11pm: Karl Robinson was an extremely angry yet proud man after seeing Dons bow out of the play-offs. It really was a horrible way for the season to end, but when the dust settles fans will be able to look back on a terrific few months.
9.45pm: Dons’ season is over, beaten 2-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate in the League One play-offs. To be honest the writing was on the wall as soon as Grant McCann fired in a free-kick from just outside the penalty area after little more than 10 minutes.
Dons had chances to draw level - Daniel Powell hitting the crossbar shortly before the break - but in truth they never really got going and Posh made them pay. Craig Mackail-Smith’s goal 10 minutes into the second half gave the hosts the lead on aggregate and they never looked like losing it. In fact they should have won by more in the end as Dons started to take chances going forward, but for all their effort Paul Jones was hardly tested.
So that’s it - the bragging rights go to Posh again. Dons gave it their all, but the second goal on the night was a killer blow and Robinson’s men were left heartbroken. Losing is bad enough, but to lose by a single goal after Stephen Gleeson’s sending off and McCann’s first leg ‘penalty’ makes it even harder to take.
8.35pm: Well needless to say it’s been a disappointing first half as far as the scoreline goes, but Dons can consider themselves pretty unlucky to be 1-0 down on the night, making it 3-3 on aggregate at half time.
The only goal of the first half came on 11 minutes - Grant McCann’s free-kick from just outside the penalty area deceiving David Martin who should have done better. Dons could - and probably should - have been level at the break, but Daniel Powell smashed his shot against the crossbar from just a couple of yards out. Other than that it’s been as expected - end to end. Dons have been the better side, but they need to find that breakthrough. Extra time anyone? Watch this space...
7.30pm: One vital question will be answered in the next couple of hours. Who was right - a mystic meerkat, or a concrete cow? Kick-off is only a few minutes away. COME ON YOU DONS!
Rowan Vine tells local radio: “I wish I was out there playing for Dons.”
7.15pm: The nerves are starting to kick in again now with just over half an hour to go before kick-off. The teams have been out warming up and the ground is starting to fill up nicely, with Dons’ travelling contingent starting to make themselves heard.
Dons were the better team on Sunday and should have won by more than one goal - indeed they would have but for a dodgy call from the referee. But that’s all over with now. It’s simple, don’t lose, and Dons are going to Old Trafford.
Just another point of interest is that Posh keeper Joe Lewis is to have an operation on his fractured kneecap tomorrow. Good luck to him. Dons are unchanged from the team which earned that 3-2 win on Sunday while Posh make three changes. Stephen Gleeson can play after having his red card in that game rescinded - and who would bet against him playing a big part tonight! The first goal tonight is massive - let’s hope Dons get it. Or 0-0 would do nicely thanks.
6.15pm: Well, we’ve now got just 90 minutes to go before the start of the biggest 90 minutes Dons have ever played - and the roads around London Road are starting to get very busy...
Fans from both sides are starting to arrive and populate the local drinking establishments, and the atmosphere is building nicely. Our man Toby is on the ground in Peterborough and with the sun shinning it looks set to be a night to remember - hopefully for the right reasons.
We had one final chat with Pete Winkelman about an hour ago and he reiterated his thoughts that the pressure is all on Posh! Let’s see how they cope with that pressure. The Dons team have had their pre-match meeting at their hotel and now it’s off to the ground. Good luck lads!
5pm: The Dons team arrived in Peterborough at around 4.30pm and have just been enjoying a nice leisurely stroll around the grounds of the hotel they have checked into. Relaxed and ready for business seems to be the feeling. Like all the fans on route, they probably can’t wait for the game to start.
4.30pm: Fans are starting to gather outside stadium:mk as Dons’ fleet of supporters’ coaches gets ready to leave for Posh. And our very own Toby Lock has just set off - and he’s very nervous!
Dons have been in this position before of course, but this time it seems to matter even more than those games against Shrewsbury and Scunthorpe. Maybe it’s because it’s against Posh this time, or maybe it’s because Dons are currently riding the crest of a wave under Robinson. Missing out on promotion this year certainly won’t be a disaster, but right now it means everything to those fans heading up the A1. Come on you Dons!
4pm: I’ve just been reading that Posh will be presenting past play-off heroes to the London Road crowd before tonight’s game. They have a 100 per cent record when it comes to the play-offs, don’t you know...
