The Football League Paper - - FA CUP SECOND RND - By Harry Wilmin

MK DONS man­ager Karl Robin­son says he could for­give his play­ers de­spite Ch­ester­field dump­ing them out of the FA Cup, in­sist­ing they had earned a re­prieve in re­cent weeks.

Pro­mo­tion-chas­ing MK Dons wel­comed a Ch­ester­field side that cur­rently sit nine po­si­tions be­low them in League One.

But the vis­i­tors be­lit­tled their league po­si­tion as Ar­mand Gnan­duil­let headed home the only goal on 53 min­utes to send Ch­ester­field into the FA Cup third round.

It left Robin­son fum­ing and philo­soph­i­cal in equal mea­sure.

“It was sham­bolic, re­ally poor,” the MK Dons boss said. “We just weren’t good enough, we had a lot of play­ers not here but we’ve been beaten by the bet­ter team.

“Ch­ester­field had more en­ergy all over the park, more qual­ity in the fi­nal third, and we were lucky to lose by just the one.

“I don’t think any player on that pitch can come out with any credit.We looked dull, we didn’t win any sec­ond balls and our cor­ners were di­a­bol­i­cal.

“The play­ers looked lethar­gic and by far sec­ond-best in ev­ery sin­gle depart­ment – it’s not ac­cept­able.

“But we’ve been mag­nif­i­cent for the last two months, so an off day in the last 11 isn’t too bad. I can’t re­ally hang my team out to dry when they’ve been mag­nif­i­cent over the past few months. I think I can let them off – I’d rather let them be poor in the cup and do what they’re do­ing in the league in the next four months.”

Charlie Raglan went close to nod­ding the vis­i­tors ahead inside the open­ing ex­changes after Gnan­duil­let’s ear­lier ef­fort had forced a cor­ner.

Next up it was a chance for the hosts as Jor­dan Spence’s long ball for­ward sailed over the Spire­ites back four and into the path of free-scor­ing Benik Afobe inside 17 min­utes, but goal­keeper Tommy Lee did well to block his fum­bled ef­fort.

Ten­dayi Darikwa’s lobbed ef­fort failed to beat MK Dons goal­keeper David Martin just be­fore half-time, but Gnan­duil­let struck eight min­utes after the restart, steer­ing a pow­er­ful down­ward header home.

Sam Morsy went close to mak­ing sure of the vis­i­tors’ place in the third round with a long-range ef­fort near the death, but Martin col­lected well as the game en­tered stop­page time.

And Ch­ester­field boss Paul Cook was left beam­ing from ear to ear with the draw to look for­ward to.

Cook said: “I’m de­lighted, I’m de­lighted for ev­ery­one at the club.

“You see our trav­el­ling sup­port­ers and our chief ex­ec­u­tive, we’re all very close at our club and we have a re­ally good con­nec­tion.

“Get­ting in the third round of the FA Cup is huge for this club. I thought to a man all of the play­ers were ab­so­lutely mag­nif­i­cent, ev­ery sin­gle one of them.

“Our per­for­mance mer­ited that stand­ing ova­tion we got at the end there.”


JOY OF THE CUP: Ar­mand Gnan­duil­let is con­grat­u­lated by Ge­org Mar­gre­it­ter after scor­ing Ch­ester­field’s win­ner

THUMP: Tommy Lee, Sam Clu­cas and Benik Afobe


TS Ch­este


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