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Match Reports

Report: Reading 3-2 MK Dons

MK Dons eliminated from FA Cup competition following a narrow defeat against Reading…

4 November 2023

Match Reports

Report: Reading 3-2 MK Dons

MK Dons eliminated from FA Cup competition following a narrow defeat against Reading…

4 November 2023

Despite late drama at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, MK Dons were eliminated from the FA Cup competition following a narrow 3-2 defeat against Reading.

Mike Williamson made six changes to his starting XI as Michael Kelly replaced MacGillivray between the sticks to make his second MK Dons appearance.

Smith, Williams, Devoy, Leko, Eisa were all also introduced into starting spots for the First Round FA Cup tie at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Jonathan Leko saw a shooting opportunity within the first few minutes of the match starting – the forward opened his body to curl an effort into the far side of the goal, but Reading threw bodies in the way to deny the early attempt.

Although the travelling team held most of the ball within the opening exchanges, it would be the hosts who would open the scoring four minutes into the fixture.

Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan latched onto the end of a pass through the defensive line of the Dons. From there, Reading’s number 15 had chopped inside before he fired home an effort in towards the near post. 1-0

Ten minutes into the tie and Mike Williamson’s men saw their first corner-kick. A short routine was played between Devoy and Eisa, but the home side were quick to fulfil their defensive duties.

MK Dons instantly sought to respond to their early setback, which saw possession swayed heavily in their favour. Yet, the team still waited for an opening to test Joel Pereira.

Jack Tucker was the victim of collateral damage as a Reading player collided into the defender whilst being tackled by MJ Williams. Tucker was seen to by the physios, but the number four returned to the field determined to continue.

Although eager to carry on with his game, the Dons number four was forced out of action as he struggled with the contact suffered. Jack Payne took to the field in the 19th minute.

Alex Gilbey was the first of the squad to force Joel Pereira into action. Jonathan Leko’s challenge in the middle of the field sparked the move forward, which allowed Daniel Harvie to fire a ball towards the edge of the penalty area.

Dawson Devoy flicked the ball towards the right of the box where Gilbey was to meet it with a strong strike at the near post – the effort was handled well by Reading’s goalkeeper.

The first yellow card of the game occurred on the 26-minute mark. Harvie hauled towards the ball to recover a loose touch and was successful in doing so – this led to a late sliding challenge by Ben Elliot, who was sanctioned for the offence.

Gilbey had sights for goal once again six minutes after his first attempt. The captain received the ball just outside of the box before a quick touch and shot made work for Reading’s shot-stopper, who stepped across to smother the strike.

A foul on Leko resulted in a free-kick for the Dons within Reading’s final-third. The set-piece was used as an opportunity to play the ball out wide before a delivery was fired in towards Tommy Smith. The defender’s header was put off by his marker just enough for it to be shy of the target.

An excellently executed move forward rewarded MK Dons with the equaliser they had gone in search for!

Jack Payne’s precise pass out wide to Cameron Norman had caught Reading’s defence on their heels, the number two then picked out the run of Gilbey at the penalty spot and the midfielder turned home the close-range chance. 1-1

Minutes before the break, Reading searched to restore their lead, which looked possible from a ball clipped in-behind for Paul Mukairu. Michael Kelly diminished the chance as he stepped up to claim the pass before it could reach its target. Five minutes of additional time were added.

An action-packed end to the first 45 minutes saw potential for either team at both ends of the field. However, the score-line remained unchanged as the referee signalled for the break.

The teams returned to the field as Reading made two changes at the interval which saw Elliot and Mukairu replaced by Knibbs and Azeez respectively.

Much like the start of the first half, the home side had found the back of the net early within the second stage of the clash. However, this time, the goal was ruled out by the linesman who had his flag raised against the opposition’s attacker.

Hutchinson was the next name in the referee’s book after Leko’s trickery fooled the number 23 as he slid across the Dons attacker ultimately wiping him off his feet. An easy decision for Thomas Kirk who reach for his pocket instantaneously.

Since losing control from their early period of domination, Reading made a further two changes as they brought on Craig and Ballard to replace the booked Hutchinson and Vickers.

MK Dons continued to work the ball around well with the desire to obtain the advantage for the first time within the match. Mike Williamson’s men held the lion share of possession.

Alas, the travelling team were faced with a disheartening setback as Reading’s substitute Harvey Knibbs restored their lead with a header gained converted from a free-kick delivery from the left. 2-1

Conor Grant and Max Dean both took to the field as the Dons’ first changes of the match following the host’s second goal.

The Royals saw their third through an error at the back forced due to their high press. Reading seized their opportunity whilst the ball was played around the visitors’ back-line, which saw a simple finish for Lewis Wing from close-range. 3-1

74 Minutes into the First Round tie the home side could’ve have seen a fourth. Knibbs’ turn in the centre circle allowed him enough space to find Tivonge Rushesha, who bared down on goal from the right – although, the number 40 opted for power over precision which saw his effort fly wide.

 The ball located the head of Warren O’Hora from an in-swinging delivery. The number five tried to direct the ball goalward, but the effort glanced away from the far post.

Dons didn’t let up although faced with a two-goal deficit. The team continued to venture forward and cause trouble for Reading’s rear-guard, but a lack of that finishing touch paid costly to the team’s hard-working efforts.

Mike Williamson made two changes within the final ten minutes of the match as Dean Lewington made his first appearance since October 18th. Alex Gilbey ran over to the touchline to present Lewington with the captain’s armband before the defender made his return from injury.

Callum Tripp also took place on the field and made his Senior FA Cup debut at just 17-years-old. A great milestone for the former Academy player, who had recently signed professional terms with the Club.

Dom Ballard came close to increasing the advantage for the Royals, but had his chip denied by a brilliant defensive display from Warren O’Hora, who cleared the attempt off the goal-line.

Within the five additional minutes to be played, MK Dons replicated a move from their earlier equaliser. Only this time, Reading reacted accordingly and put the ball behind for a corner-kick.

Mike Williamson’s men would see their second of the match through substitute Max Dean. The young forward latched onto a rebound from Gilbey’s initial strike to spark a fire of hope in the dying embers of the match. 3-2

A manic few minutes saw out the end of the FA Cup First Round clash after Dons’ late goal to reduce the deficit to one. A late penalty shout didn’t go in favour of the travelling team within the last action of the game.

Despite the late drama, MK Dons were eliminated from the FA Cup competition following a 3-2 defeat against Reading at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.


MK Dons: Kelly, Norman, Tucker (Payne 19), O’Hora, Williams, Leko (Grant 65, Gilbey (C), Eisa (Dean 65), Smith (Lewington 80), Harvie, Devoy (Tripp 80)

MacGillivray, Lewington, Ilunga, Burns, Dennis

Gilbey 38, Dean 90+4

Yellow cards:
Dean 90+3

Pereira, Elliott (Knibbs 45), Mukairu (Azeez 45), Ehibhatiomhan, Hutchinson (Craig 58), Bindon, Wing, Abbey (C), Rushesha, Vickers (Ballard 58), Carson (Dorsett 84)

Collins, Holmes, Savage, Ballard, Guiness-Walker, Dorsett, Craig

Ehibhatiomhan 3,  Knibbs 63, Wing 68

Yellow cards:
Elliot 26, Hutchinson 48, Knibbs 76

Thomas Kirk

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