The Carling Cup/League Cup/EFL Cup/whatever they call it has certainly given me some of my best memories as an MK Dons fan.
It’s equally brought me plenty of heartbreak – the late crumble against Sheffield United, that young outfit being narrowly beaten on penalties by Reading. But that’s the magic of the cup.
Since the demise of the EFL Trophy/Johnstone’s Paint, I’ve taken a big liking to this competition. Much like the FA Cup, it offers smaller sides, such as us, the opportunity to play Premier League outfits early on in the season. Not only does it have its financial benefits leading up to the January window, but it also fills that empty, meaningless void of which games during the first term of the season often consist.
Football is all about excitement, something which has perhaps come into the limelight recently with the introduction of VAR in the Premier League (ew, pains me to say those two words). That Manchester United game gave me more excitement than I’ll ever experience – the feeling, as a 15 year old, to see my local team absolute tank the three times European Champions. Indescribable.
On the whole, we’ve taken it fairly seriously over the past few years – 16/17 aside. We’ve played strong teams with intention of progressing to the next round, played attacking football in these games – albeit both are probably somewhat helped by our draw luck over the past few years.
That 16/17 season, however, was arguably my second favourite run – seeing our young lads give it all on the big stage was wonderful to watch, and I’ll never forget that Ben Tilney goal.
Last year we were unfortunate – a very good win against an admittedly weakened Charlton side followed by a strong showing against an even stronger Bournemouth outfit. No shame in being beat by Premier League opposition as a League Two side.
But this season I’d like to see us go further.
With less focus on the league – no immediate need to secure promotion alongside hopefully not being in a relegation battle – it’d be great to create some more history (queue the jokes) in this competition. I’d be more than partial to sacrificing a few league points for us to go on a little cup run.
Yes, full strength as we need to bounce back strongly
— ???? ???????? (@RwillsMKD) August 27, 2019
We’ve had our fair share of luck so far – beating AFC Wimbledon on penalties followed by drawing Southend United, a side who have so far lost every league game. With the likes of Healey, Gilbey and Cargill coming back into the side – let’s turn that luck into success.