Dons ended their season on a high after beating Stevenage 2-0 on Saturday.
Goals in either half from Patrick Bamford and Ryan Lowe saw Dons comfortably home in a game that mattered not a jot for either side, with neither playing for anything but pride.
There weren’t quite the wholesale changes that Karl Robinson had hinted at in the starting line-up - in fact it was the same team which started a week earlier against Scunthorpe at stadium:mk. While there was nothing for either side to play for except bragging rights, both sets of fans were in full voice for the last game of the season.
It was a fairly subdued start to the game though, with neither really causing any drama in the opening 20 minutes. Both keepers made early stops though - Chris Day saving from Patrick Bamford as he raced clear of the Stevenage defences, while Ian McLoughlin needed two bites of the cherry to save Matt Ball’s 20 yard drive.
Both teams looked good in the midfield. Daniel Powell and Dean Bowditch saw a fair share of the ball up the flanks - Powell in particular was having a good battle Darius Charles though his crosses never it as far as Bamford waiting in the centre.
And when a ball finally made it into the area, Bamford made no mistakes in putting Dons ahead. Bowditch found space on the left and lofted in a high cross, and Bamford rose high above his man, glancing his header past Day with 33 minutes on the clock.
Stevenage should have been level four minutes later though when McLoughlin fluffed his lines as he tried to clear, kicking only as far as Ball 20 yards from goal. Fortunately for the keeper, Ball’s strike was straight at him, letting him off the hook.
Matt Roberts must’ve gone in at the break wondering how he wasn’t on the scoresheet as he missed two superb chances three minutes from the break. The first came from a clever Stevenage set piece, which saw two flicked headers to find the skipper at the far post, but his header was brilliantly saved by McLoughlin again. His second chance came 30 seconds later and was probably better than the first. He found himself unmarked on the far side once again, and with the ball sitting up nicely, he took it on the volley but hammered well wide.
The second half continued in the same vain as the first - with half chances at either end. Stevenage had one cleared off the line at a corner, while Gleeson still had his ‘Goal of the Season’ strike in his mind when he lined one up from 35 yards out, forcing Day into a diving stop.
Karl Robinson tried to inject a new lease of life with Ryan Lowe and Dele Alli replacing Luke Chadwick and Bamford.
But it took a mistake from Stevenage captain Mark Roberts, dawdling on the edge of his area for Dons to double the lead. Lowe picked Roberts’ pocket as he fended off Powell, and the forward rounded Day before hammering home the second of the afternoon.
Joe N’Guessan almost made it an exciting finish when he took aim from 20 yards, but his powerful drive struck the upright with six minutes to go.
Shaun Williams almost bent in a third for Dons as he found himself on the edge of the box, but his effort was just over the top. Giorgio Rasulo too forced Day into a fine stop in stoppage time.
The result means Dons finish eighth in League 1, five points behind Sheffield United in the final play-off spot, and destined for another year in the third tier.
Referee: David Phillips
Stevenage: Day, Gray, Charles, Dunne, Haber, Akins (N’Guessan 57), Roberts, Freeman, Ball (Tansey 68) , Mahon, N’Gala (Ehmer 5)
Subs not used: Arnold, Grant, Hoskins, Smith
MK Dons: McLoughlin, Otsemobor, Doumbe, Kay, Williams, Gleeson (Rasulo 78), Potter, Chadwick (Lowe 65), Powell, Bowditch, Bamford (Alli 70)
Subs not used: Smith, McLeod, Galloway, Lines
Booked: Gleeson, Kay