DONS manager Karl Robinson will be hoping that his side’s nightmare Easter weekend doesn’t eventually cost them as they twice blew the chance to make 100 per cent sure of a play-off place.
Saturday’s disappointing 3-1 defeat at home against Huddersfield Town was quickly followed by an equally poor 1-0 defeat at Plymouth Argyle on Monday, leaving Dons still needing a win from their remaining two League One games to be absolutely sure of making the top six this season.
The good news if that they remain in fifth place and one point better of than Bournemouth who beat Bristol Rovers 2-1, and the only side left who can now break into the play-off spots are Leyton Orient who won 1-0 away at Carlisle, as Rochdale fell off the pace with their 3-1 defeat at Charlton.
Dons can consider themselves a bit unlucky to take nothing away from their Easter games, but that didn’t stop boss Robinson from blaming his side’s poor finishing for the fact that they still have work to do, when they could and maybe should have already confirmed a place in the play-offs.
“We dominated the game, but can’t miss chances like we have been,” said Robinson after that defeat in Plymouth.
“We had 10 or 12 gilt-edged chances in the last two games, and I can’t fault the attitude of the players. It hurts me because I can’t ask for any more but we can’t keep coming away to these places and missing these chances.
“When you’re on top, you have got to take these chances. And that’s the most disappointing thing today. We’ve got to move on though.
“I’m still really happy with the players and we will just regroup this week for a tough game against Notts County.”
A couple of weeks ago the talk was still about potentially breaking into the top two, but after automatic promotion was ruled out for certain following that defeat to Huddersfield, Robinson now admits his side are getting a bit anxious about guaranteeing their play-off place.
“They still need to win their final two games and we only need one,” he said on the subject of Leyton Orient closing the gap on the top six to four points.
“And if you’d have offered that to us at the beginning of the season with the money problems we have, I’m sure we would have snapped your hands off.
“We’re in a good position, and we’ve got to move forward. We have to roll our sleeves up and make sure this season doesn’t fizzle out.
“It’s not going to knock the players’ confidence - it’s important we keep doing the right things, keep positive, and push for the end of the season.”
The only goal of the game came after 21 minutes when Simon Walton lashed home from the edge of the penalty area to give Plymouth hope of pulling off an extraordinary relegation escape. They would now climb out of the bottom four if they win their game in hand over their rivals at the foot of the table.
But it should have been far different for Dons as they went about bouncing back from Good Friday’s defeat against Huddersfield by making just one change to their starting line-up - Jabo Ibehre replacing Sam Baldock up front.
The visitors began the game well, but the warning signs were there, with the hosts going close when Yala Bolasie was just off target with his header inside the first 10 minutes.
Just like against Huddersfield, Dons’ lack of creativity in the final third cost them as Plymouth took the lead on 21 minutes. Sean O’Hanlon’s needless foul on Bolasie gave Walton a chance from the corner of the penalty area to whip across a free-kick, which evaded the Dons defence and left David Martin flat footed as the ball dropped into the far corner of the net.
Dons had three great chances to get back into the game five minutes later when Daniel Powell created space for himself in the area, but his low shot was well saved by keeper David Button. The rebound looked to be put in by Angelo Balanta, but Karl Duguid was able to block on the line. Still not fully clear, the ball fell to Peter Leven, but his shot flew over the bar and Plymouth escaped.
Argyle had weathered the storm, but it turned out to be just a quick shower as only a 30 yard Leven strike before the break had Button worried again.
Ibehre headed just over early in the second half while at the other end Luke Summerfield’s hooked effort almost beat Martin. But Dons really should have taken something from the game when Keanu Marsh-Brown was twice denied in superb style by Button.
Dons were certainly left frustrated, but they remain on course to make the play-offs and will get their chance to bounce back when Notts County come to stadium:mk this Saturday.