AFC clash is just another game for Dons

Kyle McFadzean celebrates his debut goal against Gillingham.
Kyle McFadzean celebrates his debut goal against Gillingham.

Karl Robinson is treating the second meeting with AFC Wimbledon as just another game.

On Tuesday, Dons meet up with their south-London opponents in the first round of the Capital One Cup - only the second time the clubs have met since both were formed.

Last time, a spectacular Stephen Gleeson effort opened the scoring for Dons, Jack Midson equalised, before Jon Ostemobor’s iconic ‘Heel of God’ flick in stoppage time to win it for the home side.

While security will be heightened at stadium:mk, there is expected to be a far smaller presence from the capital in the away end this time around.

And with the smaller following, less media hype and a subdued approach, Robinson admits it feels different this time around.

“It’s AFC vs MK Dons - it’s a massive game in the club’s history once again,” he said. “It feels different because we know what to expect. It was an unknown in British football.

“Obviously, we’ll have constant critics and plaudits, but we know how to deal with it. There’s a calmness about the club at the moment, but it’s a game we want to win.

“What Neil Ardley has done there is very good in recent years. They made the game here very difficult, and we needed a wonder goal and Semi’s (Jon Otsemobor) moment of brilliance - or luck!

“But it was a wonderful occasion. With it being on TV, the media hyped it up. But this time, we’ve been left to our own devices to go and play the game.”

With less of the hype and circus around the occasion this time around, Robinson feels Dons did all their talking in the build-up to the first meeting and don’t need to add any extra fuel to the fire.

He said: “We got involved in the politics last time and we answered the questions. I’ve got to manage the expectations, and give the fans what they want.

“But we had to answer a lot of questions as a club, because there was a lot of uncertainty.

“We’ve answered everything, people have judged us the way they want to, and now we have to treat this like any other derby game.

“It’s just a game to us, but we understand that the surroundings are slightly different.

“It’s not prime time viewing like it was last time.

“It’s not the FA Cup, and it’s not on TV so there’s not much media speculation about it.

“It’ll always be the fixture everyone wants, but last time we won it, we weren’t even on the back page of a local paper. It must not have meant much to them - the biggest game in the club’s history.

“But this one is just a game, and we have to treat it like that.”

Dons fans may want to win this game more than perhaps any other this season.

But Robinson admits he’ll be making changes to his side in preparation for another huge game - Peterborough away - in the second League 1 fixture of the season coming up next Saturday.

He said: “I’ll be making a few changes, unforced too, which is nice. Hopefully we get the balance right.

“The league is more important than the cup for me, and it always will be.

“Our game at Peterborough means we have to take that into account too. I have to pick the team that will compete in the league.

“We’ve always had relatively good success in the cup competitions. I want to win this game for the fans and the club, and to be in the next round when the Premier League teams come in.”