Defeat to Gillingham a 'minor setback' but a reality check for Russell Martin

After a three-game unbeaten run, Russell Martin admitted Dons' 3-1 defeat to Gillingham was a setback, but not a huge one in MK Dons' quest to escape the League One relegation zone.

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 3:58 pm
Updated Saturday, 21st December 2019, 3:59 pm
Russell Martin

First-half goals from Mikael Mandron and Brandon Hanlan - coming within two minutes of each other - left Dons trailing 2-0 at the break, and despite Alex Gilbey's early second-half strike, Max Ehmer put the game beyond reach for the visitors.Kicking off earlier than the rest of the division, Dons had the chance to escape the relegation zone and stay out of it in the final game before Christmas. But in ending Dons' mini-recovery of late, Martin says it gives a reality check to anyone who thought their problems were over.

"This is a minor setback for us," he said. "It's a reminder for everyone in the dressing room and outside of it that we have not cracked it. We've got so much to work on. But the most pleasing thing is the players coming in and answering their own questions. I'm not going to go mental at them, but we all know what we need to work on.

"Anyone can beat anyone, which is what makes it so tight and interesting. I thought we could come here and get three points, but they have won their last five at home. We can't come here with that mentality, we need to try and win every game."

But their first-half performance at Priestfield did not warrant anything more than a defeat. Martin made two changes at the break, but despite pulling one back through Gilbey's third of the campaign, Ehmer's goal was a soft one to concede.

Martin continued: "We prepared for what they were going to do, but we cannot concede rubbish goals like that. We can hold our hands up if it's a really good goal, but we're conceding soft goals. And it surprised me because I didn't see that coming with the way we've defended in recent weeks.

"We kept plodding on, they've not cut us open – I don't remember Lee making a save otherwise. We could have had a goal or two at the end, we were the better side in the second half but unfortunately, we let in another and it took it out of our hands."