MK Dons 3-0 Northampton: Dons set up FA Cup fourth-round tie with Chelsea
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 19/01/16 10:59pm
MK Dons deservedly claimed the prize of a home FA Cup fourth round tie against Chelsea after inflicting a 3-0 replay defeat on neighbours Northampton.
Midfielder Ben Reeves was involved in two second-half goals that finally gave the Sky Bet Championship side due reward for their dominance, netting the crucial opener from the penalty spot then releasing substitute Josh Murphy nine minutes later. Simon Church rounded off the scoring with a 90th-minute spot kick.
League Two promotion-chasers Northampton, cheered on by 7,000 travelling fans, played some enterprising football although their best chance of progress turned out to have disappeared through MK's late equaliser in the original tie 10 days ago.
The night was not without cost for manager Karl Robinson, who juggled his resources with their crucial Championship survival battle at Bolton on Saturday in mind.
Already committed to five changes in his starting line-up, he quickly lost two more players through injury. Striker Nicky Maynard was hurt in the warm-up and replaced by Church, whose first involvement was to bring a second-minute save from Adam Smith.
Injury-plagued former England defender Matt Upson, making a rare appearance, then limped off in the 38th minute.
The home side had the better of the first half with Rob Hall in sparkling form on the right flank but Northampton defended capably.
A fierce 20-yard shot from Sam Hoskins, which was parried by Dons goalkeeper David Martin in the 18th minute, was the closest the visitors came.
Dean Bowditch narrowly failed to get a final touch to a superb cross from Hall, who then shot wildly over after an exciting run.
The tie then turned in the space of two dramatic minutes. Referee Tony Harrington silenced Cobblers fans after Martin appeared to carry a Ricky Holmes corner over his own line by awarding a foul against striker Marc Richards.
Then he pointed to the spot when Zander Diamond chopped down Bowditch and Reeves confidently lifted his 53rd minute spot kick into the middle of the goal.
It was Bowditch's last contribution before he, too, limped off but his replacement Murphy was even more effective.
He had already clipped the bar and sent a low shot inches past the post before racing clear to steer his shot past Smith in the 62nd minute.
Northampton toiled manfully to seek a way back into the tie with Holmes, two-goal hero from the first match, making a number of threatening runs.
But now it was the Dons who had the luxury of being able to pull players back behind the ball, then threatened to make further inroads with their pace on the break.
Harrington gave a more disputable spot-kick in the final moments when Smith plunged at Hall's feet and Church added insult to Northampton's injury.