DONS made the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history after a fine 2-0 third round replay win against Sheffield Wednesday, but the talk at stadiummk was about Blackpool’s reported interest in manager Karl Robinson.
The Seasiders, who have been without a boss since Michael Appleton left for Championship rivals Blackburn Rovers last week, are understood to have approached Dons in a bid to secure 32-year-old Robinson’s services.
Odds on him making the switch to Bloomfield Road were as short as 2/5 yesterday evening as news of Blackpool’s intentions broke just a couple of hours before kick-off in the cup tie.
After last night’s win he said he was due for talks with chairman Pete Winkelman about the news and said he found out about the link by watching television.
“Whatever happens, I think it’s fair that my decision is made internally,” he said. “When I speak to the chairman I’ll know a little bit more.”
Such a move would move Robinson closer to his Liverpool home but he is a manager who is used to interest from elsewhere and so far he has remained loyal to Dons. Regarded as one of the best up and coming coaching talents in the country, he has been linked with the likes of Blackburn and Crystal Palace in recent months but so far nobody has been successful in tempting him away.
He often speaks of his commitment and passion for the promotion dream being worked on at stadiummk, giving the impression that he intends to stay at the club for the long term.
Last season he signed a new three-year contract at the club he has been at since May 2010 and at the beginning of this campaign he unveiled a new backroom team featuring Mick Harford and Ian Wright.
Robinson’s men now face a round four trip to Queens Park Rangers who beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 last night. The Dons replay, needed because of a 0-0 draw at Hillsborough first time around, beat the freeze thanks to undersoil heating at the stadium being used for the first time.
Some drama was needed to liven up the contest after a quiet opening and referee Lee Collins obliged on 27 minutes by awarding the home side a penalty.
Owls defender Lewis Buxton grabbed a handful of Dean Bowditch’s shirt in the area and the spot kick was given despite the winger staying on his feet.
Shaun Williams stepped up and buried a finish past Stephen Bywater into the top left corner to give Dons the lead and the home side should have had another penalty just moments later.
Dan Powell was clearly tripped by a trailing leg as he sprinted in on goal and although he stumbled, he made the wrong decision by not going down and his close range strike was parried away by Bywater.
A penalty wasn’t given afterwards, prompting Robinson to vent his fury on the sidelines - a clear display of passion for the fortunes of his current employers.
Powell was booked for diving against Bury on Saturday, which could have had a baring on his decision, but it was a big chance to double the advantage before the break lost.
In the second half Gary MacKenzie, making his first start for Dons since hip surgery, saw a bouncing header just held by Bywater and Paul Corry volleyed straight at Dons keeper David Martin for the Owls.
It was a game of few clear-cut chances but a key second arrived for the hosts thanks to Bowditch’s crossed free-kick from the left flank, which evaded everyone and curled into the far corner.
It means a trip to QPR on January 26 for Dons, the same team who ended their FA Cup progress in the third round last year.
A 1-1 draw at stadiummk was controversial as Heidar Helguson’s late leveller for the Rs was offside, and in the replay Dons were unlucky to lose 1-0 after dominating most of the game at Loftus Road.
“It would be nice to put one back over them,” Robinson said.
Dons: Martin, Otsemobor, Lewington, MacKenzie (Doumbe 72), Williams, Potter, Bowditch (Chicksen 78), Smith, Lowe, Powell (Alli 87), Kay.
Unused subs: Doumbe, Chicksen, Harley, Rasulo, Ismail.
Sheff Wed: Bywater, Buxton, Taylor, Semedo, Madine, Johnson (Mayer 11) Mattock, Pecnik (O’Grady 54), Lee (Antonio 63), Corry, Llera.
Unused subs: Davies, Sidibe, Jones, Coke.