REPORT: MK DONS 1 WIGAN ATHLETIC 3
FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic progressed to the fourth round of the competition after another epic battle against MK Dons, with substitute Nick Powell helping to pull Uwe Rosler's side from behind with a goal either side of extra time.
Marc-Antoine Fortune added a third goal just before half time in extra time to edge the game beyond the hosts, but Ali Al Habsi had to remain on his toes throughout the duration as MK Dons forced Latics to the final whistle.
Latics fell behind early on to a goal from Luke Chadwick, but Powell's impact from the bench saw Latics equalise 11 minutes from time, before taking the lead one minute into extra time.
Uwe Rosler made four changes from the 3-0 Championship victory over AFC Bournemouth, with James McClean, Roger Espinoza, Stephen Crainey and Fraser Fyvie all coming in to the starting line-up.
Latics re-shuffled at the back with Leon Barnett, Ben Watson and Chris McCann forming a back three.
It was a bright start from Latics and within two minutes McClean put MK Dons goalkeeper David Martin into action when strong work from Marc-Antoine Fortune saw the ball ricochet in the area between Fyvie and McClean, with the latter turning to shoot but not getting enough power on it to beat Martin.
Both sides battled for the early advantage and MK Dons claimed it on nine minutes as Latics lost their concentration and allowed Luke Chadwick to arrive late just inside the area as he side footed Samir Carruthers' cut back underneath Ali Al Habsi.
Latics weren't shy in creating chances though, with Fyvie forcing Martin into an outstretched save from the edge of the area and Espinoza fizzing the ball just over from a tight angle down the left.
Omani stopper Al Habsi was called into action on a number of occasions as the half continued, first tipping a Shaun Williams free kick wide for a corner, before following that up almost immediately with another fine save from Dean Lewington's left footed shot destined for the top right corner.
Latics clambered to clear for a spell, with McArthur deflecting a shot onto the post with Latics fans behind the goal grasping the edge of their seats.
In the final 10 minutes Latics came into their own, Espinoza again coming close as he dodged an outstretched leg on the edge of the area, but could only curl a right footed effort wide of the right post.
MK Dons struggled to compose themselves in defence at times such was the nature of the pitch at StadiumMK as it continued to cut up as the game went on.
The second half was another equal affair, with both sides having their own periods of dominace.
Latics best chance early on fell to Fyvie once more as he drilled a shot just wide of the left post, but moments later he was to be replaced in a double substitution, with the Scottish midfielder and James Perch being replaced by the game-changing Nick Powell and experienced Emmerson Boyce.
On 79 minutes Powell really introduced himself into the game and after a lot of positive work on the ball from the middle, he found himself celebrating in front of the 565 travelling Latics fans when he stole in at the front post to tap in an equaliser from Chris McCann's left sided cross.
Latics upped their game having taken the initiative, but neither side could find that vital goal before 90 minutes was up, meaning another 30 minutes followed.
A breather, a team talk and one minute into extra time Powell was at it again.
Excellent work from Fortune down the right side saw the powerful forward feed the ball into the path of Powell who started his one-on-one run at goal with pace.
The Manchester United loanee took the ball in his stride, dodged a sliding challenge from behind and clipped the ball over David Martin and in off the right post.
It could have been 3-1 a minute later when McCann forced a save from Martin down the left side of the area.
Substitute Jordi Gomez then had a golden opportunity one-one-one with Martin having beaten the offside trap, only to scuff a right footed shot wide of the left post.
On 105 minutes Latics finally found that third goal as Espinoza turned on the half way line to feed Fortune down the right.
Fortune did the rest, running at Lewington with the ball, shifting his body and dragging a left footed shot into the bottom right hand corner.
MK Dons didn't give up despite dropping two behind, similarly to their efforts in the first half of the first game at the DW Stadium.
This time though the luck wasn't on their side and Al Habsi thwarted them on a number of occasions.
Latics held onto their two goal lead and with a 3-1 victory they head into the fourth round of the FA Cup to host Crystal Palace.