Dean Bowditch admitted he hadn’t thought about scoring a winner against Shrewsbury, saying he was more focussed on his fitness programme as he made his first appearance of the season for MK Dons.
Last season’s top scorer has been sidelined since June with a knee injury, but got a 25 minute run-out at stadium:mk on Saturday, topping his performance off with what turned out to be the winner in the 3-2 win.
He was given a standing ovation as he came on, and an even louder cheer when he scored, and he admitted the support of the fans has helped him through a difficult period.
“I was told it’s a typical Bowditch goal!” he said. “It’s nice to hear, and bend one in the far corner. It was emotional, with all the lads coming over to me. They couldn’t be more pleased for me.
“It was fantastic, and at the end too. It has been nice to have that support when you’re out, seeing people every day asking how I am, telling me they want to see me back. I couldn’t have done it without them, the staff and the players as well.
“It has been frustrating. In September, I was nearly back. Deep down though, I knew something wasn’t right.
“I was kidding myself. It was getting worse and worse and I broke down in a session. It’s horrible for a player.”
But even though he had the fairy tale return, he admitted he was more concerned about keeping up with play.
He said: “For me, it was in my programme to get involved again. I’ve had a complex programme to stick to. I was told yesterday (Friday) that I’d come on, but I was more concerned with getting match fit.
“I’ve had a complex injury and it has been very difficult for me and the staff. I’ve been out for a long time, but eventually we found a programme and a technique of working without pain.
“In the last two or three weeks, I’ve come on leaps and bounds.”
Despite his return, Bowditch admits he’ll need to keep on top of the injury to prevent it coming back.
He said: “It’ll be a case of managing it for the rest of the season. But I’ve still got half a season to prove myself. It was a good start today, but I’ve still got to be in the physio room.”
And having watch on, frustrated, from the sidelines in recent weeks, Bowditch believes with himself, Daniel Powell and Luke Chadwick all nearing full fitness once more, Dons have a great chance of sneaking into the last of the play-off spots come the end of the season.
He said: “I’ve been watching the games while I was injured and to be honest we just weren’t playing very well for a period. It was uncharacteristic.
“It’s nice to get back to winning ways, no matter how we did it. We’re four points off the play-offs with a game in hand, so who knows?”