Neilson sets his sights on a top half finish

Robbie Neilson
Robbie Neilson

Dons boss Robbie Neilson wants to finish as high as possible after his side almost certainly secured League 1 safety on Saturday with a 3-2 win over Gillingham.

Despite leading 2-0 after 10 minutes, Dons threatened to throw it away by first conceding Cody McDonald's flick before George Williams gave away a last minute penalty - earning himself a red card - allowing Josh Wright to equalise, but only after Lee Nicholls saved the initial penalty. Dean Lewington though would score the winner in stoppage time to see Dons climb to 14th in the table, and eight points from the relegation zone with six games remaining.

REPORT: MK Dons 3-2 Gillingham
And with their safety almost certainly assured now, Neilson wants his side to aim for the top half of the table.

"Our aim now is to get into the top half," he said. "We've got a big game at Charlton on Tuesday and if we can win there, it'll jump us up again. We have to aim higher and get that top half finish."

The win is Neilson's seventh in 11 at Stadium MK since he took over - a remarkable turnaround from earlier this season.

He added: "When we arrived, we hadn't won here in something like nine months. We've got a really good record here now, and we have to be strong. We look forward to playing here now, and other teams don't."

But it threatened to be two points thrown away when Wright tapped home his initially missed penalty, with the manager almost left to rue the missed opportunities earlier in the game. And with his captain winning it in stoppage time, Neilson heaped praise on his skipper.

Neilson said: "It shows his spirit. He's desperate for the club to do well and get points on the board. He's gone in there against a giant goalkeeper who has come steaming into him, and put his body on the line for the team.

"We had a great start in the first half but we let them back into it in the second half. It was a cruel twist for Gillingham at the end but fantastic for us to get the three points. We found it difficult in the second half. But when they got it back to 2-2, with 10 men, we still managed to dig it out. And that's exactly what we need.

"When you're at the top of the league, you go 2-0 up and it goes, three, four, five. When you're around the bottom, there's a nervousness because you need the points, and we showed that today.

"We should have scored more in the first half to put the game to bed.When a team goes 2-0 at half time, they were bound to go gung-ho at us. They never really created a lot until the first goal, but the second was a poor goal from our perspective - a long ball and we should have dealt with that."