It’s the little things that’ll keep Dons up

Milton Keynes Dons defender Kyle McFadzean(5) sustains an injury  during the Sky Bet Championship match between Hull City and Milton Keynes Dons at the KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull, England on 12 March 2016. Photo by Ian Lyall. PSI-1701-0024
Milton Keynes Dons defender Kyle McFadzean(5) sustains an injury during the Sky Bet Championship match between Hull City and Milton Keynes Dons at the KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull, England on 12 March 2016. Photo by Ian Lyall. PSI-1701-0024

Big things can happen when you do the little things right, and that’s the approach MK Dons are taking as they fight for survival in the Championship.

A couple of results aside, Dons have rarely been comprehensively beaten in the second tier this season, but the fact remains that they sit just a point above the bottom three with nine games to go.

The Championship is arguably as competitive as it has ever been this season. Each weekend, there is at least one result that raises the eyebrows as a promotion favourite falls to a relegation candidate against the odds.

Dons have been the cause of a few upsets in the last month or so, overturning Derby County at the iPro Stadium and surviving an Alamo-like last stand against Hull on Saturday to take an unlikely point.

It’s an old hat claim and one that has been emphasised a lot of late, but eliminating goals in the final 10 minutes of games would have seen Dons comfortably midtable by this stage - the difference between a relegation scrap and a comfortable cruise into the summer.

“We are winning, losing and drawing through fine margins. We’re not that far away,” said Dons boss Karl Robinson.

“We’re talking about a handball, or a deflected header, an own goal, a miss late on - these fine margins are the difference between us and another nine or ten points.

“We’re in this world of fine margins, and we’re so close. That makes me really excited. We’ve never been that far away.”

Last week was a bit one for Dons. After beating QPR 2-0 at stadium:mk, they picked up draws on the road with Charlton and Hull.

But Rotherham’s run of three wins and a draw has seen the Millers, under the guidance of experienced head Neil Warnock, close the gap to the drop zone just a point, when it read six a matter of weeks ago.

With nine games to go, Dons need to take heed of the situation with trepidation, but should also draw familiar conclusions from their run-in last year.

When chasing down Preston to eventually overcome them on the final day of the season to secure automatic promotion, Dons knew only to pick up as many points as they possibly could to keep the pressure up.

And it’s an approach they need to take into the run in, even if they are the hunted rather than the hunters this time around.

Robinson said: “If Rotherham stay up, well done to them.

“We can’t get caught up in other peoples’ results. It’s just part of the industry. You just have to take it all with a pinch of salt.

“When Preston were winning every week, and we were winning, I didn’t really pay attention to their scores.

“I’ll be honest, if it’s still a fight on the last day of the season, I’ll be asking for Rotherham’s result! And if someone scores against them, I’ll be running down the touchline!

“You can only control what you control. You have to say well done to Bristol City, Rotherham and Charlton. It shows you how good this league really is.”

With 27 points still on offer, Robinson believes with his side on 37, Dons need just seven more points to be safe from the drop.

He said: “We have to get to 45 points I think, and then build from there. If someone else gets 50, fair play to them.

“Everyone looks at 45 as the first port of call. But Peterborough went down with more than that. We could be one win away from being safe though, or we could be five wins away from being safe. You just never know.”