FOR all the time we spend analysing football, the game is fundamentally about emotions.

There is nothing like the explosion of joy that greets a late winner, especially when something is riding on the result.

Billy Bodin’s goal against MK Dons might not make a difference come the end of the season - but right now that does not matter.

The substitute’s strike will have given Oxford United fans a buzz as they go into work this morning and single-handedly ensured a sold-out away end at Rotherham United on Saturday.

WATCH: Billy Bodin's goal and the other key moments

Points-wise, the U’s are still in the worst position of all the Sky Bet League One play-off contenders, but that goal could give them a crucial lift in their final two games.

A home win looked a long shot when referee Anthony Backhouse brought an end to a first half where United were second best all over the pitch.

No visiting team has been as dominant at the Kassam Stadium all season. MK are a quality outfit, but the U’s made it easy.

United’s midfield and attack did not press as a unit, enabling Liam Manning’s side to simply play through them.

That was shown by MK’s best chance of the first half, when Conor Coventry and Scott Twine both had time to turn and pick a forward pass with no U’s player in the vicinity.

The latter then found Troy Parrott, who had eluded Luke McNally, and only Ciaron Brown’s goal line clearance stopped them taking the lead.

On the rare occasions United had possession, they ran down blind alleys and lost it straight away. Their front players could not make it stick and they took too many risks at the back.

RATINGS: Every Oxford United player marked out of 10

Despite that, the U’s went in level at the break – and the transformation when they returned was like night and day.

After no shots in a limp first half, Gavin Whyte set the tone when he won a corner less than two minutes after the restart.

Suddenly, the U’s were pressing with intent and it was MK who looked uncertain, with Harry Darling saved by goalkeeper Jamie Cumming when he let a backpass run to Matty Taylor.

The visitors sat back, allowing Cameron Brannagan to drop deeper and take possession off the centre backs. Like at Stadium:MK in December, the midfielder took the second half by the scruff of the neck to force a result.

It sounds like Karl Robinson delivered a bit of a rollocking at the interval, but United’s head coach also deserves praise for making substitutions that changed the game.

Bodin showed flashes of quality before his winner, which came after the energy of another replacement, Ryan Williams, forced Dean Lewington into a poor pass. Marcus Browne was brought on for his attacking ability, but he even won an important defensive header late on.

READ MORE: Karl Robinson on beating points target, poor first half and praise for Matty Taylor

Ultimately, it was a victory that showed why United have it in them to force their way into the play-offs.

A first clean sheet since February was definitely welcome – they rode their luck at times, but the fact it comes as the U’s defence finally finds some continuity is surely not a coincidence.

Going into this week, United’s record against top League One teams did not fill you with confidence ahead of matches with third-placed MK and Rotherham, in second.

Despite some good performances, the U’s have still won only five of their 19 games against the rest of the top 11.

Adding to that tally on Saturday would be a huge boost ahead of a potential play-off campaign - or am I getting ahead of myself?