Penalties were the order of the day at Kingsmeadow on Tuesday night as MK Dons squeezed past arch-rivals AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup first-round.
In fact, there were 11 of them taken in total in a pulstaing, brilliant and often sloppy night in South West London.
Neither set of fans had anywhere near enough time to get through their reportoire of chants, both inflamatory and not, before the game burst into life with just two minutes on the clock
Driving into the home-side’s penalty area, Manchester United loanee Reagan Poole was brought down by Wimbledon shot-stopper Nik Tzanev to concede the first of the 11 spot-kicks.
As is the way in the modern game, midfielder Conor McGrandles took a stutter in his run-up, hoping to outfox his opponent.
Unfortunately for the travelling fans, McGrandles only served to outfox himself, sending his penalty comfortably over the bar.
And the midfielder’s misery was, for the time being anyway, confounded just six minutes later when Paul Tisdale’s back-line failed to deal with a Wombles’ corner, with the ball eventually falling to Scott Wagstaff.
The experienced campaigner will have been one of the home crowd’s preferred options for the ball to fall too, and he made no mistake, finishing cooly into the bottom corner.
In what was a frantic opening to the match, they were not in front for long, however.
In fact it took just three minutes from the match restarting before the Dons had drawn level and McGrandles was to make amends.
Once again, Poole showed his class down the right-hand side, crossing teasingly into the host’s penalty area where the Scot was on hand to level the tie and send the 280 travelling fans wild.
The remaining 30 minutes or so passed largely without event, but the second-half, keen not to be out-done by the first, sparked into life quickly.
On the 50th minute the Dons worked a corner short. After a series of passes between Dean Lewington and the ever-involved McGrandles, the latter played the ball to the waiting David Kasumu, 20-yards from goal.
The 19-year-old youth product, showing composure beyond his years, took one perfect touch out of his feet before curling a perfect shot past the helpless Tzanev.
However, like brothers of a similar age, one half seemingly has to have what the other does, and ten minutes later, Wimbledon had a penalty of their own, when Kwesi Appiah was rashly hacked down in the box by Baily Cargill.
And just like the first, the second-half would also to have a missed spot-kick to its name, as the usually reliable Joe Pigott tamely shot into the arms of Nicholls.
It looked for a long time like it was going to end 2-1. Until the 93rd minute, that is.
All evening, Luke O’Neill had looked a menace down the right, but his late move into the Dons penalty area went entirely unnoticed and when the ball dropped to him following a looped cross from the left, he just hit it as cleanly as he could.
And it worked. The home fans erupted and on to penalties we went. This match already a classic chapter in Britain’s rawest rivalry.
But it was to be the villains of the piece, in the eyes of most anyway, who would come away with the spoils.
Three more penalties were missed in the shoot-out, with Pigott once again falling foul from the spot along with Ryan Harley, and it eventually fell to 62nd minute substitute Alex Gilbey to strike home the winning spot-kick for the visitors, the 11th of the match, and bring a close to the frantic occasion.Like what the FLW have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!