KARL Robinson was delighted to leave the Memorial Stadium with all three points on Tuesday night as his side battled to a 2-1 win over Bristol Rovers.
The Dons boss praised his players’ spirit after going down to 10 men when first half goal scorer Sean O’Hanlon was shown a second yellow card.
Despite being a man down, Dons could have wrapped up the victory but for Rowan Vine’s badly timed slip when he looked certain to score, although Jeff Hughes’ late penalty was not enough for the home side to get back in it.
After the final whistle Robinson said: “I’m extremely happy. I thought the game plan and the players’ attitude towards the game was magnificent against a Rovers side who don’t deserve to be where they are in the league..
“What it did for us was ask questions of players who have been criticised for how they cope when the going gets tough.
“I thought the way they conducted themselves in the latter part of the game was excellent, and we’re very proud of that solid performance.”
Rovers went into the game stuck in the League One relegation zone and fresh off the back of a humiliating 6-1 defeat at Walsall last Saturday, and Robinson specifically targeted set-pieces as a weakness for the home side, and his tactics paid off in the first 50 seconds.
“We looked at an awful lot of footage and tried to utilise some of the things that were going against them in recent weeks,” said Robinson. “With the quality of Peter Leven and the size and aggression of our players I thought we could attack the ball - and I’m delighted with Sean for getting another goal.”
Dan Powell doubled the lead in the second half, but the game was turned on its head when O’Hanlon was given his marching orders and Dons conceded a late penalty as Rovers fought desperately for a point.
Robinson said: “The O’Hanlon sending off was for two bookings, so I’ve got no arguments. And for the penalty - well, it goes so quick. Referees are being asked to make decisions in seconds about a shot that is hit from four yards.
“I don’t know how you react - does he get hit in the face? But it has hit his hand, he has given a penalty, and thankfully it didn’t affect the result in the end, but it did make it difficult.”
Transfer deadline day signing Keanu Marsh-Brown made his Dons bow, coming on with 12 minutes remaining. And he impressed the fans with an array of tricks, bags of pace, and nearly got on the scoresheet in stoppage time - an impressive start according to his new manager, who likened him to a former Dons favourite.
Robinson said: “I knew how much Punch (Jason Puncheon) meant to the fans, and I tried to bring in players of that ilk that can win us games.
“One of the criteria when I sat down with the chairman last summer was to bring pace and entertainment value to the team.
“Keanu is a confident boy and conducts himself in a magnificent way, as I’d expect from a player coming from a Premier League club, and long may it continue that he entertains people.”