U’s win probably too late for Dons

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They’re still mathematically in with a chance of a play-off spot, but realistically, Dons will be planning for another season in League 1.

Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Colchester has almost been pushed by the wayside, with the fallout from other results proving more significant.

While Dons were on their way to victory at Colchester, Swindon comprehensively thumped Crewe 4-1 to keep a four-point cushion between sixth and seventh places.

Dons now need Stevenage to keep the Robins at bay on Saturday as just one win from their remaining two games will do for Swindon.

Anything less than victory for Swindon, and a Dons win against relegation threatened Scunthorpe United, will take the play-off fight into the last Saturday of the season, when Dons travel to Stevenage, and Swindon visit Scunthorpe.

Their form during the last two months has seen Dons go from written off to right back in the fight for a top six place.

Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Leyton Orient was probably the final nail in the coffin of Dons’ campaign,, but it is by no means the sole reason for the team failing to extend the season into May.

Away form is something which has escaped Dons this season. Winning only six of their 22 games away has been rescued by the strong record at stadium:mk.

It’s hard to look past the fact that Dons’ victory at the Weston Homes Community Stadium was their first away win in League 1 on a Tuesday night since August 2011.

It was by no means an easy victory though. Colchester too had half an eye on other results, hoping bottom club Bury could do them a favour against Scunthorpe to almost ensure their League 1 future.

Victory for United would have made them safe from the drop, they found a stubborn Ian McLoughlin between the sticks for Dons, keeping his eighth clean sheet since he took over from David Martin at the end of February.

His string of saves made sure that Daniel Powell’s 11th minute opener kept Dons in front.

The move started on the left flank – Dean Lewington, feeding Luke Chadwick inside. Breaking forwards, Chadwick spotted Powell’s run in behind Gavin Massey. Picking him out, Powell was clean through on goal, and fired across Sam Walker to open the scoring.

However, news from the County Ground made for grim reading for Dons as Swindon raced into a 3-0 lead.

McLoughlin was peppered with first half attempts – his goal frame rattled first from Shaun Williams as the Dons defender misjudged a header, before Freddie Sears peeled away from a corner and fired against the upright.

But his finest save came when Billy Clifford raced to the byline, skipped past Jon Otsemobor and fired the ball dangerously towards the top corner. McLoughlin flung his left arm at it though, getting the faintest of touches to send it off course and away.

The second half quickly threatened to be a similar tale to the first. Dons were limited to counter-attack chances, as the hosts were piling forward desperately searched for an equaliser that would go a long way to securing their safety.

But McLoughlin enjoyed a much quieter 45 minutes, despite being stood in front of the home supporters. The handful of chances allowed through Dons’ defence were just bread and butter for the keeper as he rode out his man of the match performance.

It meant Patrick Bamford’s strike 12 minutes from time would be decisive. Played in by Chadwick again, Bamford’s late goal was almost a mirror image of Powell’s in the first half – striking cleanly past Walker into the corner of the net, doubling Dons’ lead and securing victory.

The mood was one of que sera sera after the game, with Karl Robinson still trying to look on the bright side. The fight for a play-off place could yet go down to the wire, but if it doesn’t, there will be plenty of soul searching to come while we all watch the semi finals on the TV.