Rasulo 90).
Subs: McLoughlin, Galloway.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Attendance: 11, 463 (1,185 away)