Wagstaff struck the killer blow five minutes from time. (©PAphotos)
Charlton banished the painful memories of Saturday’s shock defeat against Brentford with a spirited fight back against MK Dons that ensured they left the new city with a ticket to the quarter finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
The Dons were looking for their first win in five games, and both managers fielded strong line-ups, showing the true value of the cup and the potential trip to Wembley that was on offer. Charlton star Christian Dailly came back into the side after a spell on the sidelines with a fractured eye socket, and Angelo Balanta returned to the starting line up for the Dons.
Dean Lewington was the only survivor in the starting line up from the Milton Keynes side that won the trophy under Paul Ince in 2008.
Karl Robinson will have been out to avenge last week’s 1-0 defeat to Charlton at The Valley, while his Addicks counterpart Phil Parkinson was forced to watch from the stands, observing his touchline ban. It was Robinson though who was in dreamland after less than two minutes on the clock, with Luke Chadwick handing the home side the perfect start – the ex-Man United man took care to stay onside before swivelling and drilling the ball into the bottom left corner to secure his first goal in 11 months.
In fact Chadwick nearly had the chance to put the game to bed after just ten minutes when he found himself clean through on goal, only for the set-up ball to hit the back of his heel and hand the possession back to The Addicks. The two sides are currently separated by a single point in League One, with Charlton in eighth and the Dons in 13th, so it promised to be a fairly evenly matched contest, and that was to be how the first half panned out on the whole.
Although Charlton initially found it hard to break through, overall they just had the better of the chances in the first half. Kyel Reid earned a free kick near the edge of the area, which he then blasted over, and Scott Wagstaff threatened with his pace down the wing.
Reid then saw another free kick wasted as it was blocked by the Dons wall, and just moments later Lewis Guy was just as frustrated at the other end as Jose Semedo appeared to block the strike with his face. Later on in the game Semedo could have been deemed fortunate to stay on the pitch after a crunching tackle on the Dons’ captain Lewington saw him escape with just a yellow card.
The Dons started the second half in much the same way as they had the first, lively and energetic, with Lewis Guy instantly bringing Addicks keeper Rob Elliot into the action. Just a minute afterwards, Aaron Wilbraham turned well and shot but couldn’t guide it the right side of the post.
And the Dons were to be punished for their missed chances, with Pawel Abbott hauling Charlton level with a skilled header after a fantastic cross from the right from Reid. Abbott thought he was clear to score just before he finally got his goal, when he found himself in a great position, only to be flagged by the linesman for handball.
MK immediately looked to get back into it, Wilbraham spurning a great chance that he couldn’t keep down, but hearts were in mouths for Dons fans as, from nowhere, Mathias Kouo-Doumbe got his foot on the end of a cross which he very nearly deflected into his own net, only for David Martin’s fingertips to come to the rescue.
Doumbe could have redeemed himself soon after, but his header rustled against the side netting. The central defender seemed intent on getting his name on the score sheet, and his header from a corner produced a fine save from Elliot, but there was no-one there to score from the rebound after a scramble in the box. Martin was then forced into an equally skilled save from Abbott at the other end, but again the linesman’s flag saved the home side’s blushes.
Reid later found space down the other flank, his well-timed run culminating in another excellent cross, this time finding Wagstaff after 85 minutes. He had been active all night, and the ball somehow made its way over everyone’s head. Lewington could only look on as Wagstaff fired Charlton a step closer to Wembley and ensured MK Dons’ miserable run against the Addicks continued.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.