Peterborough United will have to overcome a 3-2 deficit when they face the Milton Keynes Dons in the second leg of the npower League 1 Play-Offs tonight, if they are to be in with a chance of securing promotion.
Things could have been so much worse for Darren Ferguson's side, had it not been for their late penalty at stadium:mk as he told football-league.co.uk: "At one point," admitted Ferguson, "I was stood on the touchline thinking, 'this tie could be over.' It looked more likely to be 4-1 than 3-2, and I would probably have taken 3-1. But the penalty kept us in it and in the end I was happy with 3-2.
"We were miles off where we can be in terms of performance though, and the lads know that they let themselves down. We set standards and on Sunday we under-performed, so I'll be looking for a response and I'm sure I'll get one.
"The stats show we're a very good home team and we have to make the most of that. The lads have hit 69 League goals at home and haven't lost here since November, and with the way we play we know we'll create chances on Thursday night."
The Dons will be able to call upon Stephen Gleeson despite his sending off on Sunday, after his red card was rescinded and skipper Dean Lewington is confident his side can continue where they left off at the weekend.
Speaking to www.mkdons he said: "We're not going to change the way we play by sitting back and trying to defend that lead, we're going to try and increase it.
"I don't think we can play any differently, we're not a defensive team and nor are they. If you try and change the way you have played all season it can lead to problems so I think both teams go out there to see who the better team is and whoever comes out on top, comes out on top.
"In the Play-Offs the second leg tends to be the better games and with us taking quite a large away support it should make for a better atmosphere so I think it should be a good night. The game is so much bigger than bragging rights; it's a shot at the Championship."
Tonight's winners will face Huddersfield Town in the final at Old Trafford a week on Sunday.
HEAD TO HEAD
It's 2-1 to the MK Dons in the head to heads so far this season, with the home team coming out on top on all three occasions.
The first meeting came back in September when Gary Johnson was in charge at London Road. Craig Mackail-Smith opened the scoring, for the home side, on 36 minutes only for Dean Lewington to equalise a minute later.
Aaron Mclean secured all three points for the Posh, with his goal two minutes after the restart.
The return fixture took place in March and the MK Dons ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a solitary strike from Gary McKenzie.
Sunday's meeting saw five goals, with the home side winning 3-2. It was the visitors who took the lead after just eight minutes when Craig Mackail-Smith scored his 33rd goal of the season.
Daniel Powell levelled things up just a minute after the restart and Sam Baldock made it 2-1 to the Dons just three minutes later.
Angelo Balanta put the home side firmly in control on 56 to make it 3-1 and 11 minutes later the Posh were reduced to 10 men when Charlie Lee was sent off.
Dons midfielder Stephen Gleeson also received his marching orders with 10 minutes to go after he fouled Mark Little in the area, which also saw the visitors awarded a penalty which Grant McCann duly despatched.
Tonight's match will be the 22nd time the two sides have met and the Dons have a slight advantage in the head to head with nine wins to seven, while five games have ended all square.
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