A brave MK Dons bowed out of the npower League 1 play-offs at the semi-final stage after losing out 3-2 to Huddersfield Town on aggregate over the two-legged tie.
Karl Robinson's men battled their hardest, gave 110 per cent and had nothing left in the tank as they left the pitch as they won 2-1 on the night of the second leg, but ultimately the 2-0 defeat at stadiummk just three days earlier proved too difficult a task to overcome.
After goals from Jordan Rhodes and Jack Hunt had put the Terriers in the driving seat the Dons knew they had an uphill challenge travelling to the Galpharm Stadium and despite dominating the opening phases their evening was made all the more difficult when Rhodes opened the scoring.
However, the Dons refused to give up and when Daniel Powell fired in the equaliser of the night there was great hope for the visitors. A huge talking point from the game was when Sean Morrison appeared to foul Charlie MacDonald before half-time, but the penalty never came for the Dons.
Alan Smith's header deep in injury time offered faint hopes but the Dons bowed out in the cruellest of ways and were left to review what has been a fantastic season for the Dons.
The Dons reverted to 4-3-3 formation with Jay O'Shea taking the place of Alan Smith who took a place on the bench after picking up a knock in the first leg.
The visitors made the trip to the Galpharm knowing goals were a must and in the first minute Dean Bowditch was presented with a route through to goal, taken off his stride once into the box he sprayed the ball to the feet of Charlie MacDonald but as the striker tried to drag the ball back from the left byline Terriers 'keeper Ian Bennett intercepted.
It was a bright start from the Dons as they imposed their fluid passing style on the Galpharm pitch with plenty of promise going forward.
However forward-thinking the Dons wanted to be they also had to play with caution with the knowledge that a goal for the home side would make their task all the more difficult. When Rhodes found space down the left he found Lee Novak creeping into the edge of the box and when Shaun Williams failed to make a telling tackle the forward was able to fire a low shot wide of the post.
There was an urgency involved in the Dons' play, they looked hungry and determined to make amends for the first leg defeat. Darren Potter managed to shake off the shackles in midfield as he stole possession to find Stephen Gleeson, who in turn supplied an excellent through ball to MacDonald.
The Dons striker was through on goal, yet Bennett made the brave decision to race off his line to take the ball away from MacDonald's feet.
Huddersfield were happy to soak up the pressure and when opportunities came their way they were looking to punish the Dons. A free-kick deep in their half appeared to carry little danger as Jack Hunt sent a long punt up field, but when Danny Ward's flick on found Rhodes the danger quickly appeared.
Rhodes' movement allowed him to weave through the Dons defence before tucking a fine composed finish into the bottom corner and by doing so he took the aggregate score line to 3-0.
The score line on the night was harsh on the Dons, who had been the better team, but they had to galvanise in an attempt to register on the scoreboard. Dean Lewington spent most of his time camped in the Terriers' half, and when he lofted the ball to O'Shea they were back on the attack.
Top goal scorer Bowditch was brought into play in a more central position and his swerving shot was deflected out for a corner.
Bowditch was again involved in more positive play for the Dons when he broke down the left byline, but MacDonald couldn't get the flick on needed to turn the ball away. As Bennett tried to cover his goal the 'keeper picked up an injury that forced him off the pitch and, after waiting some time to get ready, Alex Smithies took up position between the sticks.
The Dons were asking question of the Huddersfield defence and the nerves were starting to creep into the players on the pitch and the home fans.
Relentless pressure was being piled on and the Dons deservedly got rewards when Adam Chicksen made inroads down the right to find Powell.
The tricky forward moved into space into the box and with great confidence fired a lovely finish into to bottom of Smithies' net.
Robinson's men then felt they should have had a penalty only minutes later when MacDonald appeared to be pushed by Sean Morrison as he attempted to head home a cross.
The second half began in the Dons' favourites as they peppered the Terriers' box with early pressure. MacDonald came within inches of netting a second for the Dons when he latched onto a through ball from Potter, who excellently picked up possession in the middle, but with Smithies beaten
the former Brentford man saw his effort fall agonisingly wide of the post.
The man with the least to do in the game was Dons' keeper Martin, but he kept their hopes alive as the hour mark approached when he made an excellent block from Kallim Higginbotham before tipping over Novak's ferocious drive.
It was a patch of play that put the wind in the Terriers' sails and the noise inside the stadium began to rise as the home side began to look more threatening. Ward in particular looked keen to add to Huddersfield's advantage in the tie as he cut inside to curl a right-footed shot over the bar.
Town kept breaking on the counterattack as the Dons committed men forward. However, Town found it difficult to break through the Dons' back four especially Williams who had turned in an awesome display at the heart of defence.
With the Dons running short of time Robinson made the bold move of opting for three in defence as Chicksen and Bowditch took their place on the bench while the attacking options were bolstered by the introduction of Luke Chadwick and Jabo Ibehre.
It meant the Dons had to be ultra sharp in defence but when Higginbotham launched a diagonal ball to Ward there was only Martin to beat, luckily for the Dons he miscued his effort wide.
The Dons were desperate to find a second which would cause panic in the Town camp. First Alan Smith took the place of MacDonald and then Ibehre unleashed a wild shot over the bar.
At the death Ibehre was denied point-blank by Smithies and couldn't dig out a second shot but a follow-up from Powell was tipped over the bar. From the resulting corner Smith's diving header found its way through and he put the Dons within one goal of extra-time. Unfortunately time got the better of the Dons as Huddersfield booked their place in the final.
Huddersfield Town: Bennett (Smithies 35); Hunt, Morrison, P Clarke, Woods; Higginbotham (T Clarke 88), Johnson, Miller (Robinson 78), Ward; Rhodes, Novak.
Subs: Roberts, Lee.
Goal: Rhodes 18
MK Dons: Martin; Chicksen (Ibehre 72), MacKenzie, Williams, Lewington (c); Gleeson, Potter, O'Shea; Powell, MacDonald (Smith 81), Bowditch (Chadwick 72).
Subs: McLoughlin, Kouo-Doumbe.
Goals: Powell 40, Smith 90