DONS boss Karl Robinson believes his side need to be ‘mentally stronger’ in the final 10 minutes of games to kill off the opposing teams.
Another late equaliser, this time at Deepdale against Preston on Saturday, further dented MK Dons’ hopes of climbing higher than fifth in League 1 after Darren Potter gave the visitors a first half lead.
And they looked good for all three points, barely giving North End a chance on goal until the 90th minute when Bailey Wright rose above the Dons defence to head home Danny Mayor’s free kick.
It has been a familiar trait for Dons of late, conceding a late equaliser against Wycombe Wanderers in March, and letting in two late goals against Carlisle United to sink them at stadium:mk three days later.
Robinson was left frustrated by another late equaliser at Deepdale - Dons’ eighth 1-1 draw in 2012 - and admitted his side need to be stronger at the death.
“We didn’t give them any chances,” he said. “It was a set piece that cost us, the fatigue and tiredness got to us, the keeper coming up threw us a little bit as well. We have to get mentally stronger in the last five minutes.
“It’s hard at the moment. But the fans were magnificent, and they know that we’re not getting the rub of the green at the moment and these late goals aren’t through a lack of effort.
“We have changed the back four for almost every game for the last six months, either through suspension or injury. In the last 10 minutes of a game, you’ve got to rely on instinct.
“And knowing what to do at set pieces. It has been difficult but I thought Adam Chicksen was excellent at right back and Gary MacKenzie too after two months out. Jay O’Shea has a knock, so have Luke Chadwick, Jabo Ibehre and Charlie MacDonald.
“And everywhere we seem to go at the moment, we’re meeting teams on a tremendous run or have something to celebrate.”
Potter’s first half strike came after a fine move involving Jay O’Shea and Alan Smith, playing in the lone striker role, and epitomised Dons’ now customary pass-and-move style to revered in League 1. After a flowing move which saw the ball switched from flank to flank, O’Shea spotted Smith in space on the edge of the box and slid the ball towards him. But Smith wisely dummied allowing Potter to break through the defence and neatly chip over Preston Keeper Thorsten Stuckmann.
But while the goal was easy on the eye, Robinson still wants his side to score more scrappy goals to kill teams off.
He said: “It was a fantastic goal, and a well worked move. We always seem to score these types of goals but we never get a scrappy one in the last minute! The ball just isn’t falling for us. Maybe with better quality finishing or a better quality final ball we could have clinched it but the way we played controlled the whole tempo.
“No-one saw their goal coming- it was not deserved. But now we’ve got to make sure stadium:mk is rocking on Easter Monday against Tranmere.”
Tranmere have been allowed an extra 24 hours of recovery ahead of the game after their 3-0 win over Stevenage on Good Friday - something Robinson isn’t pleased about.
““I think the league needs to look at the fixtures,” he added. “I don’t understand how half the league can play on Friday, the other half on Saturday and then they all be expected to play again on the Monday. It doesn’t happen in the Premier League, so why do they make the likes of us do it? It’s wrong.”