DAVID Martin says Dons will do all they can to stop free-scoring Sheffield United from winning on Saturday.
After keeping his 17th clean sheet last Saturday against Scunthorpe – breaking his own club record – the keeper likened Dons’ vital clash with the Blades to their game against Peterborough last season.
Posh came to stadium:mk in fine form, but came unstuck against a resolute Dons defence, going down 1-0 to a Gary MacKenzie header.
United are currently enjoying a run of six straight wins, having scored 20 goals in the process as they look to secure the final automatic promotion spot ahead of city rivals Wednesday. But Martin believes his side have enough to get the job done.
He said: “It’s like when Peterborough came here last year – they were on a great run and we ended up keeping a clean sheet.
“They’ve scored a lot of goals this season and they’re flying at the moment, and deserve to get promoted, but we are going to go out there and we’re fighting for fourth spot so we going to go at it hammer and tongs.
“This is why you play football. Sheffield United are an excellent team, and they’re on a good run. They deserve the respect and deserve to go up. It’ll be a good game to play in.”
Martin’s second record breaking run of clean sheets came with four games to spare. And he did it in style as he kept out Jake Cassidy’s spot kick in Dons’ 3-0 win over Tranmere Rovers on Easter Monday.
Extending the record further against Scunthorpe, Martin says he would never have believed he could break the record twice in as many seasons.
He said: “At the start of last season, if you’d said I’d get 16 clean sheets and would break the record again this year, I’d have said ‘no chance!’ because of the way we started off. It was a new team and we were getting used to playing together, especially away from home.
“But we got to 15 clean sheets last year with about 10 games to go and that final one just wouldn’t come, silly goals here and there.
“You can never bank on a clean sheet. But I enjoy the way the team plays and we’ve all taken to it.
“It’s up to 17 now, so it’s a good record to get. I’ve had a great back four in front of me all season, but we defend from the front. I get more to do when I’m away from home, but I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve played.
“I think we’ve played 51 games now, and that’s a lot! But I’m really enjoying it and I hope to beat it again next year, regardless of what league we’re in.
“It has been a consistent season for me, it’s a part of maturing as a goalkeeper, and I’m getting there. But as a goalkeeper, you can be on a run like that and then make a silly mistake – it’s just one of those things.
“I’ve got to remain switched on for the end of the season, hopefully the play-off final.”
And that confidence has to carry for the remain three games of the regular season, as Dons look to hold on to the fourth place they have fought so hard for in recent weeks. Having overtaken Huddersfield on goal difference, Martin thinks Dons have to win their last three games – starting with United on Saturday – to have the advantage of playing the second play-off leg at stadium:mk.
“We cannot take our foot off the pedal now,” he said. “We want to finish above Huddersfield. It’s different to last year, because we were the underdogs, but this time we’re carrying the momentum. Last year, we were just trying to get through the play-offs but this time we’re going to try and enjoy them.
“For so long, we were thinking of automatic promotion, so when it was taken away, it hit some of the players. We know what we have to do now though and we’re all pulling in the right way.
“Last year we found it difficult playing the home leg first. We got a decision against us that didn’t help and gave them a foothold.
“Going there was like a cauldron and they knew what they needed to do at home. We want to get the second game at home. We want to get them back here and show what we have been doing all season.”