MK Dons secured top spot in their Bristol Street Motors Trophy group after their 3-2 victory over Northampton Town made it three successive wins in the competition.
An eventual evening at Stadium MK began with a Manny Monthe headed goal on 36 minutes but the Dons restored parity early in the second half through Charlie Waller, who volleyed home from a Dawson Devoy corner on his first Club start.
Darragh Burns then put the Dons in front with a powerful angled finish and while the Cobblers drew level courtesy of a Tyreece Simpson penalty, it was Mike Williamson’s side who would come out on top – Dawson Devoy the match-winner with a stunning long-range drive.
The triumph means MK Dons finish first in Southern Group F and will play at home in the Round of 32, which is set to place during the week commencing 4 December.
Williamson’s line-up included a number of changes, not least captain Dean Lewington returning to the starting XI alongside Darragh Burns, making his first start of the season. There were also full debuts for first-year pros Joel Anker and Charlie Waller as well as scholars Albert Wood and Keon Lewis-Burgess.
On the bench, all seven substitutes were Academy players – one of which was 16-year-old Rian Silver.
Northampton’s Ryan Haynes had the first shot of the game after only three minutes but his 20-yard effort was saved by Michael Kelly. The Dons responded with Dawson Devoy working a ball into Matthew Dennis but he was unable to get a shot away.
Williamson’s side were working the ball well despite their lack of experience in certain areas, but they were finding it difficult to break down the Cobblers.
Similarly, though, Northampton were struggling to unlock a Dons defence marshalled well by Lewington and Stewart, either side of Waller, who was looking composed in the centre.
Had several through balls into the area been more accurate then the Dons may have been able to work a shooting chance. Those missed opportunities proved costly when the visitors took the lead on 36 minutes through MONTHE, who headed past Kelly from a deep corner. 0-1.
Northampton maintained that lead through until half-time and almost doubled it seven minutes into the second but, fortunately, for the Dons, Haynes fired wide when well-placed inside the area.
Williamson’s men, however, regained control of the contest and levelled the scores with 56 minutes played when Devoy’s low, out-swinging corner was met by WALLER, who volleyed home to mark his first Dons start with a goal. 1-1.
The Cobblers had an immediate chance to restore their advantage but Wood got himself in the way of Ali Koiki’s shot to divert it wide of the target. Minutes later, the Dons were in front as BURNS latched onto Dennis’ through pass and, from an angle, fired a left-footed shot past Max Thompson and into the roof of the net. 2-1.
Williamson then went to his bench to hand debuts to second-year scholar Charlie Stirland and 16-year-old Silver. The latter was agonisingly close to connecting with a teasing cross soon after his arrival, but was just out of reach sliding in with the goal at his mercy.
There was then a debut for Josh Clark-Anderson, brought on in place of his first-year teammate Lewis-Burgess, who was impressive in the centre of the midfield.
With nine minutes left to play, Northampton were able to level the scores from the penalty spot, after a foul on Reuben Wyatt inside the area allowed SIMPSON the chance to convert from 12 yards. 2-2.
That looked to set up a dramatic end to the contest but within seconds of the re-start, MK Dons were back in front courtesy of a terrific long-range strike from DEVOY, who found the top corner of Thompson’s net from all of 30 yards out. 3-2.
MK Dons: Kelly, Lewington (Stirland 67), Ilunga, Burns, Anker (Silver 67), Stewart, Devoy, Dennis, Waller, Wood, Lewis-Burgess (Clark-Anderson 78).
Subs: Bedford, Medwynter, Boyce, Daffern.
Goals: Waller (56), Burns (64), Devoy (84)
Referee: S Purkiss
Attendance: 1,648 (427 away)