Match winner Josh Murphy was almost substituted with 20 minutes to go as Karl Robinson looked put the game to bed against Cardiff on Saturday.
The 19-year-old winger, on loan from Norwich, scored a dramatic winner in the final minute at stadium:mk as Dons won 2-1, having seen Nicky Maynard’s 50th minute opener cancelled out by a sensational Craig Noone strike 10 minutes from time.
But after struggling against Bluebirds full back Lee Peltier all afternoon, Robinson opted at the last second to remove Rob Hall from the action, keeping Murphy on the left flank.
“I was going to sub him after 70 minutes,” said Robinson. “I don’t know why I didn’t.
“Everyone told me to keep him on, and he ended up being the winner. Sometimes, making a substitutes can change the game, but keeping someone on can also make the difference.
“Josh had a really difficult afternoon against Lee Peltier. Sometimes you get those afternoons as a winger.”
After a sticky opening half of football, where Cardiff missed a handful of decent chances to put the game to bed, Dons came out all guns blazing in the second period and were rewarded five minutes after the restart with a fine Nicky Maynard strike.
While pegged back by Noone’s rocket, Dons kept at it and earned all three points at the death thanks to Murphy’s strike to win it.
For the Dons manager, it was what they deserved.
He said: “This is our fortress and this is where we have to win - our away form is nothing to brag about lately. We controlled the game in the second half, though where they controlled the first. I thought tactically we got everything right.
“Cardiff hit us an awful lot in the first half, but we were still there and standing in the second half.
“I don’t think they had many clear-cut changes in the first half, but from there we turned it around and came out all guns blazing.
“We aren’t always going to dominate games like we have in League 1. We’ve become accustomed to that league. But now we’re in a very high level. The Championship is ruthless.”
The win keeps Dons out of the bottom three, and up to 20th, but it also drags in others to the fray.
Robinson though feels it will all change in the next six weeks as the transfer window reopens.
“The table scares me! I used to love looking at it! But we’re in one of the hardest divisions in the world. Results are so unpredictable. Going into January though, a lot of these clubs will change a lot. And it’ll be interesting to see.
“This is a massive six weeks for the club. We need to make sure we’re full of optimism and togetherness.”