Izale McLeod, who the MK Dons faithful still see as being one of their own, started for the Bees as the lone striker, with 5 across the middle of the park. The Dons didn’t come and underestimate Barnet, as they used a very strong side which is widely considered as being on of the best teams in League 1. Before the match, their was a fitting one minute applause in aide of Gary Speed, the Welsh national team manager who tragically passed away the previous week.
The last encounter between these two sides was in a pre-season friendly before the start of this current season, and the scores that day finished 1-1. Indeed it was the home side from the division below their opponents who started very brightly. 7 minutes were on the clock when Michael Hector played a nice ball over the back of the Dons defence which found Izale McLeod who controlled the ball well on his chest and shot with power, only for goalkeeper David Martin to hold the ball well. The Bees continued to put a fair amount of pressure onto their Buckinghamshire opponents, and on 10 minutes, Mark Marshall, after a good run, produced a neat cross which eventually fell to the smallest man on the pitch, Sam Deering, who leaped high above the defenders, but his looping header was again easily held by Martin.
There was no way MK Dons players were going to feel downhearted though, after their start on the back foot. Jabo Ibehre charged his way into the Barnet penalty area, but his powerful shot from a tight angle was pushed to safety by Dean Brill in the Bees goal. The Dons still continued to press, and Dean Bowditch, a summer arrival from Yeovil Town, almost put his side into the lead with two opportunities in a short period of time. Firstly, Bowditch tried curling a shot into the far corner of the net which swerved just wide of the goal. Minutes later, the 25 year old had another fine shot from a very similar position on the edge of the penalty area, but this time it was up to Brill to push the ball away for a corner.
On half an hour, Barnet and McLeod again should have taken the lead. Mark Marshall spread a delightful 40 yard pass from deep inside his own half, which was aimed towards Sam Deering, and although Deering’s run took two Dons defenders away from goal, this allowed McLeod to intercept the ball well himself, and found himself one on one with Martin again, but McLeod hit his shot wide. It was the type of opportunity Barnet’s top goal scorer would normally convert nine times out of ten.
That miss proved to be crucial. Nine minutes later, full back Adam Smith chipped a ball onto the head of one of his strikers, who nodded the ball down for Darren Potter and his shot was well struck and hit the corner of the net to give the away side the advantage, which they held until the interval.
In a tactical move, Bees captain Mark Hughes was replaced at half time by Ricky Holmes, although the second half took quite a while to get full swing. 20 minutes of the second period had gone by before any real chance of note. It fell to the Dons. Bowditch showed some quick footwork to turn in the penalty area with his back towards the goal, but he didn’t get a proper connection of the ball, which rolled wide. MK Dons were the only team who seemed up for the task of scoring the matches second goal, and came close on 75 minutes when Shaun Williams hit the post from 12 yards out under pressure from the Barnet defenders.
Eventually, the pressure did pay off though and their lead was doubled. Darren Potter threaded the ball like string through a needle to find Charlie MacDonald, who kept his composure well, going round the diving Dean Brill before tapping the ball into the empty net. Soon after the goal, a third almost arrived. Captain Dean Lewington was given a free kick on the edge of the area, and got the ball up and over the wall, but Brill was equal to the attempt, get down low and well to deny the effort.
Izale McLeod had a rather wasteful afternoon if the truth be told, but finally got his name onto the score sheet with four minutes of the match remaining, scrambling the ball into the net from close range, before acknowledging the away supporters, some of whom applauded the goal, fans who once adored him. However, if any of the home faithful thought an unlikely comeback was on the cards, they were mistaken. Totally against the run of play, Lewington had the presence of mind to intercept the ball and play a pass quickly to lightening fast Daniel Powell, who ran clear of the Bees defence and finished emphatically with a shot which hit the roof of the net at a rapid rate of knots. At 3-1 to MK Dons, with such little time remaining, there would be no way back for Barnet, although in injury time Clovis Kamdjo wasted a good chance to notch yet another consolation goal.
The defeat sees Barnet knocked out at just the second stage of the competition, whilst MK Dons go into the hat for 3rd round, where the Premiership and Championship clubs join the competition. Barnet face Brentford in the Jonestone’s Paint Trophy at Underhill on Tuesday night, another League 1 club, before having a long trip down to Torquay on Friday night to endure.
Man of the Match: Dean Bowditch
Bees Man of the Match: Mark Marshall