Stevenage v MK Dons (PA)
16 November 2021

Robbie O’Keefe could not watch crucial penalty in win over MK Dons

16 November 2021

Stevenage caretaker manager Robbie O’Keefe Stevenage v MK Dons admitted he could not bear to watch Luke Norris’ penalty, which earned his side a 2-1 victory in their FA Cup first-round replay against MK Dons.

Norris held his nerve from 12 yards in the last minute of extra time to dump out the nine-man Dons and earn the ‘Boro a second-round tie at Yeovil.

O’Keefe only found out he was taking charge the previously day, following the sacking of manager Alex Revell on Sunday night and he oversaw a dramatic finish at the Lamex Stadium.

“To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a penalty in my time as a manager,” O’Keefe said.

“I didn’t watch that one either, so obviously it was really nervous.

“We knew what the time on the clock was, but if I’m honest, if you are going to get a penalty in the last minute, I’d want Luke on it.

“I’m told he buried it and the rest was history, we’re through.”

When asked what happens next, in terms of how long he’ll be in charge, O’Keefe, who confirmed he doesn’t want the job permanently, said: “I’ll just wait for the club.

“The club will do the right thing, as they always try to do.

“For me, I’m here tomorrow with the kids in the FA Youth Cup, against Sutton United. That’s the next most important game, so we want to progress in that as well.

“If nothing changes, then on Thursday I’ll be back with the first team again.”

MK Dons went ahead after 36 minutes when Harry Darling bundled in Josh McEachran’s corner, but they had Josh Martin sent off right on half-time for a perceived shove on Bruno Andrade.

Stevenage’s Jamie Reid forced extra time by heading in Ben Coker’s cross before Norris snatched it at the death, after Darling was shown red as well for bringing down Elliott List in the box.

MK Dons boss Liam Manning said: “We’re just frustrated, more than anything.

“I thought the game was ruined by a terrible decision, ultimately.

“I split the game into pre-sending-off and post-sending-off, and pre-sending-off, I really was not happy, to be totally honest.

“We lacked quality, we lacked discipline, made too many mistakes, then we started to get into the game and solve the problem of their system, in terms of how they played.

“I’ve seen the video back (of the Martin red card)– his arm is up slightly, but there’s no slap, there’s no intention on it.

“When you look at it from that perspective, I don’t know what the referee’s seen, to be totally honest. I’m a little bit baffled.

“Post-sending-off, I thought we showed some character, some good togetherness and a real desire to work.”

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