BARNSLEY marched to the last eight of the FA Cup thanks to a Chris Dagnall brace and a Marlon Harewood effort.with a much-coveted FA Cup quarter-final up for grabs it was no surprise that a packed-out stadium:mk was buzzing in the run-up to kick-off.
David Flitcroft’s battlers hadn’t conceded any goals in their earlier two Cup games this year, so a run similar to the one which led the Reds all the way to Wembley five years ago was on the cards again.
The Reds got a dream start with a simply-worked opening goal.
Mellis lofted a long through-ball into DAGNALL’s path and the front-man took a neat touch before slotting a low, angled shot past the despairing dive of Martin.
It was no urprise when the Reds went 2-0 up after 19 minutes.
It was another superbly-structured goal as Mellis fed marauding defender Wiseman down the right. The former Rochdale man got to the by-line before cutting a cross superbly back into HAREWOOD’s path and the experienced striker coolly slotted home from 15 yards.
Dagnall almost nipped in for another chance when centre-back Williams slipped but somehow just managed to get back to his feet and clear as Dagnall threatened to streak clear.
The Dons broke at pace and Powell looked to get on the end of Smith’s flick-on, but still there were no dramas for the Reds as the impressive Kennedy got back again to clear the ball for a corner-kick which thankfully came to nothing.
Perkins was putting in another terrific shift for the Reds, and he best epitomised the team’s first-half display as he was working tirelessly once again, breaking down attacks and stifling any creativity the Dons could muster.
It had been as near to a perfect first half as the Reds could possibly have hoped for, and they easily held on to their two-goal cushion as the two sets of players went in for the interval.
The managers made a change apiece at the break.
For the Reds, scorer Harewood may have picked up a knock as he was replaced by hit-man Scotland, while the Dons were clearly after injecting a bit more pace as they called on quickfire wide-man Chicksen.
Lewington went close with a close-range header as the hosts sought a rapid response, before Reds midfielder Etuhu appeared to suffer a nasty bang to the head in the 53rd minute and was down receiving treatment for five minutes before being stretchered off.
O’Brien was his replacement.
Just beyond the hour mark he Dons finally breached the Reds’ defence.
Potter slid a pass perfectly into the path of BOWDITCH and the hosts’ front-man kept his head before guiding a well-struck effort past Steele and into the corner.
Robinson’s charges were buoyed by the goal, anda free-kick from inches outside the Reds’ box was fired in by Williams, but his ferocious shot just cleared the bar.
Steele produced a breath-taking point-blank save to keep out Smith’s bullet header, and was agile again in getting down low to palm away another well-struck free-kick from Williams.
Barnsley grabbed a third killer goal in the second of 12 minutes of added time when DAGNALL latched onto Perkins’ precise through-ball, rounded keeper Martin and rolled the ball into the empty net to book the Reds’ place in the Cup quarter-finals.
Dons’ Smith was red-carded for a crude elbow on Mellis in the dying seconds.