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