Carabao Cup

Forest Green 0

MK Dons 1

AET Ariyibi (110' minutes)

FOREST GREEN were a whisker away from hitting the high notes  in a fizzing Carabao Cup tie.

Mark Cooper's side pushed MK Dons to the wire on a marathon night.

The first-round tie looked to be heading for penalties until Gboly Ariyibi thumped a sumptuous strike in the 110th minute for the League One outfit. But Rovers' Shamir Mullings was left to rue a late miss to take the tie into 'ABBA' time, the new penalty format which mirrors the format of a tie break in tennis.

Earlier, Cooper made four changes from the team that earned a point in their opening League Two match of the season. Keeper Brad Collins sat out due to a knock with Sam Russell taking his place. West Brom loanee Jack Fitzwater Dan Wishart and Luke James were given opportunies. Scott Laird, Drissa Traore and Callum Evans dropped to the bench.

The Dons, who lost their League One curtain-raiser at home to Wigan, made three tweaks to their starting line-up.

Like Rovers, MK Dons like to pass the ball and a flurry of neat exchanges ended with Paul Downing striking into the relieved Sam Russell.

The game lacked intensity, but cards came for Ousseynou Cisse  and Ethan Ebanks-Landell was  booked soonafter for his part in the lead up to Ed Upson’s grappling attempt on the elusive Christian Doidge.

Rovers were contained, but a driving run and shot from Doidge raised the tempo and tested Lee Nicholls.

On the cusp of the break, George Williams became the third Dons player to go in the book, for hauling back Doidge.

Ed Upson arrowed one over for MK Dons at the resumption and then Liam Noble watched his stinger deflected as Rovers found their second-half feet.

The game opened up, Doidge was agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock after James nipped by Cisse.

Back came the Dons -  Aaron Tshibola almost finding Russell’s bottom corner from the edge of the box. Upson then spanked one wide as the clock ticked.

Muscular sub Mullings made an immediate impact, but his towering 73rd minute header fell easily for Nicholls.

Rovers were turning up the heat. Mullings watched his close range stab blocked from a Charlie Cooper cross.

However, MK Dons introduced one-time Bristol City striker Kieran Agard and he fizzed over on the angle.

It was end-to-end, Nicholls tipping over a Noble stinger from a Cooper assist and Russell shovelling a dipping  Ariyibi hit  clear with three minutes of normal time to go.

As the tie slipped into added time, the industrious James nodded wide of the post from an excellent Collins delivery.

The excitement was tangible - Mullings got his angles wrong at the death and Ariyibi smashed one off target.

Extra-time saw Scott Laird mark his 104th-minute introduction with what should have been  the first goal of the night from a Cooper corner, but his free header kissed the bar with the net ready to bulge.

With 'ABBA' time drawing nearer,  MK Dons found the winner with a moment of pure gold. Ariyibi was given time and space to arrow a ball from the edge of the box and beyond the diving Russell.

The drama from this tie was far from over. Mullings was tugged on the edge of the area by defender Downing and despite the calls for a red he was handed a yellow. Rovers sensed an opportunity, but  Noble’s free-kick found the arms of Nicholls.

Rovers kept at it and with five minutes of extra-time left Nicholls pulled off a flying save from a Keanu Marsh-Brown curler.

Nicholls was inspired and somehow denied Collins from point-blank range from Cooper’s corner.

The last steps in this pulsating cup tie should have taken the game into 'ABBA' shoot-out, but Mullings side-footed wide from a Laird cross.

FOREST GREEN: Russell 7; Collins 9, Fitzwater 8, Monthe 7 (Laird 103, 7); Bennett 7, Noble 7, Cooper 7, Wishart 7 (Traroe 73, 7); Brown 7 (Marsh-Brown 57, 6); James 7, Doidge 7 (Mullings 73, 6)

Attendance: 1,608

Away fans: 343

Star Man: Lee Collins.