DEAN Lewington is putting local bragging rights aside as he sets his sights on the Championship next season.
Even though there are 50 miles separating Dons and Peterborough United, the rivalry between the two sets of supporters has reached fever pitch in the last few weeks as their respective clubs once again do battle for promotion.
However, Lewington said the players are putting that rivalry to the back of their minds to concentrate on the bigger prize at the end of the rainbow.
He said: “The game is much bigger than just local rivalry - we’re playing for a place in the Championship.
“I really couldn’t care less that it was Peterborough or anyone else that we beat, and I’m sure they think the same. The goal is too big to worry about bragging rights.”
Sunday’s exciting play-off semi final first leg saw Dons come out on top, handing them a vital advantage going into the away leg tonight. And the captain is pleased to be going into the second leg at London Road with a one goal lead, even though he admits the deficit should have been bigger.
But Lewington who scored at London Road in Dons’ 2-1 defeat earlier this season, says confidence is high in the Dons camp as they aim to book a trip to Old Trafford at the end of the month.
He said: “I think you have to be confident. We’d have been confident going there with a loss or a draw but going there with a lead means we’re even happier.
“The mood is really good. When you go out and perform well, you can be happy with yourselves. If we’d have played badly and let ourselves down we’d have been really frustrated and pressure comes with that. But we did well and so everyone is looking forward to it.
“It turned out to be the pick of the play-off games and it was great to play in. There were lots of goals and lots of incidents.”
While Posh fans on home territory could generate a hostile atmosphere - they’ve sold out their allocation of 10,000 - Lewington is chomping at the bit to get to there and finish the job Dons started on Sunday.
“We always have good games there,” he said. “It’s not a place we do too badly at. It’s always a good atmosphere, a nice old-style ground and the fans are close to the pitch.
“The second legs always seem to be better for atmosphere. Obviously with us taking a good following it should make for a better atmosphere rather than one-sided.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game but we’re confident in ourselves and we know if we turn up on the night then we’ll be all right.
“We are not going to change the way we play by sitting back defending our lead. We are going to try and increase it. We will play the same way we did at stadium:mk.”
Some may have been surprised by the way Dons dominated Sunday’s first leg against the country’s leading scorers, but Lewington said it was down to smart planning from manager Karl Robinson and exploiting areas they knew Peterborough were weak.
He also said lessons were learned from their previous victory at stadium:mk, when Dons ran out 1-0 winners in their League One clash in March. Posh need to score on Thursday to stand a chance of progressing to the final, and that could present Dons with an extra advantage, said Lewington.
“They play with a diamond formation, so that leaves them open for the full-backs to attack,” he said. “It was one of the areas we concentrated on and tried to exploit.
“I think myself and Mathias (Doumbe) had a few chances in the first half - so it worked well.
“In the previous home game we played similarly in the second half. At home, we do normally dominate, but they showed they were dangerous on the counter when they created a couple of chances.
“I think in terms of possession we had the majority. I don’t think we can play any other way. We’re not a defensive team and nor are they.
“If you try and change the way you play after a whole season it can lead to problems, so I think we both went out there to see who is the better team, and whoever comes out on top, comes out on top.”