MK Dons 2 Sheff Weds 0
A Shaun Williams penalty and fluky goal from Dean Bowditch fired MK Dons into the fourth round of the FA Cup with Budweiser with a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday.
The victory over the Championship outfit secured a slice of history for the Dons as they sealed their place in the fourth round of the most prestigious domestic cup competition for the first time, were they will face Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
Williams put the Dons into the driving seat with an excellent penalty in the 28th minute and from that moment the hosts looked assured in their performance. The Dons could have had a second penalty soon after when Powell was tripped in the box, but the second came with 15 minutes remaining when Dean Bowditch tucked his free-kick into the back of Stephen Bywater’s net.
The Dons have now scored all 10 of their FA Cup goals at stadiummk, but to keep their magical Cup story alive they will need to beat Premier League opposition away from home in the next round.
The Dons made three changes to the side which drew with Bury in the League at stadiummk just three days earlier with Adam Chicksen, Ryan Harley and the cup-tied Izale McLeod making way for Jon Otsemobor, Gary MacKenzie and Alan Smith.
MacKenzie made his first start in just over four months, following hip surgery, while Otsemobor returned against his former side after a month on the treatment table with a groin injury.
There had been nothing to separate the Dons and Sheffield Wednesday at the original tie at Hillsborough 10 days earlier and the opening phases at stadiummk hinted at another close encounter.
It took the best part of eight minutes for the first real sign of an attempt at goal to be forced when an ambitious long-range shot from Paul Corry flew just wide of the post and came back of the stanchion.
Wednesday were dealt a blow when their lightening quick winger Jermaine Johnson was forced off after just 13 minutes through injury.
The visitors were much improved from the side the Dons had faced just over a week earlier and appeared more threatening through midfield. However, their decision making in the final third left a lot to be desired with Necj Pecnik and Gary Madine both failing to get beyond the back four.
The Dons struggled get find their rhythm and as a result Alan Smith and Ryan Lowe were often frustrated spectators. Yet, the pace and skill of Dean Bowditch proved a useful asset for the Dons as the forward cut into the box and a clear pull on his shirt by Lewis Buxton gave referee Lee Collins little choice by to award a penalty.
Williams, the Dons’ regular penalty-taker who stepped into midfield, stepped up and confidently lashed his spot-kick into the top corner to fire the Dons in front.
It was a goal that appeared to stun the visitors and spark a swing in moment for the Dons. For all the world the Dons seemed destined to double their lead when Powell turned passed his marker and burst into the box, at that point Martin Taylor dangerously dangled his leg out to trip the wide man.
However, Powell stayed on his feet before fumbling the ball onto Stephen Bywater, at which point the Dons bench showed their fury at the failure to reward a penalty. By all accounts the Wednesday skipper was fortunate to remain on the pitch and to have not handed the Dons an excellent chance to extend their lead.
Wednesday tried desperately to find their way back into proceedings before the break but MacKenzie was a man mountain in defence and his partnership with Antony Kay demonstrated a strength in depth that the Dons have so often lacked in their back four this season.
Pecnik was forced to shoot on sight after receiving the ball on the edge of the box, but his effort curled wide and moments later his cross almost found Danny Mayer, but a combination of Otsemobor, Kay and MacKenzie ushered the chance away.
The half-time interval came at the perfect time for the Dons – just as Sheffield Wednesday were starting to gather some momentum.
The second half opened up with Wednesday keen to find an early equaliser and the Dons set on tightening their grip on proceedings.
A delightful set-piece from the Dons almost found a second for the hosts as Smith flicked on Williams’ free-kick but Lewington, who was subsequently offside, lifted the ball over.
At the other end Wednesday had a glorious chance to hurt the Dons on the counter-attack but after an excellent run through midfield and into the box Mayer blasted inexplicably wide.
A spicy battle between Lowe and Miguel Llera had been the under current throughout, yet when Smith weighed into the contest the battle was close to over simmering.
Wednesday though still had eyes on the fourth round and that was the more important fight on the night, and Corry went close to netting a fine volley when the ball fell perfectly to him on the edge of the box. Fortunately for the Dons, Martin saw it well through the bodies and made a fantastic reaction-save.
Instead, the Dons found the second their play had deserved when a free-kick tight to the left touchline was fizzed into the box by Bowditch but the cross evaded everyone and nestled into the back of the net. It was a plucky goal from Bowditch, but one that the Dons had deserved for a fine, strong second half performance.
The Dons could have made the scoreline more emphatic when Lowe was released in the box but a clearance from Taylor denied him the chance to test Bywater, and from the resulting clearance Williams drove a low shot wide.
Lowe had two further opportunities at goal, the first saw a mis-kick quickly cleared up but the second, an audacious lob from distance, forced a save from Bywater.
But two goals proved enough as the Dons sailed into the fourth round.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin; Otsemobor, Kay, MacKenzie (Kouo-Doumbe 71), Lewington (c); Potter, Williams; Powell (Alli 88), Smith, Bowditch (Chicksen 78); Lowe.
Subs not used: Harley, Rasulo, Ismail.
Goals: Williams (pen) 28, Bowditch 76
Sheffield Wednesday: Bywater, Buxton, Taylor (c), Semedo, Madine, Johnson (Mayer 13), Mattock, Pecnik (O'Grady 55), Lee (Antonio 62), Corry, Llera.
Subs not used: Davies (GK), Sidibe, Jones, Coke.
Referee: L Collins
Goal-Don Goal times: 1st goal – 27.35; 2nd goal – 75.11