MK Dons 1-5 Crawley Town (Agg 1-8): Danilo Orsi scores twice as ruthless Reds reach League Two play-off final

by 24britishtvMay 11, 2024, 11 p.m. 22
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Crawley blew MK Dons away for the second time in a matter of days as a 5-1 victory at Stadium MK - and an 8-1 win on aggregate - took them to the Sky Bet League Two play-off final.

Scott Lindsey's side had established a 3-0 first-leg lead in West Sussex on Tuesday - and that was extended to 5-0 within the first half-hour in Buckinghamshire, courtesy of Jay Williams and Danilo Orsi.

Max Dean volleyed in to pull one back for the hosts, but the two-goal cushion on the night was restored by Orsi after slick build-up between Klaidi Lolos and Liam Kelly.
• How the teams lined up | Match stats
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Dean saw a penalty well-saved by Reds goalkeeper Corey Addai, before Jack Roles came off the bench to smash in a fourth, shortly after he had crashed a shot off the left-hand post.

Orsi then turned in a Ronan Darcy cross in second-half stoppage time to complete his hat-trick and round off a thoroughly one-sided affair.

Crawley will face Crewe at Wembley on Sunday May 19 - live on Sky Sports Football - with a place in Sky Bet League One at stake.

Only once has a deficit of three goals or more been successfully overturned in play-off history - when Sheffield Wednesday beat Peterborough last season - so MK Dons boss Mike Williamson called for "relentless" attacking from his players to turn the game in their favour.

Three minutes in, the difficulty of their task was cranked up a notch when Williams stormed forward from midfield, pinched the ball from Alex Gilbey and squeezed a shot into the bottom left corner under pressure.

MK enjoyed spells of possession after that, but they were passive with it and so it came as little surprise when Crawley - who looked like the home side - established a 5-0 aggregate lead with Orsi taking advantage of Dan Harvie's misjudging of a bounce and firing in his 22nd goal in all competitions this season.

In first-half stoppage-time, Dean volleyed in to halve the deficit on the night after a lapse in concentration at the back, though there were question marks over whether he should have even been still on the pitch after appearing to stamp on Williams earlier in the half.

Two minutes into the second half, Crawley had restored their two-goal cushion on the night in style, with Klaidi Lolos threading the ball to Liam Kelly, who squared for Orsi to nonchalantly roll in his second of the night. The shouts of 'ole' could be heard from the away section by this point.

MK then won a penalty when Kelly was adjudged to have handled Ellis Harrison's cross, but Dean was unable to beat Corey Addai, who dived to his right to bat the spot-kick away.

As the hosts' energy began to wane, Roles tried to catch them out with an early shot that hit the post after the slightest of touches from goalkeeper Filip Marschall, but he did manage to put one away shortly afterwards, taking charge after Orsi had held the ball up.

And it got even better for the ruthless Reds, as Orsi bundled in to complete his treble on an incredibly memorable night.

Analysis: Brilliant Orsi leads Reds to Wembley for the first time

"Danilo Orsi barely got a sniff in the first leg at Broadfield earlier this week, with just two shots and 19 touches throughout the entirety of the game. But the best strikers pop up when they are needed most - and that's exactly what he did this time around.

"He only managed 23 touches at Stadium MK, but that was all he needed for his first hat-trick since the one he scored for Harrogate in the EFL Trophy back in August 2021. He was composed with the first, as cool as you like with the second and inventive with the third, which added the gloss late on.

"The 28-year-old has thrived under Scott Lindsey this term and will be one of the key components if they are to succeed at Wembley next weekend."

"We just ran out of steam in terms of the season, the night. I feel for the boys in there because it's a real, real tough one to take. I've had some tough days in football and I think this is up there with the hardest time and defeat.

"Those boys have given everything; I don't look at it on a one-off occasion, I look at it over the course since we've come in and they've run their socks off. Even today when we lost our composure and our shape, they still carried on running. For me, that's going to take them a long way.

"What I know about football is when you're hurting, you have to react to it and that is just getting your head down and working hard.

"I need to say congratulations to them. I thought they were excellent over both legs. For us, it was another night of what could go wrong did go wrong. The early goal was hard to take, but the boys didn't change the way they wanted to play in the first half and until we got to the last 20 minutes, it opened up completely and I felt it got away from us."

"I'm really proud. We came into this game really humble and really respectful that we had another task in the shape of MK Dons - who are a very good side. Even though we were 3-0 in front at half time, as it were, we felt we still had a lot to do, so we kept our feet firmly on the ground coming into the game.

"My boys didn't half perform well tonight - I thought we were outstanding. We scored some great goals, we were aggressive in the press and aggressive with the ball.

"As a manager, you know how football can be - it's got a nasty habit of kicking you where it hurts, so you never really relax until the final whistle, if I'm honest with you. But I actually enjoyed certainly the last 20 minutes where we were brilliant with the ball. We picked them off, made them run and it was clear to see they got frustrated with that.

"We'll recover tomorrow and we'll be back in on Monday and getting to work. We'll watch Crewe at length and in detail, start putting a gameplan together in the early part of the week and nothing will change with our preparation. We're really looking forward to it."

Crawley advance to the Sky Bet League Two play-off final, where they will face Crewe at Wembley on Sunday May 19, live on Sky Sports Football.

MK Dons will remain in the fourth tier for the 2024/25 campaign.

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