MK Dons marked their 500th competitive game with a comfortable 2-0 victory over ten-man Northampton Town in the opening round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Goals from 19-year-old Patrick Bamford and 17-year-old Dele Alli were enough for the Dons, who cruised to victory at stadiummk. The men from MK1 rarely moved out of second gear on Tuesday night, as they strolled to their fourth win of the season and booked their place in Round 2 of the competition they won back in 2008.
As expected, Karl Robinson made a host of changes to the side which beat Sheffield United on the weekend with his most notable inclusion that of Deadline Day signing Danny Green. The Charlton Athletic winger, lining up against his former side just 24 hours after penning a one-month loan deal at stadiummk, took up a place on the right-hand side of an attacking trio alongside Alan Smith and fellow loanee Jason Banton.
And it was one of his new team-mates, Smith, who went close to opening the deadlock inside of five minutes but the former England striker wasn’t able to connect with Williams' beautifully weighted ball and Cobblers ‘keeper Matt Duke collected just inside his box.
Bamford then had a good opportunity to net what would have been his third goal in four games but the Chelsea loanee could only guide Lewington's cross onto the inside of the far post.
Despite dictating the tempo early on, Robinson’s men were given a scare just after the quarter-hour mark when Ishmel Demontagnac failed to beat McLoughlin with a tame shot.
On the rare occasion they pushed forward, Northampton were wasteful with their final product and had Chris Hackett’s cross on 32 minutes been a little more accurate, a wide-open Jacob Blyth could have caused the Dons problems at the back stick.
Aidy Boothroyd, though, had a little more to worry about than a poor cross minutes later as, after a wreckless tackle on Dele Alli by Demontagnac, the latter was shown a straight red card by referee Graham Horwood, with little protest from the visiting bench or support.
The Cobblers’ punishment could have been doubled from the resulting free-kick, taken by Williams, but Duke did well to get across his goal and make a strong diving save to his left.
Duke's opposite number, McLoughlin, was then called upon to get his body behind Darren Carter’s drilled effort to prevent a breakaway goal from the visitors before Bamford stung the palms of Duke with a fierce left-footer.
With the red card incident still fresh in the mind of the players, the game got a little heated as the interval approached, particularly down the left where an interesting battle was ensuing between the two captains, Lewington and Hackett.
That didn't deter Reeves, though, who tried to take matters into his own hands just before half-time by creating an opportunity on the edge of the box with a mazy run, only to see his shot palmed away by Duke, who was proving hard to beat in the Northampton goal.
After the break, it was Kay, fresh from his goal on the weekend, who was next to test Duke with a long-distance effort which whistled just over the bar. Carter then dragged a 20-yard shot wide of McLoughlin's post for the visitors.
The Dons 'keeper then did well to block Blyth's close-range effort a minute later, after the forward at beaten the home side's offside trap, while at the other end Lewington failed to beat Duke with a low drive.
Robinson's men, though, finally got the breakthrough they deserved on 52 minutes when Bamford ghosted into the Northampton penalty area and turned Banton's cross into the empty net. Banton did well down the left before picking out the Dons' 19-year-old striker, who couldn't miss from no more than 2 yards out.
Five minutes later it was 2-0, Alli doubling the hosts lead with a clinical finish by the penalty spot after some more skilful play down the right from Banton. The Crystal Palace man, after beating his marker, was able to pull the ball back for Alli, who cooly guided the ball past Duke for his first goal of the season.
Reeves could have added his name to the scoresheet with a left-footed shot on the hour as the Dons continued to pile on the pressure, before the former Southampton trainee went close to setting up Bamford for his second of the night - the 19-year-old inches away from his team-mates low cross.
Northampton Town and, in particular, Blyth would have been kicking themselves 15 minutes from the time when the striker spurned a glorious opportunity to pull one back after the Dons' near-neighbours were able to mount their first real attack of the half.
With the Dons in total control, Robinson took the opportunity to introduce his three substitutions late-on, one of which was 17-year-old Brendan Galloway. Galloway took up a position on the right-hand side of the Dons' attacking trio, meaning Banton switched to the left, and it could have proved to be a masterstroke if the latter's well-struck shot wasn't turned behind by the fingertips of Duke.
Northampton offered very little in the way of a comeback as the game drew to close and therefore the Dons were able to see out the remaining minutes and make sure of their place in Saturday morning's Second Round draw, which will take place live on Soccer AM.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): McLoughlin; Otsemobor, Kay, Williams (Galloway 83), Lewington; Reeves, Alli (Chadwick 70); Green (Baldock 78), Smith, Banton; Bamford.
Subs not used: Rasulo, Carruthers.
Goals: Bamford 53, Alli 58
Booked: Alli, Williams, Bamford
Sent off: None
Northampton Town: Duke, Amankwaah, Carter, Collins, Demontagnac, Hackett (c) (Emerton 64), Tozer, Deegan (Toney 85), Heath, Blyth, Harriott (Hooper 89).
Subs not used: Snedker (GK), Platt.
Booked: Tozer, Toney
Sent off: Demontagnac 34
Attendance: 4,299 (861 away)