MK Dons are out of the FA Cup after a penalty shoot-out defeat by Premier League Burnley after a dramatic tie.
Cameron Jerome had put the Dons ahead in the first half, with Russell Martin’s side also having a first taste of VAR after it was used to over-rule a red card originally issued to defender Richard Keogh late in the half.
The Dons were minutes away from holding out and dumping the Premier League side out, only for substitute Matej Vydra to equalise in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
With neither side finding a winner in added time, that meant penalties, and although Burnley missed their first kick, two saves by home debutant goalkeeper Will Norris took the home side over the line 4-3 and meant the Dons were out of the competition.
It was a cruel end to an eventful clash for Martin and his side, as they were ultimately left to reflect on what might have been.
This was the Dons’ first game of 2021, after a trip to Rochdale last weekend was called off due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Dale squad.
Burnley named several of their Premier League regulars and pressed early on, with the recalled Lee Nicholls denying Chris Wood’s header and strike partner Ashley Barnes one-on-one after a solo run. The keeper then also kept out Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Barnes, before Jack Cork had a shot blocked.
But it was the visitors who would strike first. Just before the half hour mark, Ste Walker’s cross was flicked on by Scott Fraser to Jerome, who beat Norris and put the League One side in front.
Burnley missed two chances to equalise, as Chris Wood headed wide when well placed before defender James Tarkowski hit the post from very close range.
This clash was MK Dons’ first taste of VAR and they would get a snapshot of the experience at the end of the half when it overturned Keogh’s dismissal. The centre-back was originally shown the red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity, but the VAR check over-turned this and kept MK Dons at 11 men.
MK Dons then could’ve doubled their lead in the opening stages of the second period, as Walker saw a shot saved by Norris.
Robbie Brady then crashed a volley over the top, with the Irishman then having two strikes denied by Nicholls.
It looked as thought the Dons were about to see the job through and claim a huge shock. But then, in the fourth minute of injury time, a Burnley free-kick would be poked in by Vydra to equalise for the Clarets.
With no replays this season due to the covid-enforced season squeeze, that meant extra-time, and the Dons would be competing in that without Russell Martin on the sidelines, after he was dismissed by the officials.
The Dons could’ve taken the lead shortly after extra-time began, as a cracking drive by Ben Gladwin from 30 yards bounced off the post.
Vydra would then be denied by Nicholls, but with no winner in the extra 30 minutes, that meant penalties.
Burnley would miss their first penalty, with Nicholls denying Vydra. But the crucial moments in the shoot-out would come the other way, as Norris kept out spot-kicks by Lasse Sorensen and Gladwin, before Phil Bardsley beat Nicholls to put Burnley into Round 4 and deny the Dons in the cruellest possible manner.