Boro are the spot kick kings
Stevenage stun MK Dons in FA Cup replay
MK Dons 1 Stevenage 1
FA Cup First Round
Boro win 7-6 on penalties
IT was the result the whole world didn’t want – and certainly didn’t expect – but on Tuesday evening Stevenage upset the form book to dump MK Dons out of the FA Cup in the most dramatic fashion possible.
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With 95 minutes on the clock, and with referee Gavin Ward polishing his whistle ready for one last peep, Boro substitute Darius Charles put his laces through a shot and earned his side another 30 minute crack at Karl Robinson’s Dons.
It was a sensational moment, and one usurped only by the manner of the spot kicks to come.
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Scott Laird missed his - over the crossbar, into the crowd – and the Dons looked set to do their bit to set up that AFC Wimbledon/MK Dons grudge match that footballing neutrals everywhere wanted to see.
Peter Leven then stepped up – by far the best of all 33 players used over the two ties – and he hit a shot just above Chris Day but the ‘keeper, reacting late, threw an arm high and pushed Leven’s kick towards the heavens.
The Dons were then brought back down to earth when Boro scored through Yemi Odubade, Mark Roberts and Lawrie Wilson and Mathias Doumbe later went the way of Laird to give Boro the tie.
The first 90 minutes of the match were not spectacular, but football is the greatest of all dramas when it produces moments like this. It was a ‘where were you’ moment for every Boro fan at stadium:mk.
The win gives Boro a televised Second Round game against either Wimbledon or Ebbsfleet (they play Thursday evening) but nothing in that match will be able to compare with the drama and downright exhaustion of Tuesday night’s events.
There was a first half, of course, in which Chris Beardsley forced David Martin into a smart save from inside the box and Laird hit the post with a curling free kick, but it was, for the majority of its 45 minutes, lifeless.
The second half was better. The Dons took the lead when the mercurial Leven said ‘open, simsim’ and the Boro centre-halves parted on cue for the midfielder to thread a ball through to Lewis Guy.
With such space and time, the attacker had an embarrassment of riches and took his time to smack the ball past Day.
Boro stuttered and stumbled, but couldn’t get the equaliser they craved and Leven, and in particular Mark Carrington began carving the Boro backline up with Laird culpable on more than one occasion of allowing his runner to get the better of him.
Boro brought on the bustling Odubade along with Charlie Griffin, but they could not find a way through. Long range efforts seemed the order of the day for both sides, but both goalkeepers were able to deal with the best of them.
Boro threw on Charles up front and he added presence in place of Beardsley, back from injury, but a goal never yielded.
That was until 95 minutes were up, and Charles pounced.
The move started with Mark Roberts – bruised, exhausted – throwing his body to the floor 20 yards from his own goal to block a shot, and as the ball rolled across the wet blades of green grass to John Mousinho Roberts picked himself up and stumbled forward.
While Mousinho and Odubade played the ball between them upfield on the left, adrenaline carried Roberts forwards, and into the Dons box where he would eventually challenge David Martin to Odubade’s cross, leading to Charles’ goal.
More importantly was the awfulness of MK Dons’ defending as Odubade put his cross in.
Odubade had taken the ball down the left. He passed inside to Mousinho on the edge of the box but his two markers followed the ball, and when Mousinho returned it to Odubade the defenders stood off.
Not only did the striker have enough time to cross the ball but because the Dons defenders did not close him down the striker had enough time to put his foot on the ball and then take two steps back before sizing up his delivery.
It was an astonishing sight in the 95th minute of a football match from a team defending the lead. As it was Odubade crossed, Martin flapped, Charles did the rest.
It was a moment of such raw emotion, that anything which happened over the next 30 minutes was irrelevant.
The spot kicks went to 7-6 before Doumbe missed his. Laird had missed, Leven had seen his saved, and nearly every other penalty was hit with precision.
The footballing world had been keeping its fingers crossed for an AFC Wimbledon/MK Dons tie, but Boro won’t mind one little bit that they gate crashed the party.
MK Dons (4-4-2): Martin 6, Lewington 6, Doumbe 6, MacKenzie 7, Woodards 6 (O’Hanlon, 114), Gleeson 5, Carrington 7, Leven 8, Johnson 6 (Chadwick 6, 71), Baldock 6, Guy 6 (Powell 5, 71). Subs: Searle, Chicksen, Flanagan, Hamann.
Boro (4-4-2): Day 7, Wilson 6, Roberts 6, Ashton 7, Laird 5, Mousinho 8, Bostwick 7, Long 6, Bridges 6, May 5, Beardsley 7. Subs: Bayes, Foster, Byrom, O’Shea.