Robbo kept the faith when others didn’t

Daniel Powell

Daniel Powell

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Even when Dons were flirting with the bottom half of the table, Karl Robinson never gave up hope that his side could still make the top six.

Dons slipped as low as 12th place following the 3-1 home defeat to Coventry City at the end of November.

But fast forward five months, Dons beat the Sky Blues 2-1 at their temporary Sixfields home last Saturday to keep them well in the hunt for the final play-off spot with five games remaining.

“Even when we were 12th, I still had tremendous belief in my players,” said Robinson.

“People spoke about us getting relegated! We have one of the smallest squads in the league, and the worst injury record in the country.

“We’ve had to put two more beds in the treatment room. It says it all.

“(We are still in this) because of the players’ appetite. We’ve got a great captain, we’ve got a steady back four. We’ve always been in games.

“Tactically, I’ve had to change things a lot - sometimes enforced. We’re just fighting as hard as we can.

“This has been a difficult time, but I haven’t feared anybody.”

This Saturday, Dons take on Crawley Town at stadium:mk, but it’ll be a dramatically different team to the one which took to the field on Boxing Day when the side last clashed.

On Saturday, Robinson will have just three of the starting line-up which left Broadfield Stadium 2-0 winners - David Martin, Dean Lewington and Jordan Spence - available to him, after injury and loan recalls.

Robinson said: “Last time we played Crawley was on Boxing Day.

“Through no fault of our own, all we’ll have on Saturday are Jordan, Lewie and Dave. How can we keep doing this?

“This was just three months ago. I don’t know how to explain it.

“But even not having them, we’re still right in the mix and it’s through working hard.

The players have been magnificent.”

And one player that has stood out recently for the manager is Daniel Powell.

After a string of lackluster performances, Powell upped his game after being publicly slammed by his manager, who said he needed to do a lot more or risk losing his place in the side.

“I thought Powell was really good on Saturday. He has worked hard to get himself back in.

“I was public with my criticism towards him not too long ago, and I’ve got to be public praising him too.

“Since I had a go at him, he has stood up and been counted. He has been a big plus for us.”

Powell, and indeed the rest of his team-mates too, will need to start finding their goal-scoring boots if Dons are to continue to fight for the top six.

With the club’s two leading scorers, Patrick Bamford and Shaun Williams, leaving in January, and Ben Reeves ruled out for the rest of the season through injury, a lot of responsibility has been left on Izale McLeod and 19-year-old James Loveridge, on loan from Swansea.

Without a goal in five games at home, Dons have struggled to hit the net from open play recently, despite a five-game winning streak on the road.

But for Robinson, this isn’t a new problem.

He said: “We’ve had a massive problem with goal-scoring for a long time now, and it’s something we have to put right.

But even away, other than Izale’s goal, they’ve all come from set pieces and defenders.

“And if we can’t do it this season, we’ll have to do it in the summer.”


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