Posh beat Stockport in the third tier final in 1992 and Darlington in the fourth tier in 2000. One of those former players who will take to the pitch before tonight’s game is Andy Clarke who scored the winner in that Wembley final against Darlo. That’s the same Andy Clarke who played more than 150 games for Wimbledon in the 90s.
So Posh have a 100 per cent record in the play-offs from their two campaigns, whereas Dons have fallen at the semi final hurdle in their previous forays. Something’s got to give. Maybe another lucky omen for Dons? Let’s hope Posh’s current crop of playing don’t do anything that sees them doing something similar to Clarke and co in the years to come.
3.15pm: The Dons team bus has just set off from stadium:mk. The club have been extremely keen to treat this game just like any other, but you can’t help but wonder what the atmosphere must be like on board.
Robinson and company clearly want to give the players the feeling that this is an ordinary game, in the hope they will replicate the sort of form that has seen them vastly improve their record on the road in the second half of the season, including going on an eight-game unbeaten run towards the end of the campaign.
But the reality is that this is no ordinary game, and to treat it like a trip to Tranmere could prove costly. Posh certainly won’t be.
2.15pm: Let’s take a look at the early team news ahead of the game, and thanks to all the Posh fans who have been leaving their messages. You seem a bit obsessed with attendances, so let’s have a quick look at the stats.
I’ve lost count of the amount of emails and messages I’ve seen so far today from Posh fans having a dig about Dons’ travelling support for tonight. OK you may have brought 4,000 plus to stadium:mk on Sunday, but really, you don’t have a leg to stand on. Dons have the fifth highest average attendance in League One this season (8,685) while Posh are down in 11th place (6,449). Who are the ‘glory hunters’ again?
Anyway that’s enough of that, let’s have a look at the team news. Stephen Gleeson’s red card being rescinded on Tuesday means Karl Robinson is expected to name an unchanged side to that which thumped Posh 3-2, or 3-1 on legitimate goals. Darren Ferguson will have to make at least two changes to his team though with left-back Charlie Lee suspended and ‘keeper Joe Lewis missing out with a ‘fractured knee’. Fair play to him for playing on for the majority of the first half after suffering that! And fair play to Gabriel Zakuani as well. He’s expected to play despite also being withdrawn before the break on Sunday following a clash with Sam Baldock.
Zakuani told the Peterboorugh ET today: “I’ve had a couple of sleepless nights since. I’ve had to leave my bed to go on the sofa because every time I turn over it’s painful.
“But I’ve been taking tablets and I’ll have a pain-killing injection before the match as it’s a game I don’t want to miss. We need our best players out for this one so I hope I’m selected and I can help the lads get through.
“We’re certainly confident that we can overturn one goal playing at home. If we do that the pain will have been worth it. I watched the second-half of the first match after I went off and we just suffered a terrible 10-minute spell when we conceded three goals, but after that we played okay again. But Grant McCann’s penalty late on was crucial.”
He’s right about the penalty being crucial. Let’s just hope we’re not left talking about it again tomorrow!!!
1.45pm: So we’re just six hours from the game that will make or break Dons’ season. Whoever invented the idea of the play-offs was a genius...
English football is all about tradition - the Boxing Day and New Year’s Day fixtures, plus FA Cup third round day etc. And the play-offs have become a part of that. No other games - not even FA Cup ties - can match the drama and nervous excitement that comes with the play-offs.
Unfortunately the tradition of the FA Cup final bringing the curtain down on the season disappeared this year - and next apparently - but the play-offs are alive and kicking, and it seems never more popular. You don’t hear many people calling for the end of them any more.
Dons fans will be thinking about setting off for Peterborough soon. There are probably many starting to finish work early and getting off home to get ready. So if you’re one of the near 2,000 Dons fans making then the trip then have a safe one, and get behind the lads!
12pm: I think I may have found a bit of a lucky omen ahead of the game. It’s a bit tenuous, but stick with him here...
Swansea will take on Reading in the Championship play-off final after they saw off Nottingham Forest and Cardiff respectively earlier this week. That means the final to decide who gets to play in the Premier League next season will be between the teams who finished the regular season in third (Swansea) and fifth (Reading). And after Huddersfield - who finished third in League One - booked their play-off final place last night... well, you see where I’m going here.
