The Bantams slipped to defeat in the Capital One Cup third round at the hands of MK Dons, with Benik Afobe’s double proving decisive.
The Arsenal loanee scored early in the first half and late in the second half to see his side through to the next round. City certainly produced a creditable performance and were bright in the second half but after trying hard to break the hosts’ resilience, Afobe’s counter attacking goal proved the knock-out blow.
Phil Parkinson made 4 changes to the side that were held to a goalless draw at Colchester at the weekend; Ben Williams came in for the ineligible Jordan Pickford, Mason Bennett came into the starting line-up with Gary Liddle moving to right back for Stephen Darby who was left out of the squad as an injury precaution. Oliver McBurnie came in for his second start of the season in place of Aaron Mclean and Filipe Morais came in to start ahead of Mark Yeates who dropped to the bench.
The hosts took the lead with the first real attack of the game; Dele Alli played a pass into the feet of Benik Afobe and the club’s top scorer turned neatly on the edge of the area before firing an excellent low shot into the bottom corner leaving Ben Williams with no chance of keeping him at bay.
Billy Clarke tried to act quickly on City going behind by going on a mazy run almost straight from the restart, a run similar to the one he went on last week, that one lead to a goal but this one only lead to David Martin making a relatively routine save.
Milton Keynes had started the game at a fast pace and looked lively in the final third, Ben Reeves seeing two shots in quick succession come close to goal, his first effort was held by Williams and his second attempt deflected narrowly over the crossbar.
City looked a danger on the counter attack with the pace of Filipe Morais and Mason Bennett in particular and they came close to forcing Martin into action down the other end. Christopher Routis produced an excellent raking pass which was controlled by Morais and he saw a cross met by the head of Billy Clarke but he couldn’t produce anything from his half attempt.
The hosts came close to a second goal from Antony Kay’s header before the first half was over and done with and perhaps might have had a penalty kick on another occasion, Samir Carruthers got beyond Bennett and into the area and went down but the referee Mick Russell deemed the challenge from Bennett a legal one and pointed for a corner kick much to the frustration of the former Aston Villa youngster.
Jordan Spence went close for the hosts early in the second half; Dean Bowditch turned neatly away from James Meredith before finding Spence on the overlap who fired a shot narrowly wide of the far post from a tight angle.
Goal scorer and eventual match winner Benik Afobe came close twice in quick succession early in the second half to doubling his side’s lead but he was denied brilliantly both times by Ben Williams, who had come into the side ahead of the ineligible Jordan Pickford.
Kyle McFadzean came forward from centre back and fired a low shot that cannoned back off the post, Reeves latched onto the loose ball but his effort deflected wide for a corner.
This close call seemed to spur City on to push for an equaliser even more and after Billy Clarke saw an audacious 30 yard free kick go comfortably over the bar Jason Kennedy saw a volley held by Martin, when had his effort from Morais’ cross gone either side of the Dons’ stopper, it would’ve brought the visitors an equaliser.
The Bantams pushed and pushed for an equaliser, applying some real pressure on Milton Keynes and first year apprentice striker Reece Webb-Foster was brought on to join the cavalry for his first team debut in the last few minutes of the game.
Despite a great effort by City to bring themselves back into the game and make amends for Afobe’s early goal, it was that man who fired in a second late on and seal the victory for his side. Highly-rated England youth international Dele Alli produced a through ball which was latched onto by Afobe who, in a one on one situation, finished confidently past Williams for his ninth goal of the season in all competitions.