The fight rekindled in a half of football

Tempers flair as Milton Keynes Dons' Dele Alli pushes Fleetwood Town's Jamie Proctor  Photographer Kevin Barnes/CameraSport  Football - The Football League Sky Bet League One - Fleetwood Town v  Milton Keynes Dons - Tuesday 14th April 2015 - Highbury Stadium - Fleetwood  � CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com

Tempers flair as Milton Keynes Dons' Dele Alli pushes Fleetwood Town's Jamie Proctor Photographer Kevin Barnes/CameraSport Football - The Football League Sky Bet League One - Fleetwood Town v Milton Keynes Dons - Tuesday 14th April 2015 - Highbury Stadium - Fleetwood � CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com

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The roars from the away end on Tuesday night weren’t just to commemorate a fine victory on the road, but roars of renewed belief.

Leon Legge’s late equaliser at Deepdale saw Preston chuck away a two goal lead against Gillingham - a goal for each point they let Dons gain on them just a few miles up the road at the Highbury Stadium.

The unthinkable dream at the start of the season may yet become a reality for Karl Robinson’s men, whose persistence is yet to wain with 42 games now under their belt.

If Tuesday night proved nothing else, it was that 45 minutes can make a huge difference in the course of the season, even at this late stage.

As half time whistles sounded across League 1, Preston stood seven points clear of Dons, while Swindon were suddenly back on the case, a point behind with a game in hand.

It could have been much different, of course. After a trying game three days prior against Port Vale, Dons had squandered the opportunity to close the gap. Preston, up against Bristol City, had a share of the points on Saturday too.

But as Dons battled in vain to a 0-0 stalemate - with the emphasis on stale - they couldn’t take advantage.

And after 45 minutes on Tuesday both Dons and Fleetwood struck the frame of the goal in a lively first half which the visitors just about edged, not that the scoreline reflected that.

Preston meanwhile had struck twice in the final nine minutes of the first half to put them firmly in control against Gillingham.

But 13 second half minutes saw everything return to normal again, with everyone in the top four winning.

Robinson described Lewis Baker’s goal as one of his favourites of the season, as a fast-flowing back-to-front move saw Dele Alli tee up the Chelsea loanee for a simple tap in at the near post to put Dons in the ascendency.

Three minutes later, over at Deepdale, Jermaine McGlashan slotted home from the edge of the box to pull one back for the Gills. The gap though remained at five points.

Will Grigg got to show off his power, pace and point-point finishing as he fired Dons two goals to the good with 16 minutes to go, before Dele Alli just showed that giving it a good thump has a similar result as he cracked in the third two minutes later to make it 3-0 and game over at Highbury.

So all eyes were on Deepdale. Gillingham were forcing the issue, but seemingly getting nowhere.

That was until 46 seconds into stoppage time when Leon Legge climbed to meet Josh Pritchard’s cross to nod past Sam Johnstone - a goal that had huge ramifications not just for the 127 travelling Gillingham fans, but also the 186 Dons fans 21.6 miles up the road.

Robinson claimed afterwards the results elsewhere mean little to him and his players, but it certainly didn’t look that way as his eyes darted towards the director’s box at full time, held up two fingers on each hand, getting confirmation and growling out a celebratory cheer. It means a lot more than that.

What had been a remote chance at half time was suddenly a distinct possibility just 45 minutes later.

With four games remaining though, it means there are still plenty of twists and turns to be had before anything is decided.

And with Preston travelling to Port Vale on Friday, before Dons take on Leyton Orient a day later, the side from MK1 could be on the brink of automatic promotion sooner than expected.