So if fifth placed Dons do fulfil their destiny and make the final, then get down the bookies and lump on Shrewsbury and Stevenage to meet in the League Two showpiece. Although with more automatic promotion places in that division things change slightly, but... OK, I’ll stop!
11am: We’d be interested to know how Dons fans are passing the time today. I bet there are a lot of offices and work places not quite as busy as they would normally be on a Thursday morning...
It’s the same here. In fact, to pass the time I’ve even checked the weather forecast for tonight. It’s going to remain dry with a max temperature of 17°C during the afternoon - not too bad if you’re planning on getting to Peterborough early for some grub. It might get a little chilly later on though, and sunset will be at 20.56pm - by which time we’ll be well into the second half, and who knows what will be happening? I’ll avoid any puns about the sun setting on Posh’s promotion hopes etc!
Emaul us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you’re doing to pass the time today.
10.30am: Huddersfield aren’t wasting any time - they already have play-off final ticket information up on their official website, and they’ve been given the Stretford End of Old Trafford.
Town fans have been given just over 35,000 tickets - but they’re not cheap. Adult fans will have to pay a minimum of £30, although the majority will probably end up paying £40 or £44. Or if you really want to splash out and be one of those famous prawn sandwich munchers for the day then you can pay £60 and have the best view in the house.
The FA were probably pleased to see Huddersfield get to their final. Their fans only have a short trip over the Pennines and I’d be surprised if they take less than 30,000.
10am: Just been given official ticket details for tonight’s game. 1,967 Dons fans will make the trip to Peterborough - that’s the biggest number the club has ever taken to an away game. Have fun!
Eleven supporters’ coaches will leave stadium:mk at 5pm this afternoon. The Dons team will also be setting off from home, but we’re not sure what time yet.
9.45am: ‘THE DON BUSTERS’ is the front page headline on the Peterboorugh ET today - that’s a reference to The Dam Busters movie, if you wasn’t sure!
Posh certainly seem confident of overturning their 3-2 first leg deficit and are putting a lot of faith in the backing they’re going to get from their home crowd. It seems Posh will be backed by just over 10,000 fans at London Road, with Dons tacking a decent travelling contingent of around 1,800. Make sure you make yourselves heard Dons fans!
9.30am: Just been reading some comments from Posh striker Craig Mackail-Smith who has told our sister paper the Peterborough Evening Telegraph that he wants to end his time at London Road on a high tonight.
The 27-year-old has netted more than 30 goals this season and is likely to move on this summer, regardless of whether Posh win the play-offs or not.
He says he hopes to fire the club back into the Championship by notching the three goals he needs to become only the third player in the club’s Football League history to score 100 times in Posh colours.
He said yesterday: “I know I’m only three off the hundred so hopefully I can get a couple tomorrow night and then score another to help us win the final and get promoted.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I’ll do everything in my power to help us get to Old Trafford and then hopefully go up.
“The prospect of going to Old Trafford and playing in one of the best stadiums in the world is great and we know it would mean a lot to the gaffer. We have to perform like we can tomorrow night though to make sure we are walking out there on May 29.”
9am: Morning all - how are your nerves?
It’s a beautiful morning and hopefully you all slept well last night, although I have a feeling that not everyone will have...
Well today’s the day that Dons play arguably the biggest game in the club’s history, or if not then certainly the game that could see them play it at Old Trafford on May 29.
We’re at least 90 minutes of football away from that yet though, and the slightly more modest surroundings of Peterborough’s London Road await tonight.
The first leg between Dons and Posh on Sunday was a classic, and if last night’s other play-off semi final between Huddersfield and Bournemouth was anything to go by, then we could be in for a repeat.
What a game it was. I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Bournemouth - especially after losing on penalties - but a look at the final League One table tells you that justice was probably done in the end. The Terriers finished 16 points clear of the south coast side and how typical of the play-offs it would have been if the team that finished sixth knocked out the one that ended third.
And that looked likely to be the case when The Cherries took the lead in extra time after Huddersfield had previously led the tie three times. But the Yorkshire outfit pulled it back to 4-4 on aggregate and Bournemouth were out of luck on spot-kicks. It really was football at its best and the Champions League final will have to go some to beat it in terms of entertainment. I just hope you watched it, and not the Europa League final - what a bore.
Let’s hope tonight’s game isn’t quite so dramatic though and Dons scrape a 1-0 or something. A draw is good enough of course, but I highly doubt we’ll see a 0-0.