THE scoreline may have been emphatic, but Karl Robinson admitted it wasn’t all smiles after Dons’ 4-1 victory at Cheltenham on Tuesday night.
Goals from Sam Baldock, Jabo Ibehre, Dean Lewington and Angelo Balanta helped Dons hit back from a goal down at the Abbey Business Stadium to put them into the hat for the Carling Cup second round draw.
But the tie could have been over at half-time as Cheltenham missed a series of chances to put the result beyond doubt as Dons struggled after conceding.
And manager Robinson said he wants to see his side playing in top gear more often after they carved League 2 Cheltenham apart in the second half.
“There was probably more weaknesses coming out of this game than on Saturday,” he said after the game. “I thought we played a lot better on Saturday, and yet we won 4-1 here.
“When the boys went into overdrive they were different class. That’s the frustrating thing – I know they’ve got it and I want to see it more.
“We showed our strengths and weaknesses, how good we can be and how bad we can be.”
There was a slice of luck involved in Cheltenham’s opener. Luke Summerfield cut insside from the left and fired a shot on target, but it took a wicked deflection off Gary MacKenzie, wrong footing David Martin who was already on his way down to block the initial shot.
Martin could arguably have done better with the deflection as he managed to get a block on it, but it spun into the net.
And the goal gave the home side a boost of confidence as they went in search of a decisive second. James Spencer, Josh Low and Danny Andrew all tested Martin and Dons looked lost at the back.
But it was another goalkeeping mistake – this time at the other end – which gifted Dons a way back into the tie four minutes before the interval.
Balanta’s fierce shot from the edge of the penalty area was blocked initially by keeper Scott Brown, but the ball fell kindly to Baldock six yards out who had the simple task of tapping home to make it 1-1.
Dons immediately stamped their authority on the game in the second half as Ibehre cooly slotted home just 27 seconds after the restart.
Headed goals from Lewington and Balanta around the hour mark then heaped more misery on the Robins as Dons cruised to victory.
But while Robinson was pleased to be in the hat for the next round, he was keen to see his side eliminate mistakes as they go in search of their first League 1 win at Exeter City on Saturday.
He said: “We missed five or six chances but the shot ratio is improving!
“There are still areas I’m not too happy with, and when I sit down with them to watch it back they will get a telling off because we have three more gears than that.
“But when we’re good, we’re good. We passed the ball with class and arrogance at times and I want to see more from them.”
Dons showed off most of their attacking options on the night, with Luke Chadwick, Dan Powell and Jay O’Shea all coming on in the second half revival.
But only Tom Flanagan was available to Robinson on the bench as defensive cover. And with Adam Chicksen playing out of position at right-back and Shaun Williams at centre back, Robinson reiterated that he’s determined to bring in another defender before the close of the transfer window, which is now just three weeks away.
He said: “We’re close, but I have to make sure he’s the right type of player who we know can cope with the way we play.
“We do play a unique style, probably the most football in all the league, and it’s difficult to find someone who can adapt to that. We have narrowed it down, we have spoken to people and clubs, and we need to get those deals nailed on.
“It’s in the hands of the Gods now to determine when they come along. But I will keep knocking on doors to find us the right players to get us out of this league.”