Consistency is key for Dons defender Paul Downing

Paul Downing hopes he has put a frustrating to life at Stadium MK behind him.

Tuesday, 3rd January 2017, 9:17 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:22 pm
Paul Downing

The defender, who signed from Walsall in the summer, struggled to find form in his early appearances for the club with a string of errors making him a target for the fans.

But since the arrival of Robbie Neilson at the helm, Downing looks more assured with the more direct and no-nonsense style of defending employed by the Scot.

"I think I'm starting to find some consistency," said Downing after the 0-0 draw with Chesterfield on Monday.

Downing and David Martin had an on-pitch spat in Karl Robinson's final game - a 3-0 defeat to Southend

"At the start of the season, it was very up and down and I made a few errors which obviously I want to cut out. I';m reasonably happy with my performances, and I just want to help the team, stay consistent, stay in the side and help the team win games.

"Coming to the club after a relegation was difficult. Moving into a new side, there are always little teething problems which you have to overcome. I feel more settled now, I'm enjoying playing for the new manager like everyone else. Hopefully I can keep getting better and showing the fans I'm a good player."

Under Neilson, Downing has been an ever-present at the back, but has played alongside three different centre-half partners - Joe Walsh, Dean Lewington and Jack Hendry, while George Baldock and George B Williams have occupied the full-back roles.

While consistency in the back line is often preferred, Downing believes Dons have the players to cope with the chopping and changing Neilson has had to do to cope with injuries in recent weeks.

Paul Downing

He said: "Lewie has been in the middle and at left back, and I thought he did well in the middle. Ideally, we want to keep it as consistent as possible, but if we can't, we have got people to come in and get on with it. It's not a major issue.

"Our organisation is something we've been working on, making sure people can't counter on us, while allowing the front line to express themselves. We're improving week on week, but we have to keep working on it. Keeping clean sheets is going to win us points."

And another clean sheet came at the Proact Stadium - their ninth of the season. But despite restricting lowly Chesterfield to barely a handful of chances, Downing felt Dons showed enough to warrant all three points in Derbyshire, and deserved more than the four points they picked up over the Christmas period.

"I thought it was a good away performance," he said. "We were solid at the back and created some good chances going forwards. The longer it went on, the more likely we were to win it, but we ran out of time. We'll take the point and move on.

Downing and David Martin had an on-pitch spat in Karl Robinson's final game - a 3-0 defeat to Southend

"We analysed them before and knew of their threats, we knew they were direct. As a back four, we nullified that and limited them to barely any chances.

"We were disappointed with the Charlton result because I felt we deserved at least a draw in that game. We beat Swindon and probably deserved to win at Chesterfield - but we'll take the four points. We want to win every game but we've kept momentum and now we have bit of a break before the FA Cup."

Paul Downing