Dons target Charlton scalp

Shaun Williams celebrates his first half penalty which gave Dons the lead in their 1-1 draw against Charlton at stadium:mk in September.
Shaun Williams celebrates his first half penalty which gave Dons the lead in their 1-1 draw against Charlton at stadium:mk in September.

DONS are good enough to beat runaway League 1 leaders Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night, according to assistant manager John Gorman.

The Valley has been an unhappy hunting ground for Dons in recent years – losing 1-0 there last season and 5-1 the season before, despite taking the lead early in the game.

The earlier meeting between the two sides this season ended in a 1-1 draw at stadium:mk, and Dons’ recent good run against the division’s top sides has put them in good stead for the all-important clash.

After Saturday’s game with Bury was postponed on Friday due to the freezing conditions, Gorman is keen to get back out on the pitch and playing again.

“We were training on the pitches again, so it was nice to be back out there.” Gorman said. “It’s still very hard under foot but the lads had a great buzz about them.

“You do miss being out on the proper grass and everybody is looking forward to playing against Charlton. It should bring the best out of us. There was an extra spring in our step.

“We’re looking forward to playing a top team. We haven’t missed too many games to be honest, and we’re raring to go. We go there full of optimism and relishing the chance to take them on.

“We played exceptionally well here earlier in the season and should have been more than a goal ahead.

“They came back in the second half and equalised, but we shaded it on the day and deserved maximum points. They’ve kicked on since that and have had a great season.

“It can be frustrating when games are called off but the best thing that can happen sometimes is the other games getting called off too.

“Oddly enough, the three games that went ahead all affected us! It would have been nice to get the game in, earned three points, and put pressure on those around us. Sheffield Wednesday lost to Exeter which is a big result for us as we can still catch them.”

The Addicks are seven points clear at the top of the league and have enjoyed watching their play-off rivals take points off each other in recent weeks as they continued to increase the gap to the chasing pack, currently led by Sheffield Wednesday in second.

But Gorman thinks that even though their lead at the top looks unassailable, you never can tell what is about to happen in football.

He said: “Charlton look difficult to catch, but you never know. It’s second place that everyone still wants to get and we’re very much in the mix for that.

“We need to beat teams like Charlton, but we were still disappointed not to have the home game against Bury, because three points there are just as valuable.”

While some still question Dons’ nerves in the really big games, the last month has said otherwise, with two fantastic performances against QPR, and creditable draws against Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town.

Dons have won just once in 2012 though – the 1-0 victory on January 2 against Colchester – and are keen to get back to winning ways.

With that in mind, Gorman says that he and manager Karl Robinson aren’t going to south London with a draw in mind.

“Karl feels we’re as good as anybody in this league,” he said. “We can go to Charlton and match them.

“We have no fear about playing them – we love playing the big teams and showing them what we can do.

“In the context of the season, a draw would be a great result against Charlton, but we never think like that. If we get a draw, we’ll accept it as a good result, but we’re good enough to go there and win.

“We’re good enough to beat anyone on our day. If we go there and play like we did at QPR then there is no reason why we can’t get three points.”

And in a rare occurrence for any side, Dons are looking at a full strength squad to pick from ahead of the game at The Valley, and Gorman hopes they have the tactics right to cause some problems for a side that has only lost twice in League 1 all season. Both away from home.

“We have a full squad to pick from. Jabo Ibehre has been out for a little bit with illness but is back in training and looks on fire and Charlie MacDonald wants to celebrate his birthday with a goal. We have a lot of positives,” added Gorman.

“Last year, it was a very close encounter. It will be a tight game and we can go at them and give them some problems.”