MK Dons are into the Third Round of the FA Cup as they came from behind at half-time to beat Maidstone United 4-1 at stadium:mk.
Maidstone took a first half lead when Magnus Okuonghae struck in a rebound at a corner just before the half-hour, and missed further chances in a lively first half.
But home pressure after the re-start saw Dons were level within ten minutes through Aidan Nesbitt. Kieran Agard then made a decisive contribution, with the Dons striker scoring twice in seven minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Peter Pawlett then added a fourth late on, as the home side rubber stamped progress into the competition’s next stage.
The Dons entered the clash with the 5th tier side looking for an uplift after last week’s defeat by Doncaster, and were looking to achieve it by booking their place in the Third Round of the competition.
The home side made 3 alterations to their previous side, with Gboly Ariyibi looking lively on his return to the starting line-up. The loanee from Nottingham Forest was having an energetic opening to the game, and saw a couple of early half-chances flash wide.
Maidstone were looking lively going forward themselves, but for most of the opening 25 minutes, both side found their final ball to be lacking. Perhaps the best chance fell to Ariyibi, who went on a solo run that saw him evade three defenders but then see his shot deflected wide.
It was the visitors who would strike first. They initially came close when Zavon Hines had a shot deflected wide. But from the resulting corner, the ball landed for Jal Reason, whose shot was repelled by Lee Nicholls back into play, and Okuonghae fired in the rebound.
The strike sent a busy and noisy away end wild, and left the Dons needing a turnaround to avoid their first loss to a non-league side. But the visitors remained dangerous, with Delano Sam-Yorke firing over twice when well placed.
The Dons began to see more concrete chances, with Chuks Aneke hitting a low shot wide, Ariyibi forcing a good save out of Lee Worgan, and Ryan Seager having a shot deflected into the keeper’s arms.
But the danger was still present for the hosts. Joe Pigott saw an effort deflected wide, before a flowing away move released Hines, who couldn’t keep his shot down.
The Dons nearly equalised within seconds of the restart, as they raced straight to the goal and saw an Aneke shot blocked before Ed Upson hit the bar with the rebound.
Sam-Yorke was inches wide moments later, but the Dons continued to apply pressure. The visiting keeper was forced into a stop to deny Ariyibi, and then a better stop to deny Upson’s firm first-time strike.
But the home side were level with ten minutes of the re-start. A cross from the home side’s right picked out Nesbitt, who evaded his marker well before firing the ball past Worgan.
It was very nearly a quick double for hosts, but Ethan Ebanks-Landell couldn’t bundle the ball in during a scramble at a Dons corner.
To break the deadlock, Robbie Neilson introduced Agard off the bench, and he had an immediate impact. The Dons striker was on hand to bury the rebound after Worgan had saved Upson’s initial acrobatic attempt, and was off celebrating a goal less than two minutes after arriving off the bench.
Agard’s first was then followed by another. The substitute received a firm pass from Aneke, held off the attentions of his marker, and then beat the keeper with a low shot.
Maidstone did have a smattering of chances, but the Dons retained the advantage and picked up a third in the final ten minutes. The ball was worked through for substitute Pawlett, who saw his first attempted parried by Worgan, but was able to scramble in the rebound from a tight angle.
George Williams headed wide with the final touch of the ball, but it was a good result for the Dons against a spirited showing from the National League side, and they book their place in the next round.
MK Dons: Nicholls – Williams, Wootton, Ebanks-Landell (Walsh 70), Golbourne – McGrandles, Upson – Ariyibi, Aneke, Nesbitt (Pawlett 80) – Seager (Agard 62)
Subs not used: Sietsma, Muirhead, Nombe, Thomas-Asante
Goal: Nesbitt (54), Agard (64, 70)
Maidstone: Worgan – Hare, Okuonghae, Finney, Anderson – Lewis, Wynter – Sam-Yorke (Collins 67), Reason (Paxman 82), Hines (Loza 75) – Pigott
Subs not used: Prestedge, Paxman, Wraight, Muldoon, Richards
Goal: Okuonghae (27)