MK Dons have one foot in the next round of the EFL Trophy after Jack Payne’s penalty secured their second win of the competition on Tuesday night, beating Oxford United 1-0 at the Kassam Stadium.
Payne was sent tumbling in the penalty area ten minutes into the second-half and dusted himself down to convert from the spot to see off their League One opponents.
Graham Alexander made ten changes to his side for the trip to the Kassam Stadium. Handing first starts to Michael Kelly, Joe Tomlinson, Jack Payne and Ellis Tomlinson, Anthony Stewart also made his first appearance for the club since returning on transfer deadline day, while MJ Williams also came in after missing several weeks through injury.
With counterpart Liam Manning also making ten chances to his side for the game, the first-half looked exactly like two sides who had not played a lot of football together this season.
Conor Grant was a lively option for the visitors in the centre of the park, along with Jack Payne coming in to make his first start as Dons pressed up the pitch early on in the encounter.
Clear-cut chances were hard to come by despite the game flowing from end-to-end, but Max Dean had three decent sights of goal, and would have been disappointed to only force keeper Simon Eastwood into a single save from them.
At the other end, Tyler Goodrham thought he had taken the lead when his shot, deflected off Dean Lewington, spun towards goal almost in slow-motion only to roll just wide of Michael Kelly's upright, while Oisin Smyth's free-kick in first-half stoppage time clipped the top of the bar in a goal-less first-half.
The game got a much-needed goal though 11 minutes into the second-half when Jack Payne was downed as he skipped through Oxford's challenges in the box, dusting himself off to smash home from the spot to give the hosts the lead.
With the game already looking like two sides who were unfamiliar with playing alongside each other, and the game turned scrappy as neither looked fluid, especially when both coaches began to make changes.
The best chances thereafter fell to the substitutes though, with Josh Murphy narrowly missing the target for the hosts before Jonathan Leko saw a good effort blocked from the edge of the box.
Deep into stoppage time, Sonny Perkins had some of the thinning home fans celebrating with a shot they thought had snuck in, but it in fact had his the support post behind the goal, rolling deceptively along the back of the net, albeit on the wrong side.
Referee: Alan Young
Oxford United: Eastwood, Thorniley (Brown 56), McEachran (Johnson 56), Harris, Smyth, Stevens, Perkins, Goodrham (Murphy 56), Leigh, Woltman, Negru
Subs not used: Beadle, Long, Mills, Brannagan
MK Dons: Kelly, Lewington, O’Hora, Stewart (Harvie 62), Ilunga, Tomlinson, Grant, Williams (Tripp 46), Payne, Dean, Harrison (Leko 62)
Subs: MacGillivray, Gilbey, Anker, Scholtz
Booked: Stewart, Tomlinson, Lewington, McEachran, Tripp, Harvie