Assistant manager Mick Harford believes MK Dons’ goalless draw with non-League Cambridge City, which forced an FA Cup First Round replay at stadiummk, summed up their frustrating season.
The Dons were held by the Evo-Stik Southern Premier side in the First Round of the FA Cup with Budweiser despite bossing the game from the first minute to the final whistle.
The men from MK1 had chance after chance to win the game with both Stephen Gleeson and Luke Chadwick denied by the woodwork while Zac Barrett pulled off a string of excellent saves to keep the Dons at bay.
And it came as no surprise to Harford that City’s man between the sticks produced such an outstanding performance on the night against the League 1 outfit.
Speaking after the game, Harford said: “There were that many saves and so many balls going into the back of the box that I can’t really remember them all, but the one from Ryan Lowe at the end was one of the
“I know Zac from my Luton days and I thought he was brilliant this evening. He had an unfortunate injury and was released by Luton so fair play to him, he’s come back and he’s looking like a very good goalkeeper
now and there might have been a few people watching him who have taken a shine to him.”
The Dons were faced with a wall of City players to break down from the word go but the Lilywhites had eleven heroes on the pitch to force the game into a replay at stadiummk in 11 days time.
“Fair play to Cambridge City, they set out their stall, they defended magnificently. You have to give them a little bit of credit, their keeper especially, their back four threw themselves in front of everything, we created numerous opportunities and we were never in danger of losing the game but you are always wary of a breakaway goal or a set-piece.
“The shape of our team was great, we moved the ball around really well, we had a game which typified our season – we have dominated a game but we haven’t finished teams off or got the goal which I thought I play deserved. But, on the back of that credit to Cambridge City they worked really, really hard today and we are still in the hat so to speak.
“They played with a lot of heart and a lot of spirit and you have to give credit to each and every one of their players, their management and their staff. They set out their stall and knew what was coming and overall they did a job, which will hopefully get them another pay day for that.
“It is a game that hopefully we can win and get through to the next round, but you have to say they showed great spirit and, I wouldn’t say they deserved a draw but from what they showed on the pitch tonight in terms of effort and commitment it will take them a long way.”
The one big positive from Dons boss Karl Robinson was the performance of academy player Dele Alli who made his first team debut at just 16-years old. The midfielder was introduced to play alongside Darren Potter and Stephen Gleeson and while there was a gulf in age there certainly didn’t appear to be a gulf in quality.
Harford added: “Dele is a very good footballer; he is one of many good youngsters at this Football Club. Brendan Galloway has played in the first team, Dele’s done well in training and in the youth team games and if they do that Karl will reward them with opportunities.
“He came on and he didn’t look out of place, he did what we asked of him, he got forward, he got in the box and he nearly scored with his first or second touch so we’re delighted with his progress and I thought he did excellently tonight.”
The draw for the Second Round of the FA Cup with Budweiser takes place on Sunday live on ITV at approximately 2.40pm.
The replay at stadiummk between the Dons and Cambridge City will take place on Tuesday 13th November, kick-off 7.45pm. Ticket details to be confirmed on mkdons.com in due course.