Neilson happy with Dons' response but disappointed with a point

Robbie Neilson
Robbie Neilson

Robbie Neilson was happy with his side's response after back-to-back defeats, but was left disappointed as Dons could only draw with Walsall on Tuesday night.

Chuks Aneke's first goal since January opened the scoring, but Tyler Roberts' penalty, after he was fouled by Ethan Ebanks-Landell, 11 minutes into the second half shared the spoils.

REPORT: MK Dons 1-1 Walsall

It was a marked improvement in performance from the dismal defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday as Dons went down 2-0 at Fratton Park, and though Neilson felt his side looked significantly better, he was frustrated not to come away with more goals and points from the game against Walsall.

"I asked my team for a response, and I think the fans who were here saw a team that worked extremely hard and passed well, but couldn't get that second goal," he said.

"We're not satisfied with a point. The first half was the best we've played in a long long time. We passed well, created numerous chances but didn't get the second goal.

"And even at the start of the second half we were the same but I felt a nervousness of not getting the second goal, and we let them back in it with a poor decision for the penalty.

"All in all, I think the performance was great, our work-rate was fantastic, miles better than Saturday. The response was there but the frustration is that, with the number of draws around about us, we had the opportunity to jump a lot of places tonight and we didn't do it.

"Walsall were more than happy to come and get a point here today - you could tell that by their celebrations. They could sit in and try, wait for us to open up and hit us on the break which is exactly what they did.

"Obviously you need to score goals, and we didn't score enough to win it."

Worrying for Neilson was Osman Sow's injury, forcing the substitute off just 20 minutes after coming on in the second half. The manager has predicted around two weeks before Sow will be fit again after picking up a knock on his ankle, and after Aneke played for 90 minutes for the first time this season, he too may not be fit enough to start on Saturday.

Neilson said: "(Chuks) can't play a lot of games in quick succession, so it's frustrating to potential lose Osman for a couple of weeks with his ankle, which is a massive disappointment because we want to see them play together. But now it's an opportunity to see the others step up to the plate.

"The plan was to bring Chuks off, but we kept him on a little longer and then Osman got injured, so it meant we had to keep Chuks on. It was great to have him back, his link-up was top drawer. We now just need someone else to play alongside him."

Dons remain 14th again after the draw, but with Bristol Rovers and Scunthorpe dropping points on the night, Neilson's side could have scraped into the top half with victory over Walsall. But with another home game against Oldham coming up on Saturday, Neilson is confident of picking up their first win in four at the weekend.

"It's about being resilient in this league." he added. "There will be some managers disappointed with a point tonight, others delighted.

"Our disappointment is missing the chance to jump up a bit when we should have but we'll dust ourselves off and go again. If we put in the same work rate on Saturday, we'll be alright."