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VIDEO: Venom and drama as MK Dons edge cup grudge match

The ‘franchise club’ ultimately triumphed this afternoon, thanks to a late goal.

Milton Keynes Dons Jon Otsemobor (right) celebrates scoring his teams second goal of the game with teammate Antony Kay (left).
Milton Keynes Dons Jon Otsemobor (right) celebrates scoring his teams second goal of the game with teammate Antony Kay (left).

TEN YEARS MAY  have passed, but emotions ran high as AFC Wimbledon were dramatically beaten 2-1 by sworn enemies MK Dons in their FA Cup second-round tie on Sunday.

MK Dons, the ‘franchise club’ accused of stealing Wimbledon’s birthright, booked their place in the third round in injury time when Jon Otsemobor flicked home an outrageous back-heeled winner.

But that did not tell half the story of a cup game played out against a backdrop of painful memories.

The world’s oldest cup competition has thrown together some of the biggest rivals in English football down the years, but this encounter was always going to take some beating in terms of historical context and depth of emotion.

MK Dons were accused of identity theft and this second-round tie stirred up bitter memories.

AFC Wimbledon — the club formed by furious supporters a decade ago after the Football Association allowed Wimbledon’s owners to move the club 56 miles north to Milton Keynes — have risen from the ashes in spectacular fashion.

Their jump up the football pyramid, having relaunched in the non-league Counties Combined League, has seen them earn five promotions in nine years, and now just one league separate these two clubs.

The relocation provoked hostility and it was little surprise that old wounds were re-opened when the teams met for the first time.

Pete Winkleman, MK Dons’ chairman, rolled out the red carpet for their visitors, but AFC Wimbledon’s board, who want their hosts to drop the ‘Dons’ suffix from their name, turned down the hospitality.

Hundreds of fans boycotted the game and chief executive Erik Samuelson refused to attend.

Around 3,000 away fans travelled, some in decontamination suits, while many others carried banners with the word ‘scum’ replacing ‘Dons’ in MK Dons’ name.

It took just 10 minutes before a light aircraft hired by fans of the visiting side flew over the Stadium MK displaying a ‘We are Wimbledon’ sign.

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AFC Wimbledon, whose predecessors, the Crazy Gang, won this competition in 1988, have not forgiven MK Dons for upping sticks and taking the family silver with them.

For all the hype, the match struggled to live up to expectations, but emotions were kept in check on the pitch with only three bookings.

A major police presence endured that that was the same off the pitch, although jubilant visiting fans streamed onto the pitch after AFC Wimbledon’s equaliser.

Stephen Gleeson’s superb long-range strike put MK Dons in front on the stroke of half-time.

The League One club, who are vying for promotion to the second-tier Championship, missed chances to end the tie before Jack Midson’s headed equaliser on the hour mark.

There looked like there would be no winner — much like the tale of the two clubs, perhaps — before Otsemobor nonchalantly stuck out his heel to guide the ball into the top-right corner and break AFC Wimbledon’s hearts all over again.

- © AFP, 2012

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