Dons and Preston deserve to be Championship sides, says Robbo

Karl Robinson and Simon Grayson
Karl Robinson and Simon Grayson

Karl Robinson is chomping at the bit to renew the rivalry with Preston North End this Saturday at stadium:mk.

When the sides met back in March, it was in League 1, with Simon Grayson’s side in the midst of a sensational unbeaten streak which fired them into contention for automatic promotion, while Dons looked as though their own chances of sneaking into the top two had gone with a 2-0 defeat to the Lilywhites.

The remainder of the season is a familiar story to the Dons faithful, and though Preston missed out on automatic promotion on the final day they earned their way into the Championship via the play-offs.

For the Dons boss, meeting Preston early on in the campaign is a great way of announcing Championship football to Milton Keynes.

“It’s a great game for us to have here,” he said. “They’re a very traditional team who have been around for many years against arguably the most controversial and the youngest. We’re at both ends of the spectrum.

“One of the first text messages I got when we got promoted was from Peter Ridsdale. I got accused of being a Preston fan in the play-offs, but I felt they deserved to go up. And we’re both rightfully in the Championship.

“The two games that stood out last year were the Bristol City game and the Preston game here. They felt like a different level of game. And this time it is at a different level.

“We went toe-to-toe for such a long time and they deserved to go up. If the roles were reversed, I’m sure they would say the same. We’ve got a lot of respect for them.”

Dons’ last defeat came against Preston at stadium:mk, and Robinson felt it had almost ended his side’s chances of getting the final automatic promotion spot behind a rampant Bristol City.

He said: “I remember coming into my office after the Preston result and being the lowest I’ve ever been. We’d had a run of poor results too. But we got better and better.

“We rode our luck at times, but where we both sit now is much healthier.”

Dons got off to a winning start in the Championship last Saturday, hammering Rotherham 4-1 away to hit top spot.

Preston meanwhile played out a 0-0 draw with promotion favourites Middlesbrough - a result Robinson feels is equally as impressive as the one his side put in, given the level of opposition.

“I thought they were sensational on Saturday,” he said. “Some people will say their 0-0 is better than our 4-1 because of the quality of the opposition. That’s not being disrespectful to Rotherham, but Middlesbrough are favourites to go up. To deny them shows well-drilled and organised they are.

“They’ve grown in confidence and belief. Simon Grayson has a way of playing, he knows how to get results, but we need to negate that and make sure we are better than them in certain areas of the park.”