Easter resurrects Dons’ top six hopes

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They’ve been in and out more times than the hokey cokey, but back-to-back wins over the Easter weekend have kept Dons in the play-off hunt.

Hartlepool and Brentford were both dealt 2-0 defeats by Dons in the space of three days, earning Karl Robinson’s side maximum points as the season edges ever closer to its conclusion.

Not many would have predicted Dons would still be in with a shout after the disappointing 2-1 defeat to Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road two weeks ago.

There, Robinson blasted his players and their seeming lack of desire for the badge on their chests, threatening anyone with the door if their attitudes didn’t improve fast.

Perhaps the 10 day break between games helped give the players a break they so desperately needed.

Playing six times in 17 days is a hectic schedule for footballers, and with so little time between games, it was inevitable that towards the end of the run Dons were beginning to show signs of fatigue.

But the matches over Easter were different to the matches so far seen from Dons this season.

Particularly the case on Easter Monday, Dons weren’t the better side for long periods of the game. Brentford showed why they’re fighting for the title as they penned Dons into their own half, firing balls into the danger area.

But unfortunately for Uwe Rosler, who claimed in comments before the game he knew how to beat Robinson’s side, he didn’t count on quite such a defensive display from the home side.

In the absence of injured duo David Martin and Dean Lewington, suspended Antony Kay and Blackpool-bound Gary MacKenzie, the patched up back five looked like they had been playing together all season, putting everything on the line. In the case of left-back Adam Chicksen, he needed three pain-killing injections to play on Monday.

Dean Bowditch’s two goals over Easter have gone somewhat under the radar in the grand scheme of things. He has struggled to shake off the string of injuries which started on New Year’s Day, and looked exhausted as he hobbled off after an hour - such is his current regiment to keep him ticking over until the next game.

And while he perhaps didn’t see as much of the ball as he’d have liked in the attacking third, Bowditch’s defensive duties, supporting Chicksen in his battle with Clayton Donaldson, were just as valuable as his opening goal.

But it has been the greats results against the top sides that has so many people involved with Dons getting so frustrated with the season.

Victories over Sheffield United, Tranmere, Doncaster have been cancelled out by losses at the hands of Shrewsbury, Crewe and Stevenage - teams Dons really should be seeing off.

But by hook or by crook, Dons are still in with a chance, albeit a slim one, of getting into the top six.

Crawley, another side to have beaten Robinson’s side earlier this season, are next on the list, visiting stadium:mk for the first time on Saturday before the huge battle with Swindon three days later.

Defeat in any of the remaining six games will almost certainly spell the end of the promotion bid, though the same was said after the Shrewsbury and Crewe defeats too.

Maybe it is the threat of missing out at this late stage, maybe it is the threat of being shown the door in June, or maybe it’s just the threat of League 1 football for another season that has Dons clawing on for yet another week.

Whatever it is, the battle is still on.