Karl Robinson praised his players for putting the thought of Manchester United to the back of their minds in the 1-0 victory over Chesterfield on Tuesday night.
In a night of heavy shelling from Chesterfield’s long-ball approach, Dons escaped the Proact Stadium with all three points, courtesy of Benik Afobe’s second half strike.
Thousands of fans were at stadium:mk on Tuesday to get their hands on tickets for the big game next week, while also seeing the side off as they travelled up the M1 for the game - bringing home the prospect of what is ahead of them next week.
But despite the distraction of what chairman Pete Winkelman has described as the biggest game in the club’s history, Robinson was delighted that his side could put all that to the back of their minds to see off Chesterfield.
“It must come into their minds,” he said. “This is the biggest occasion of their lives, why wouldn’t it come into their minds. They care for the club, this is the nitty-gritty, this is what they get judged on - league competition.
“This is a really good side here, with the aerial prowess and their ability to move the ball in midfield. For as much of the pressure we soaked up, I felt we missed six chances - Benik has scored the most difficult one.
“I don’t know how he missed the easier ones. We have to put games to bed because we turned that game into something more difficult by missing the chances.
“This is a big, big win for me. There were thousands of people lapping the stadium when we left this morning. I got the call earlier to say we’ve nearly sold out too.
“The players deserve a lot of credit. They’re the one who got the game here, and the ones who will fill the stadium.
“This is my 101st win - this is the start of a new century for us, and they don’t come much sweeter.”
But the win didn’t come without cost - both David Martin and Lee Hodson had their time on the pitch cut short through injury. Martin took a blow from Gary Roberts in the first half, while Hodson rolled on his ankle, and will be taken for an MRI scan.
Robinson said: “Lee Hodson will have an MRI scan because it looks quite serious. He came inside, landed on his ankle and heard a pop. It hasn’t swelled up like we expected it, if it is something severe, but it’s possibly ligament damage. We’ll get more conclusive evidence in the next 48 hours.
“David Martin got a kick and rotated on it. It was a horrendous tackle on him, but it was more how he landed.”
But the performance of the day was reserved for the defensive partnership of Antony Kay and Kyle McFadzean.
Between them, the pair dominated the aerial presence Chesterfield threatened to exploit almost from minute one.
And the partnership is one that has a familiar feel to it, for Robinson.
He said: “They’re big, strong men. We have flashbacks to Swaz (Danny Swailes) and Sean (O’Hanlon).
“When you’ve got two Yorkshiremen in there, sometime I don’t know what they’re talking about! They have this jargon I don’t understand.”
But now Dons are likely to be without Hodson for at least a handful of games, Robinson says he’s stepping up his search for a new defender before the transfer window closes.
He added: “I’m going to go in to get another defender, especially losing Lee, we look a bit thin on the ground.”