Dons show off some pride before the fall

Kyle McFadzean tackles Fernando Forestieri
Kyle McFadzean tackles Fernando Forestieri

There is now a distinct air of the inevitable around stadium:mk.

Barring a miracle even the footballing gods would struggle to pull off, Dons will likely get relegated back to League 1 on Saturday.

Dean Lewington and Josh Murph double up on Jack Hunt

Dean Lewington and Josh Murph double up on Jack Hunt

Given their trials and tribulations since the weekend though, they won’t be going out with the whimper they had threatened to a week earlier.

Left to lick their wounds after a 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Rotherham two weeks ago - their fourth defeat in a row and by far the most embarrassing - Dons faced tough trips to Deepdale and Hillsborough knowing defeat in either would probably put them out of their misery.

But some quite incredible scenes at both grounds saw Dons come home with two draws to their names.

The game at Preston would have been a footnote had it not been for the final eight minutes of the game.

Cody Cropper’s sending off would have reverberations all the way to Sheffield later in the week, but striker Alex Revell’s unorthodox but effective dive high to his left to deny Joe Garner from the penalty spot will be an iconic image for Dons fans for years to come, even if the rest of the game was forgettable.

And Cropper’s suspension meant 19-year-old keeper Charlie Burns would be handed his first professional start against Sheffield Wednesday in front of a baying Hillsborough crowd.

Thankful to the frame of the goal not once, not twice but four times, Burns kept a brilliant clean sheet to ensure Dons left Yorkshire with another point in their pockets, keeping their Championship campaign alive for another few days.

The siege on his goal, and the brave defending in front of him by a determined back four, epitomised exactly what the travelling fans wanted to see - what they’ve wanted to see all season long, but unfortunately what they’ve been robbed of seeing in the last few weeks: backbone.

Robinson has been calling for his players to restore pride in the shirt since the 2-1 defeat to Fulham on April 2, when Dons’ fate was effectively sealed.

Performances against Wolves and Rotherham left a bitter taste in the mouth, but there was a renewed sense of desire on the road this week, even if the end product was missing.

No, Dons didn’t do enough win either game, and they were hanging on in both towards the end.

But when a striker pulls on the gloves to save a penalty, when a teenager proves himself in one of the country’s most iconic stadiums, or when a winger chases from the half way line, throws himself into a tackle and comes away with the ball at the byline, it shows there’s still a bit of fight left in the old dog yet.

Samir Carruthers was back to thumping the ground in frustration, Kyle McFadzean was throwing himself in front of strikes to protect his rookie keeper and Karl Robinson was in the stands defending his players from over-exuberant Wednesday fans - there was a passion back again.

Brentford visit stadium:mk on Saturday, having witnessed Dons most pitiful performance of the season in the reverse fixture at Griffin Park back in December.

While the fans have been resigned to League 1 for the last six weeks or so, it appeared the squad had too.

But far from going quietly into the light, Dons have showed flickers of a fight, a fire in their belly, a sense of pride again.

And though the fat lady is taking to the stage, Dons have three more games to ensure fans begin life in League 1 with a sense of optimism.