MK Dons boss Liam Manning was delighted with his side as they won 5-0 at 10-man Plymouth to cement third spot and secure a two-legged semi-final against Wycombe.
Scott Twine was Dons’ four-goal hero, scoring twice in each half, while Harry Darling got a headed goal just before half-time.
Plymouth – who slipped to seventh and missed out on a play-off spot – had midfielder Jordan Houghton dismissed for a second yellow for a foul just after Darling’s goal.
Manning said: “I am really proud of the players. We spoke a lot around controlling what we can and we knew we had to come and win, and what a performance!
“I thought the players were outstanding, the way they executed the game plan, the discipline, the basics – I thought they were outstanding today.
“Scott Twine scored four but it could have been more with the header, hitting the crossbar and another one. That’s what I love about him he’s never content and constantly striving to improve.
“He’s been terrific this year and he was outstanding today.
“You’d be lying if you were not disappointed about missing out on automatic promotion but what you have to do is congratulate Rotherham and Wigan.
“But you can’t throw all your emotion into one game.
“We have got business to do. You can’t feel sorry for yourself, you can’t carry a hangover into this week.
“We knew it was a potential so we just have to make sure we are ready to go.
“The pleasing thing second half was we showed respect to Plymouth, quite rightly so, by continuing to play with discipline, good focus and the guys are ready to go again – that is the biggest thing.”
Plymouth boss Steven Schumacher said: “Gutted not to make the play-offs. I felt the players over the course of the season deserved to be there.
“Today just wasn’t our day. We created two unbelievable chances to go ahead in the game and if they go in it could have been a different story.
“It’s something we worked on in training this week. We spoke about trying to get in behind their lines and penetrating passes and we created two brilliant opportunities.
“The ball has crossed their six yard box which we knew that would be our best chance to score so Luke (Jephcott) got himself in the right positions and you’d put your money on him to score but today they both went the wrong side of the post and that effectively changed the game.
“In the end we have been (beaten by) moments of quality by someone who has been voted best player in the league, so we have got to take it on the chin and move on.
“I thought the second yellow was harsh. Going up against MK Dons is hard enough with 11 players, never mind when you have only got 10.
“That killed the game in the second half, they were comfortable and – yeah – it could have been more.
“Once the fourth goal went in I just couldn’t wait for it to end.”
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