MK Dons bow out of the Papa John’s Trophy after suffering a 4-1 defeat within the Round of 16 stage.
Dean Lewington made seven changes to the MK Dons XI, which featured Jamie Cumming, Jack Tucker, Louie Barry and Dawson Devoy as the only holdovers from Saturday.
Joey Barton’s men got the game underway, though it was Dean Lewington’s MK Dons who had the first opportunity of the night. Bradley Johnson played a first-time ball towards Will Grigg at the back-post, but a last-ditch sliding challenge prevented the forward’s close-range attempt.
A great chance went begging for Bristol Rovers in the seventh minute. A piece of attacking play had the Gas penetrate Dons’ defence, this allowed the ball to be presented just in front of Collins, who had scuffed his point-blank shot wide of the mark.
Aaron Collins’ recent miss left him injured - the number ten was forced to leave the field early.
Barry worked hard out on the left wing, which granted Robson the opportunity to find Grigg in the box. The number nine played the ball into Matt Smith’s feet and although the midfielder did well to turn away from his defender, there wasn’t enough time for him to get a shot off.
Bristol Rovers had the ball in the back of the net 17 minutes into the fixture, however, the goal was disallowed due to an offside offence.
Few chances were created since the home sides near miss in the opening stages of the clash. MK Dons were still yet to test opposition’s goalkeeper Jaakkola between the sticks.
Bristol Rovers broke the deadlock on the 32-minute mark. Luca Hoole’s header picked out the corner of the net, which left Jamie Cumming no hope to prevent it. 1-0
The Fourth Official signalled for a further five minutes to be played at the end of the first half.
Bradley Johnson was the first name in the book after his late challenge brought down McCormick. The Gas used the set-piece to deliver an in-swinging ball, which was headed away by Oyegoke.
An unchanged MK Dons got the game back underway as they looked to break down Bristol Rover’s one-goal advantage.
Bradley Johnson lined a long-range strike early on, which forced Jaakkola to make a save down to his right to avoid the ball from reaching the bottom-corner of the net.
The home side doubled their lead nine minutes after the interval. John Marquis tapped the ball home after a pass through the box located the Gas’ number nine at the back-post. 2-0
Both Matt Smith and Louie Barry made way for Matt Dennis and Conor Grant respectively within the 64 minute.
Bristol Rovers then made it three 66 minutes into the match. John Marquis was played through the two MK Dons centre-halves and struck the ball past Cumming to claim his brace. 3-0
Although the Dons had a mountain to climb, things were made worse when Harvie Saunders was left enough space to finish on the half-volley, which increased the Gas’ advantage to 4-0 with 20 minutes left of play.
MK Dons’ hope to remain within the Papa John’s Trophy seemed all but lost as the game entered its final stages.
The Dons were awarded with a penalty after Mo Eisa was brought down by player, who was then sent off for the offence caused.
Eisa stepped up to take the spot-kick and sent the Gas’ keeper the wrong way. This granted the travelling side with a consolation goal at the least with ten minutes left on the stopwatch to create something more. 4-1
Dean Lewington’s team tried to take advantage against the ten-men Bristol Rovers in the latter stages of the game, however, the mountain they had left to climb seemed too great to keep their Papa John’s Trophy hopes alive.
MK Dons: Cumming, Tucker, Smith (Grant 64), Robson, Grigg (Eisa 69), Oyegoke, Johnson, Barry (Dennis 64), Lawrence, Devoy, Jules
Subs: Ravizzoli, Kemp, Harvie, Ilunga
Goals: Eisa 80
Yellow Cards: Johnson 45+2
Bristol Rovers: Jaakkola, Connolly, Gordon (Kilgour 68), Marquis, Collins (Coburn 13) (Sinclair 68), Rossiter (C) (Coutts 45), Evans, McCormick, Gibbons, Hoole, Thomas (Saunders 68)
Subs: Belshaw, Westbrooke
Goals: Hoole 32, Marquis 54, 66, Saunders 70
Yellow Cards: McCormick 81
Red Cards: Kilgour 79