Dons must win at Saints to stand chance of top two

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VICTORY at Southampton on Saturday could be a huge step towards automatic promotion this season, according to assistant manager John Gorman.

The former Saints caretaker manager believes Dons still have a chance of making the top two in League One, but only if they can continue their recent winning ways, starting on the south coast.

Dons go into the game sitting fifth in the table and level on points with Southampton in fourth, although Nigel Adkins’ men have a far superior goal difference.

It’s the last column in the standings that Gorman is concerned about though as Dons look to do the double over the Saints and close in on second placed Huddersfield.

He said: “They’re on the same points as us but have played less games, so they’ll be wanting to move into second. But we will be aiming to stop them and have a go ourselves because there’s nothing in it at the minute.

“It’s a crucial stage of the season and we know it’s going to be a hard game. It’s a place our players will enjoy playing at because there will be a great atmosphere, a big crowd and everybody’s looking forward to it.

“I’m certainly looking forward to going back and there will be a few old faces - not many on the playing side - just people like Adam Lallana, but I still know a lot of the coaching and backroom staff.”

Dons’ 2-0 win over Southampton at stadium:mk back in September was Adkins’ first match in charge after he replaced Alan Pardew at St Mary’s. That win lifted Karl Robinson’s men into third place, while Saints sat third from bottom after only half a dozen games. But the big spending south coast club are a different prospect now admits Gorman.

“He (Nigel Adkins) has done a very good job and we managed to beat them 2-0 that night,” he said. “It was a wonderful performance by us and hopefully we’ll get a similar type of result come Saturday.

“That game was a long time ago, but both clubs have gone from strength to strength since. We’re on a good run, playing full of confidence with a great squad, and even the lads on the bench are desperate to be playing. With both sides playing good football it should be a cracking game.

“We said to the boys that if we can beat Southampton then they’re the type of team we’ll be playing week in, week out with lovely stadiums and bigger crowds if we get promoted.”

Meanwhile Saints boss Adkins has admitted that Dons’ superb run of six wins in eight games hasn’t gone unnoticed. His side hasn’t played since their draw at Charlton 10 days ago and are also on a great run of form after winning their previously four games before their trip to The Valley.

“Every game’s a big game, let’s not hide away from that fact,” said Adkins. “We’ve got to win every game from here on in, and that’s the focus we’ve got.

“I’ve watched them several times this season and they’re a very good side. Karl’s done a great job with them. They pass the ball about extremely well, and they’re up there for a reason.

“Our pitch is magnificent, so that’s going to be beneficial for ourselves. We want to play football and we want to get the ball on the floor and pass the ball about.

“MK Dons do exactly the same thing, their pitch is lovely as well, so it’s conducive for a good footballing game on Saturday.”