AFC Wimbledon 2-2 MK Dons (MK Dons win 4-2 on penalties)

AFC Wimbledon 2-2 MK Dons (2-4 on penalties): Grudge match ends in shootout win for visitors after drama aplenty in thrilling Carabao Cup tie

  • Early drama as MK Dons’ Conor McGrandles blazes over penalty in EFL Cup tie
  • AFC Wimbledon capitalise by taking eighth minute lead through Scott Wagstaff 
  • MK hit back soon after as McGrandles makes up for penalty miss by equalising
  • David Kasumu puts MK Dons into a 2-1 lead five minutes into the second half 
  • Wimbledon then miss a penalty of their own as Joe Pigott’s effort is saved 
  • But the hosts sent the game to penalties with a late goal from Luke O’Neill 
  • Yet MK Dons held their nerve in the shootout and won out 4-2 winners

Joe Pigott was the fall guy as his two missed penalties cost AFC Wimbledon in the latest instalment of their bitter grudge match with Milton Keynes Dons.

Having seen a penalty saved in normal time, the Wimbledon striker cleared the crossbar with a vital kick in the shoot-out, allowing Alex Gilbey to step up and send Milton Keynes into the second round.

It was a cup tie that grabbed the viewer right from the off and refused to let go through three goals and two spurned penalties. The shoot-out then added an extra layer of cup tie drama.

Conor McGrandles celebrates scoring MK Dons’ first goal after missing an early penalty 

AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): Tzanev; O’Neill, Thomas, Kalambayi, Guinness-Walker (Osew 62); Wagstaff, Reilly, Hartigan, Connolly (McDonald 62); Pigott (c), Appiah (Folivi 72)

Substitutes not used: McDonnell (GK); Roscrow, Rudoni, McLoughlin

Manager: Wally Downes

Scorers: Wagstaff 8; O’Neill 90+4

Missed penalty: Pigott 61

Milton Keynes Dons (3-4-1-2): Nicholls; Cargill, Martin (Gilbey 64), Poole; Brittain, Kasumu, McGrandles, Lewington (c); Harley; Bowery, Agard (Asonganyi 69)

Substitutes not used: Moore (GK); Williams, Walsh, Boateng, Nombe

Manager: Paul Tisdale

Scorers: McGrandles 16; Kasumu 50

Missed penalty: McGrandles 3

Booked: Brittain

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 2,191 (280 away)  

Conor McGrandles skied a Milton Keynes penalty inside the opening minutes, but later atoned with a sharp finish to cancel out Scott Wagstaff’s opener.

David Kasumu’s classy top corner finish gave MK the lead but they required their keeper Lee Nicholls to keep out a Joe Pigott penalty as Wimbledon rallied.

They eventually got their reward deep into stoppage time when Luke O’Neill thrashed home an equaliser after what seemed interminable, but ultimately fruitful, passing build-up.

But home celebrations were short lived as Pigott fired into the stands, allowing Alex Gilbey to convert the winning kick.

The passing of time has certainly not dimmed the animosity between these two. The Milton Keynes fans who flooded into the away terrace early were greeted by a blue and gold banner reading ‘Where were you when you were us?’

The last time these two met here, in September 2017, AFC Wimbledon refused to acknowledge their opponents’ full name on the cover of the match programme and the scoreboard, earning a ticking off by the EFL and a ‘mediation’ process that probably won’t ever end.

At least such issues of nomenclature were avoided here – the scoreboard has been out of action for several months and no programme was produced as EFL rules say such things are no longer mandatory.

The present state of affairs is that both clubs are slugging it out in the lower reaches of League One, this first round tie mere added spice to two meetings later in the season.

The atmosphere crackled on the edge of acerbic and a thrilling start ensued.

MK were awarded a penalty inside two minutes when Wimbledon keeper Nik Tzanev fouled Regan Poole, the defender signed over the summer from Manchester United.

AFC Wimbledon’s Joe Pigott took a second-half penalty but it was saved by Lee Nicholls

But McGrandles’ kick was dreadful, flying clean over the bar and into the gloating mass of Wimbledon fans behind the goal.

Punishment duly arrived six minutes later. Wimbledon won themselves a corner and Anthony Hartigan’s delivery was only half-cleared to the edge of the box.

It dropped invitingly for Wagstaff, who adeptly steered it with the side of his boot through a crowded six-yard box and home.

The lead lasted under 10 minutes. MK had by this time settled and Poole sized on a loose, bouncing ball on the right and, with defenders dragged out of position, picked out McGrandles inside the area.

He turned sharply and found the bottom corner, atoning for his awful penalty and marking it with an open-armed celebration directed squarely at those previously gloating Wimbledon fans.

The remainder of the first-half failed to match the exciting opening. MK enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and might have led when Jordan Bowery headed over from Callum Brittain’s dinked cross.

The match is always a tense and passionate affair between two fierce rivals 

After the break, Kasumu was played a ball by McGrandles roughly 20 yards out and entertained no other thought but to shoot for the top corner. 

Kasumu picked it out superbly and marked it with a nonchalant celebration as if such goals are daily occurrences.

But Wimbledon received a lifeline on the hour mark when Ryan Harley clumsily brought down Kwesi Appiah in the box, only for Joe Pigott to underhit his penalty, Lee Nicholls getting down to save.

The hosts continue to press, with MK defending precariously at times. Pigott cleared the crossbar with a shot as they threatened an equaliser.

But there was always the risk of a third MK goal on the counter and Tzanev was at full stretch to deny Bowery a clincher and O’Neill made them pay.

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