Benik Afobe thanked penalty taker Ben Reeves for giving up his duties on Tuesday night, allowing the striker to score his 12th goal of the season to beat Fleetwood 2-1.
Substitute Afobe, Dons’ top scorer this campaign, said he was full of confidence stepping up in the dying minutes at stadium:mk with the match poised at 1-1, after David Ball gave Town the lead, only to have his effort cancelled out by Kyle McFadzean.
And when Samir Carruthers was pulled to the ground by Gareth Evans with six minutes to go, Afobe had no doubts that he wanted to take the penalty.
“I have to thank Ben Reeves,” he said afterwards. “He’s the taker, but as soon as we won the penalty, I told him I wanted it. He asked if I was sure, but he was easy about it, even if the boys are giving him a bit of banter about it now!
“I’ve been scoring goals, and I felt confident - I knew I was going to score.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to score goals, but it’s an even better feeling to be winning games.
“(Fleetwood) had a fantastic start in this league. Even when we went 1-0 down, we needed to keep composed. We were creating chances, we just didn’t put them away. We needed to be patient, and when Kyle (McFadzean) scored, we knew the floodgates could open and we could get a winner.
“Sometimes, I don’t know what gets into him, he thinks he’s a centre forward! As long as he chips in with his fair share, no-one will have a pop if he keeps shooting.”
While Afobe stole the headlines, the influence of fellow substitute Carruthers was plain to see in the second half.
The 21-year-old signed from Aston Villa in the summer after a popular loan spell last season. But having missed the last six months of the season through injury, Carruthers’ career at MK Dons hasn’t quite reached the heights it did a year ago, but on Tuesday he showed the first signs of a return to his best form.
And Afobe heaped praise on Carruthers’ performance.
He said: “The gaffer spoke to Samir, and Samir knows what he can to. He proved to everyone and showed what he can do. It was one of his best performance of the season.
“Obviously it will take time to get the old Samir, coming back from injury.
“We all know he’s a quality player and a fantastic signing for the club.
“But it’s not about the 11 who start the game, but about the whole squad.”
Dons remain fourth with the victory, but at one stage, the live League 1 table saw Dons drop as low as eighth. With the pack so tightly bunched heading into November, Afobe said Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Leyton Orient meant the Fleetwood game was a must win for Dons.
He said: “At Leyton Orient, we got a well-fought draw, but we knew in front of our fans at home, it was a must win game.
“These are the games we’ll look back at at the end of the season and think, maybe we didn’t play our best football or win by four goals, but we’ve gone home with three points.
“We don’t look at the other teams, but we know they dropped points. We’re still in there. As long as we’re still there in April, we’ll be happy.”