There were clear reasons, according to Karl Robinson, as to why Dons weren’t leaving stadium:mk on Tuesday night with their name in the hat for the quarter finals of the Capital One Cup.
Two late Michael Higdon goals cancelled out Benik Afobe’s second half penalty - his sixth strike in the competition - as Sheffield United instead made it to the last eight, winning 2-1.
In all, it was a frustrating night for the home side. After a dour first 45 minutes, they looked like they’d done enough when Dele Alli was tripped by Craig Alcock with 22 minutes to go as Afobe stroked home the resultant spot kick.
But Higdon’s 86th minute header, and the winner deep into stoppage time, ended Dons’ dramatic cup run at the last 16.
“We switched off at a set piece,” said Robinson afterwards. “They know that’s one of Sheffield United’s strengths. It’s stupid, it’s silly.
“We switched off for both goals.
“If you work hard all week, and then fall short in the last one percent - it’s silly isn’t it? If you’re going to put in that much effort, put in that last bit because that probably cost us in the last few years.
“Dave said he called for it, and then Dele called for it. But if he called, clear Dele out. Dave held his hands up straight away and felt he should have done better.
“But Hidgon was given time and space to bring the ball down and lash it in.
“It’s disappointing. We’re a good group, but we need to take care of the finer details.
“There were clear reasons we didn’t win tonight, but it’s better to have it like that than to go home and wonder why.”
The second 45 minutes bared no resemblance at all to the first. While the second had pace and passion from both sides, the first was a torrid watch - not void of quality, but one which saw both sides very evenly matched.
Robinson said: “We really cancelled each other out. We both tactically got it right. There were only glimpses of opportunities in the first half.”
Of course, while the cup run came to an end, it’ll be one that goes down in the club’s history. Not only was it the furthest Dons have ever been in the Capital One Cup, but it was a run that saw Dons beat AFC Wimbledon, and then humble Manchester United 4-0.
“I want people to remember the good parts of this cup run,” Robinson added. “We have had some wonderful moments that will live with us forever and a day.
“But it’s a bit sour how it has gone tonight, but we can’t win them all. We need to come back stronger and a bit better.”