Goals either side of Joel Anker’s free-kick meant that MK Dons were eliminated from the Berks & Bucks FA Senior Cup competition following a 2-1 defeat away to Bracknell Town.
The opening exchanges at Holloway Park were lively. A free-kick given in the host’s favour, which quickly turned into MK Dons’ hands when David Martin threw the ball he claimed towards Joel anker on the right of the field.
Lewis Johnson was the intended target for the ball in-behind, but goalkeeper Grace for Bracknell Town closed down the opportunity.
On the nine-minute mark Bracknell Town opened the scoring. A corner was delivered, which was then recycled towards the back post. David Martin shifted over far enough to tip the ball away from the Robins number nine, but the second ball fell kindly to the forward, who played the ball into Bracknell Grant for a free header at an open net. 1-0
The Robins sought to double their lead through the momentum they had seemed to gain from an early goal. Jackson had a hit on target from the edge of the box, his shot was met by the gloves of Martin.
Lewis Johnson used his speed to sprint on to a ball played down the right side of the field. The winger cut the ball back towards an empty area and no white shirts could run into the space to connect with it.
A great progressive run was crafted by Charlie Waller when he broke into space at the centre of the field, the number six fed through Joel Anker, who fired the ball into the area only for it to flash across the goal face.
Unfortunately, Kyle Boyce had his game cut short after the number three was forced off the field due to an injury sustained within the 24 minutes played. Dani Lucas took to the field in place of Boyce.
Although MK Dons suffered set-backs, the home side were dealt with a big blow when goalkeeper Grace was brandished a red card for deny Anker a goalscoring opportunity.
Anker’s pace allowed him to knock the ball past the ‘Keeper and gain an inch over his opponent to reward his team with an advantage of 11 men on the field.
Minutes after the referee’s whistle whilst Bracknell Town swapped their man between the sticks, the number ten stepped over the free-kick he was given and placed it accurately into the top-left corner of the net. Great work effort had paid off as Anker capitalised on the chance, he created moments earlier. 1-1
Within one attacking phase, the game had completely transformed, which resulted in the travelling team equalising near ten minutes prior to the interval.
Bracknell had responded swiftly to the equaliser. The Robins won the ball deep in the Dons’ final-third before they created a pass into Espirit, who converted from close-range. 2-1
On the brink of the half Bracknell Town were awarded a penalty. Espirit stood up to the spot-kick, but he was denied his brace when David Martin dived the right way and palmed his strong effort away from the bottom corner. A brilliant stop to prevent the hosts from doubling their lead.
MK Dons trailed 2-1 when the referee signalled for the break. Goals either side of Anker’s free-kick had given Bracknell the advantage, though, Martin’s penalty save in the final stages of the half stopped a greater deficit.
Similarly to the beginning of the first half encounter, the second stage of the game produced action early on. Edward Gyamfi attempted to catch out the substitute goalkeeper, but his sliced effort was wide of the post.
Soon after, Bracknell responded with a two-on-one situation. Although, the hard-working efforts to recover soon snuffed out the attack.
Nearly ten minutes after the restart, John Bitting’s boys were close to drawing level once more. A brilliant one-handed save from the substitute ‘keeper denied Joel Anker from close-range before he recovered rapidly to make a double save for Clark-Anderson’s strike.
Ten men on the field had been a clear hindrance to Bracknell Town, who sought to hold onto the lead in the hope to progress into the final round of the competition.
MK Dons had tried to take advantage of the home side’s situation and continued their advances onwards, but thus far, the Robins were stubborn in their defensive efforts.
15 Minutes prior to the full-time whistle, Lewis Johnson was inches away from an equaliser. The number 11 cut inside before he unleashed a shot that had rooted the Bracknell ‘keeper. With the shot-stopper beaten the only thing to deny Johnson was the woodwork, which reverberated following the strong strike.
Another attempt from at goal was matched by the substitute goalkeeper, who seemed to revel in his new duties. Joel Anker’s skilful touch crafted the opening for a shot, but only for it to be by smothered away.
Charlie Waller won a free-kick for Anker to have a chance at a double from the dead ball position. The forward replicated his aim for the top-left corner, only this time it was punched away from the called upon goalkeeper, who had denied yet another chance for the travelling team.
Mere minutes remained as MK Dons tried to keep their County Cup hopes alive, the pressure on Bracknell back-line was sustained, but a consistent strong defensive display had stopped John Bitting’s boys at each time of asking and eventually saw out the 2-1 score-line until the final whistle.
MK Dons: Martin (Sandford 66), Scholtz (Scholtz 66), Boyce (Lucas 24), Anderson, Wood (Lewis-Burgess 89), Waller (C), Tripp, Gyamfi, Blennerhassett (Adepoju 75), Anker, Johnson
Goals: Anker 34
Bracknell Town: Grace, Legg, Burden (Herbert 78), Dean, Osu, Penton, Grant (Harris 33), Jackson, Esprit (Vigrass 85), Maloney, English
Subs: Richards, Barrett
Goals: Grant 9, Espirit 42