David Martin admitted knowing Izale McLeod didn’t help at all when it came to saving his penalty on Saturday in the 2-0 win at stadium:mk.
The Dons keeper kept his side in the lead after Kyle McFadzean tripped Dons’ all-time leading goal-scorer, now playing for Crawley Town, in the 68th minute, conceding the spot kick. McFadzean was given his marching orders, but McLeod’s penalty was struck down the middle, and Martin was able to save with his legs.
Dele Alli’s first half strike put Dons into the lead, but Dons would have to wait until the last minute to make it comfortable as Benik Afobe lashed home a second.
It could and should have been far more comfortable for the home side, who wasted a whole host of first half chances, and Martin admitted he had a quiet afternoon until the penalty decision.
“It was a pretty quiet afternoon until the penalty decision. Fortunately I guessed right - Izale has gone down the middle, so it was just a case of getting the ball clear. After that, it was a busy one for me.
“To be honest, I know Izale’s penalty history and he is all over the place! Guessing where he’s going to put it is good going! At the end of the day, penalties are a lottery.
“I thought it was a red card, but I wasn’t sure if it was inside the box. I was setting up for a free kick, so got a bit of a shock when it was a penalty.”
Martin’s save ensured Dons kept their fourth clean sheet in a row, and now haven’t conceded a goal in six hours.
He said: “The lads have kept four clean sheets in a row, and that’s six hours. But that game in itself felt like six hours.
“It was great to come away with a clean sheet, we defend from top to bottom and it’s a team effort.”
While the victory in the end was comfortable, it was a frustrating one to watch after breezing past Manchester United in the week.
For Martin though, the success shows Dons are capable of winning in different ways, with teams inevitably coming to stadium:mk set up to stifle them.
And after the media spotlight was shone in their faces following the United victory, Martin says it was a good way of getting back to work.
“I was in a daze until Thursday evening, when I realised I had another game to play,” he said. “It’s not hard to get your mind right - we’re professional footballers at the end of the day.
“On Tuesday, it was draining because we had a game plan from the gaffer to absorb the pressure, and we had to do the opposite today. If we can mix our game plans up like that, who knows where we’ll be at the end of the season.”
Without a game on Saturday, Dons now have two weeks before they’re in competitive action again.
And for the keeper, it’ll be a much-needed mental break, as well as a physical one, following the huge start to the season Dons have had.
He added: At the start of the season, it’s fast and furious so I’ll just be resting up the early little niggles.
“As a goalkeeper, you’re mentally tired too. If a striker has an off-day, it’s easier than if a defender of keeper does and it’s there for everyone to see.
“It’s a tough start with AFC and Manchester United, but to finish it with a clean sheet is perfect.”