In one of the most heart-breaking underdog FA Cup stories, in recent times, Russell Martin’s men will feel like they deserved Moor after what they showed on the Turf this afternoon at Premier League opposition. As it is, The Clarets are through after holding their nerve on penalties.
There seemed to be no complacency from the Premier League team early on as they started very much the brighter. Ashley Barnes, the ideal man, as far as Burnley are concerned, spurned two huge opportunities to put the men in claret ahead.
The first was a one-on-one opportunity where the Austrian seemed to have all the time in the world to beat Lee Nicholls but the Dons number one, in terms of squad number at least, managed to get a hand to the ball as the Burnley frontman tried to take it past him.
The second monumental chance to fall Barnes’ way came through a pinpoint cross from Dale Stephens which the man in claret met full on the volley but Nicholls managed to deny him again with a flying save.
After weathering this early storm, the League One team, with a rare foray into Burnley’s defensive third, took a surprise lead. Started by Daniel Harvie, the left wing-back fed Stephen Walker, who found space to find a cross, which was cleverly flicked on by Scott Fraser straight onto the head of Cameron Jerome: the perfect man, to give his side the lead.
That lead was almost cancelled out instantly. A Burnley cross was met by Ben Mee at the far post and he found his centre-back partner, who had the goal gaping. James Tarkowski somehow failed to level the scores despite having two attempts to score. His first attempt was a miskick and his second struck the post, much to the relief of all MK Dons fans.
Just as it looked as though the men from MK1 would be heading into the break, in good shape, MK Dons had a big red card scare. Had VAR not been in use, they would have seen Richard Keogh dismissed for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity for handball. After a very long consultation with the video assistant referee, Jon Moss overturned his original decision and instead, awarded the away side a free-kick for a Chris Wood foul on the Dons centre-back.
Half-time: Burnley 0-1 MK Dons
The first big chance of the second period fell to the men in white. Walker beat the offside trap to give himself a brilliant chance of doubling his side’s lead. Unfortunately, the Middlesbrough loanee failed to beat Will Norris in the home goal, from a tight angle.
Following this, a quick free-kick from Sean Dyche’s side caught out a napping Dons defence. Luckily, they were let off the hook when Robbie Brady sent his effort over the bar, on the volley.
Just when it looked as though the underdogs had done enough, a Robbie Brady free-kick caused mayhem in stoppage time and Matej Vydra, off the bench for Burnley, pounced to equalise with the last kick of normal time.
End of 90 minutes: Burnley 1-1 MK Dons
Burnley began the additional half-hour with a spring in their step but failed to create anything clear-cut during this period of sustained pressure. After ten minutes had passed, the Dons put together their own short period of pressure. This culminated in Ben Gladwin hitting an incredible long-range effort, which struck Norris’s post.
Vydra should have had a second at the end of the half and had two chances to bag his brace. At an angle that resembled Walker’s chance earlier on, Nicholls was able to deny him twice to keep his side in it.
The second half of extra-time was a non-event as both tired teams seemed to settle for a penalty shoot-out. Penalties would await the sides who had both won penalty shoot-outs previously in the season.
The penalty showdown started brightly for the plucky League One side. Nicholls saved Vydra’s penalty whilst Regan Poole netted to raise hopes of the upset still happening but Norris helped his side out of their tight spot by saving two penalties as the rest of Burnley’s penalties were converted. Disaster averted: the Premier League side are through to Round 4.
Full-time (AET): Burnley 1(4)-1(3) MK Dons
Man of the match: Lee Nicholls