AGARD DOUBLES UP FOR DONS

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

PATIENCE was the key for MK Dons ac­cord­ing to boss Rob­bie Neil­son af­ter he watched his side sweep Non-League Maid­stone United aside.

The Stones, who were look­ing to se­cure a place in the third round for the first time since 1978, got off to a fly­ing start in front of 1,541 trav­el­ling sup­port­ers and took the lead through Mag­nus Okuong­hae af­ter 25 min­utes.

But MK’s ruth­less qual­ity proved de­ci­sive in the sec­ond half as Ai­dan Nes­bitt, Kieran Agard and Peter Pawlett all found the net to spare Neil­son’s blushes af­ter his side en­tered the half-time break to a cho­rus of jeers at Sta­dium MK.

“It was a proper FA Cup game,” said Neil­son. “They’re al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult – it’s like a cup fi­nal day for them com­ing here.

“We didn’t take our chances and that gave them the op­por­tu­nity to cap­i­talise, so we showed a good strength of char­ac­ter to come back into the game.

“We told them at half-time to keep calm and the chances will come, and once we got the first and sec­ond goals we were very com­fort­able.

“We were dis­ap­pointed to lose the goal but the key thing for us was to show that re­silience to get our­selves back into the game.”

The vis­i­tors dom­i­nated much of the early at­tack­ing in­tent and took a de­served lead on 25 min­utes af­ter Zavon Hines’ cor­ner fell loose in the six-yard box, only for Okuong­hae to smash home from close range.

Nes­bitt snatched the Dons’ lev­eller on 54 min­utes af­ter some clever trick­ery from the winger on the left of the Maid­stone box cre­ated the space for a left-footed drive that flew past keeper Lee Wor­gan.

And the Dons’ su­pe­rior qual­ity showed in the sec­ond pe­riod when sub­sti­tute Agard net­ted twice in eight minute.

First he poked home on 64 min­utes to dou­ble the Dons’ lead. And soon af­ter he fired a right-footed strike from the edge of the Stones’ box into the net, be­fore Pawlett wrapped things up late on from in­side the box.

Maid­stone boss Jay Saun­ders ad­mit­ted his side had “dared to dream” when they took the lead at the League One club.

“If you’d have told me we’d be where we are in the league and play­ing here in the sec­ond round of the FA Cup this time last sea­son then I’d have bit­ten your hand off,” said Stones boss Saun­ders, who has been in charge of the Kent out­fit for al­most seven years.

“I don’t think we’d have got a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to get to the third round, when you’re 1-0 up at half-time and they haven’t re­ally caused us any prob­lems.

“But we just weren’t able to see out that first 15 min­utes of the sec­ond half be­cause that would have meant they would have be­come very frus­trated.

“I’d like to think our sup­port­ers are proud of the boys be­cause for a while we dared to dream, but un­for­tu­nately that wasn’t to be for us.”

MK DONS: (4-4-2): Ni­cholls 7, Wil­liams 6, Ebanks-Lan­dell 6 (Walsh 71 6), Woot­ton 7, Gol­bourne 6, Ariy­ibi 8, McGran­dles 7, Up­son 7, Nes­bitt 8 (Pawlett 78 7), Aneke 7, Sea­ger 5 (Agard 62 8) Subs not used: Si­etsma, Muir­head, Nombe, Thomas-Asante MAID­STONE: (4-1-4-1): Wor­gan 8, Hare 7, Okuong­hae 8, Fin­ney 7, An­der­son 7, Wyn­ter 7, Sam-Yorke 8 (Collins 67 7), Lewis 7, Rea­son 7 (Pax­mon 82 6), Hines 8 (Loza 75 6), Pig­ott 7 Subs not used: Prest­edge, Wraight, Mul­don, Richards

PICTURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

STAR MAN LEE WOR­GAN Maid­stone KNEES UP: Kieran Agard leaps af­ter scor­ing the Dons’ sec­ond

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