A sensational Jake Robinson strike sent MK Dons out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the first round stage as they bowed out to local rivals Northampton Town.
The League 2 side booked their place in the next round thanks to winger Jake Robinson who produced the moment of magic in the game when he netted a first half wonder goal from 30-yards out.
Cobblers had to work hard for their victory though as the Dons threw everything at them in the second half with Dean Bowditch and Stephen Gleeson testing Lee Nicholls, but arguably the chance of the game came in the final few minutes when Jabo Ibehre failed to turn home the ball from close-range.
The Dons made five changes to their side – sticking with the competitions rules of fielding six of their last matchday XI – with Under-18s captain Mason Spence, Antony Kay, Alan Smith, Jimmy Bullard and Charlie MacDonald.
Youngster Spence looked set to be tested to the maximum as Cobblers set up in a 4-4-2 formation which included the strong Adeabayo Akindenwa and Henoc Mukendi up front.
The early signs hinted to a competitive showing between the two sides as play moved from end to end. Yet little action took place in the opening 10 minutes but that quickly changed thanks to an incredible strike from the boot of Jake Robinson.
As the ball found Jake Robinson on the right of midfield, there appeared to be no opportunity in front of him. However, the former Shrewsbury and Torquay man had other ideas as, after spotting the movement of David Martin on his line, he swung his right-boot at the ball from 30-yards out and, with the sweetest of connections, sent a thunderous volley in at the near post.
It was a moment of magic from the Cobblers winger and one that left their opponents stunned.
The Dons tried to hit back in quick fashion but skipper for the night Stephen Gleeson saw his own attempts at a volley rise well over the bar.
At the other end, Dons had another scare when some excellent hold up play from Akinfenwa brought Louis Molt into play on the edge of the box, but his low drill through the box fell wide.
There was frustration in the Dons camp as they struggled to find a smooth rhythm against their local rivals and when chances were created a rushed finished failed to test Lee Nicholls. Daniel Powell was a prime example as he did all the hard work of breaking through the Cobblers’ backline only to lack composure as he lashed the ball over.
Against an organised Cobbers side the Dons had to work extra hard to break down their opponents. They stuck to their pass and move style, with the full-backs pushing forward and started to create opportunities for the visitors. Spence bombed down the right flank to whip in a great cross which MacDonald lifted into the air before turning and sending his volley too high.
MacDonald thought he had been hand wrapped a present when a Cobblers defender headed on Gleeson’s long ball as the ‘keeper rushed off his line. Unfortunately for the Dons striker though, Lee Nicholls was able to collect before he could get a touch on the ball.
As stoppage time was announced the Dons had one last chance to go forward and when Bullard delivered a corner to Bowditch at the far post but Lee Nicholls’ face took the full force of the close range effort and seconds later Shaun Williams lifted another chance over the bar.
The Dons looked livelier in the second half, but once more they had little luck in front of goal as Powell broke down the right but under the presence of Joe Widdowson blasted wide.
When the clock reached 55 minutes Karl Robinson opted to give Bullard, in his first Dons start, a rest as he introduced Luke Chadwock in his place.
Play appeared a lot scrappier as Ishmel Demontagnac had a long-range effort for the Cobbers but his scuffed shot was well-wide of Martin’s post, meanwhile MacDonald tumbled to the ground inside the penalty box as he and Anthony Charles went for the ball but his appeals for a penalty were turned down by referee Carl Berry.
The Dons began to turn the screw as the applied the pressure on Cobblers, yet Boothroyd’s side refused to falter as Gleeson added his name to the players to have been denied by Lee Nicholls.
Still without a leveller, Karl Robinson then threw caution to the wind as he switched to three defenders at the back with Spence and Smith leaving the pitch for further attacking options in Jabo Ibehre and Jay O’Shea.
The presence of Ibehre in the box certainly added a new dimension to the Dons’ attack and when Bowditch sent a free-kick into area it was the Dons forward who was first to meet the delivery. However, Ibehre’s header lacked power as it fell into Lee Nicholls’ hands.
Time was starting to run out for the Dons, yet their desire to find a way back into the game never wavered. Bowditch, who had run some ground in the match, did well to control a high ball only to the send his shot straight down the throat of the Cobblers goalie.
Cobblers were resolute in their defence, refusing to crack at the relentless pressure from the Dons. And they were dangerous on the counter-attack too as Moult raced clear down the right flank to spray the ball at the on-running Lewis Wilson who, after turning inside and out again, failed to keep his shot under control.
The Dons camped in the Cobblers half as time ticked away, MacDonald ghosted into the box to pick up O’Shea’s through ball and laid the ball on a plate for Ibehre but the striker failed to get the touch he needed to turn it home from six-yards.
As five minutes of added time were announced Gleeson watched Lee Nicholls turn his close-range effort away at the post and Chadwick had a low drilled stopped by the Cobblers goalie. But it was the Dons who finished the game defending as Martin was forced to a late tip over from Akinfenwa and the referee's whistle signaled the end to the Dons' JTP campaign.
Northampton Town (4-4-2): L Nicholls; East, Langmead (c), Charles, Widdowson; Demontagnac (Wilson 71), Tozer, Moult (Nicholls 82), Robinson (Turnball 76); Akinfenwa, Mukendi.
Subs not used: Snedker, Dias.
MK Dons: Martin; Spence (Ibehre 66), Williams, Kay, Chicksen; Bullard (Chadwick 66), Smith (O’Shea 69), Gleeson (c); Bowditch, MacDonald, Powell.
Subs not used: Lowe, Galloway, O’Shea.
Booked: Kay, Spence
Referee: Carl Berry (Surrey)
Attendance: 3, 444 (1,349 away)