Dons deserved to beat Trotters, says Neilson

Robbie Neilson
Robbie Neilson

Robbie Neilson felt his side deserved all three points after battling back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.

In front of a Stadium MK league record crowd of 21,545 fans, Kieran Agard's second half strike on the hour mark levelled, after Jay Spearing struck on the stroke of half time for the Trotters.

Dons, wearing a celebratory gold kit to mark Milton Keynes' 50th birthday, did the brunt of the leg work in the second half in particular, with third placed Bolton seemingly happy to settle for a point.

But while clear-cut chances were at a premium, Neilson felt his side had done enough to warrant all three points.

"I think you'd all agree that in the second half, we had a lot of possession, good movement and created a lot of chances," he said. "We didn't create a lot of clear cut chances but we got into some good areas and bombarded the last 30 metres. But Bolton are a really good team, they're sitting third in the league. It shows how far we've come, coming back from being 1-0 down and we're disappointed not to get the three points.

"Bolton have a lot of experience, and a physical style. We knew we'd have to come into this game building momentum. We know the difference between going 1-0 up and drawing, and going 1-0 down and drawing is huge. I've watched Bolton a lot, and I've seen them go 1-0 up and the team they're playing crumbles with the physicality.

"While we're disappointed, there's belief we can go places."

Spearing's opener came from a costly free kick, given away by George Baldock deep into first half stoppage time. From the touchline, the former Liverpool midfielder whipped his ball into the centre looking for a touch, but it evaded everyone and curled in at the far post. Dons last four goals conceded have come from set pieces, but Neilson was more frustrated at the free kick in the first place.

He said: "I'm more disappointed we gave away the free kick to be honest. Any ball into the box with quality can go in, it's just one of those things."

Stuart O'Keefe and Maecky Ngombo, both signed earlier this week, made their first team debuts for Dons, and both gave the home side a new sense of energy. O'Keefe even played a part in the equaliser, getting a shock blocked before the rebound fell to Kieran Agard to lash home his 11th of the season.

Neilson said: "I think they did really well. Stuart gave us energy, and brought great experience and energy and got involved for the first goal. And Maecky coming on, as soon as he got the ball he had people on the back foot, with his step overs and going at people.

"I felt we needed more energy in there. I wanted to move Harvey out wide and I felt Stuart coming in would bring us more energy and drive from the middle of the pitch."

The game, dubbed the Gift of Football, saw the previous league attendance record of 21,345 tumble, with an extra 200 fans in for the game - the biggest under Neilson's tenure. And he felt the game was a fantastic advert for football in Milton Keynes.

"It was a great occasion," he added. "That's what we want to bring here. Big crowds and exciting football. Sometimes a 1-1 is more entertaining than a 3-0 win when you batter a team - the last 45 minutes is sometimes a non-event.

"Football is about entertainment, and hopefully we'll see a few of the people who don't come regularly coming back again."

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