Laird injury forced Dons off the gas against Rochdale
MK Dons 0-3 Rochdale
Russell Martin admitted Dons took their foot off the gas after Ethan Laird got injured in the first half, allowing Rochdale to cruise to a 3-0 win at Stadium MK in the season finale.
Laird took a hit from Gabriel Osho on the half-hour mark and was forced out of his final Dons appearance before returning to parent club Manchester United. With Dons taking a step back afterwards, goals from Aaron Morley, Jimmy Keohane and Stephen Humphrys saw Rochdale claim a routine win, going down to League Two with momentum while Dons drop out of the top half to 13th.
"It's disappointing," said Martin afterwards. "I actually quite liked the first half, we had a great chance and should have scored.
"But Ethan getting injured changed the game, just in terms of mentality. He was a real threat, and him going off hurt our intensity a bit. I think the lads saw him getting injured and it's tough, the last game when there's not much to play for. It's no excuse really.
"Hopefully for Ethan's and Manchester United's sake he'll be ok. It typifies our season really. He has been brilliant, has grown so much but it ended like that and our season ended like that.
"It's a disappointing way to finish in a transitional season. Ideally we'd have finished with a better result and performance. When they scored, it went all over the place."
Dale scored twice in four minutes at the start of the second half, effectively drawing a line under the result.
"We started so poorly," Martin continued. "From the kick-off, we knew where it was going but we didn't get it right. We just had too many individuals having a poor day. There were a few positives today, Brooklyn (Ilunga) getting on, David Kasumu getting 90 minutes and his token booking. But it's a frustrating way to finish.
"I'm incredibly proud. We've battled a lot. The pitch, finances, the amount of change in personnel, culturally as well. It won't change based on today."