AUTOMATIC promotion out of League 1 is still on the cards for Dons this season, despite their 1-1 draw with Bury on Saturday, insists Dean Bowditch.
The 26-year-old netted the opening goal at stadium:mk, but saw his effort cancelled out by Steven Schumacher’s second half strike as Dons dropped two points against the struggling Shakers.
Kevin Blackwell’s men came with a game plan to shut up shop on the edge of their penalty area and invite Dons to try and break them down – something they struggled to do as the game wore on.
And Bowditch admitted that Dons’ performance wasn’t good enough against a team in the bottom four.
He said: “In the first half I thought we were comfortable and we looked dangers. Izale was unlucky with one that came off the post, and if that one goes in, it was pretty much game over.
“But 1-0 is always a dangerous scoreline and unfortunately they did nick a goal in the second half.
“After that, we didn’t really do much in the second half. We were a bit leggy and it just wasn’t good enough.
“We were getting frustrated at times. We’ve got proper footballers in our team who want to get the ball down and play, but when you’ve got a team that just come here and sit on the edge of the box – I don’t think people realise how hard that is to break down. But we’ve got to be better than that.
“We’re playing a team in the bottom four, we want to go up – we have to win our home games.”
Bowditch scored a brilliant individual effort to put Dons ahead after 14 minutes. Cutting inside two Bury defenders, his low strike from the edge of the box evaded Trevor Carson’s dive.
“The keeper should have saved it really!” he admitted after the game. “A few people have said it dipped at the end – David Martin said that from his angle that the keeper dived over it.
“When I hit it, I didn’t expect it to go in so it was nice to see it nestle in the back of the net.
“From there we should have kicked on, but we didn’t.”
Despite dropping two points against Bury, Bowditch still things automatic promotion is still a distinct possibility for Dons, though he believes the players need to show a bit more belief if they are to make it a reality.
“There are still loads of games left,” he said. “We just need to really believe we can do it. At times in the second half, we didn’t believe we could do it.
“We’ve got the quality, and we need to come out in every game believing we can win.”
There was a new but familiar face in the Dons line-up on Saturday, that of Izale McLeod who started his first game since moving from Portsmouth.
The club’s all-time leading scorer came close to extending his record on three occasions, the closest of which came off the base of the post towards the end of the first half.
Bowditch says he is pleased to see McLeod joining the squad, and hopes he can make the difference as the club pushes for promotion.
He said: “Izale looks sharp, he was unlucky with a few chances that didn’t quite fall for him, but he’s looking good in training.
“We’re all glad he’s at the club and we hope he can start scoring some goals quickly and get us up the table.”
Tuesday night sees Dons take on Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup third round replay at stadium:mk, one of a handful of important midweek matches coming up for the club.
But Bowditch likes playing regular games, and sees it as a good chance to build up some momentum.
He said: “We quite enjoy playing Saturday-Tuesday. We haven’t got a massive squad but the lads seem to enjoy playing game after game.
“We want to win every game we can, whether it’s in the cup or league.
“We want to get promoted, which is our main purpose, but we also want to beat teams like Sheffield Wednesday and get a big draw away so we’re all looking forward to it.”