Stoppage time dramatics keep Dons' automatic chances alive
As the fourth official held up five additional minutes at the end of the game at the JobServe Community Stadium, Dons' automatic promotion chances lay in tatters.
Trailing 2-0 to Colchester, along with Mansfield's 1-1 scoreline with Stevenage and Forest Green's 3-2 lead against Crewe, meant Dons were set to drop to fifth in the race and their final day fate would ultimately be in someone else's hands. Bury and Tranmere's postponement until Tuesday also threw a spanner in the mix, but things were all set to change.
The stoppage time board was flashed at 4:49pm, and after three uneventful minutes in Colchester, the mood changed when news of Crewe snatching an equaliser via Charlie Kirk began to filter through at 4:52pm. This goal bumped Forest Green back down to fifth spot, now two points behind Dons. Paul Tisdale's side were still about to drop a point behind Mansfield though.
But at 4:53pm, that was to change too. Ilias Chair, who scored a long-ranger at Stadium MK for Stevenage earlier this season, pulled the trigger from the edge of the box three minutes into stoppage time at Field Mill to snatch victory for Dino Maamria's side.
Dons were handed yet another boost a minute later at 4:54pm when Kirk popped up again, this time with his 11th goal of the season as Crewe edged ahead of Forest Green at the Alexandra Stadium. From a huge sense of frustration, there was suddenly a sense of relief among the Dons players and the 1,007 fans who made the trip to Colchester at the full-time whistle. Both of the other games were still playing though.
By 4:55pm, the whistle at Field Mill was being blown, and Mansfield had lost, while a late start at Alexandra Stadium meant Crewe and Forest Green were still playing at 5pm, when there was yet more drama as Rovers had the ball in the net for what they thought was a dramatic late equaliser to make it 4-4. Reuben Reid's strike though was chalked off for handball, and by 5:01pm it was all over.
As the dust settled, it meant Dons' stayed fourth, level on points with Mansfield, and three clear of Forest Green. A point for Bury against Tranmere will see them promoted, while Dons' clash with Mansfield at Stadium MK next Saturday remains winner-takes-all.