Dons’ midfield must start scoring more

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It was an unfamiliar Karl Robinson who appeared after the final whistle on Saturday to speak to the media.

Usually, even in defeat, he can see a light at the end of the tunnel, can find a positive.

But the 1-0 defeat left the manager scratching his head, a frustration clearly growing inside him, and under his feet on the badly balding stadium:mk pitch.

After the defeats at Colchester and Carlisle earlier, he admitted he was let down by the players.

On Saturday though, he seemed at a loss as to where to turn next.

He said: “I’m off on another scouting mission tonight, but I’ve got a lot of questions to be asking myself about what we’re doing.”

It doesn’t take a genius to work out Dons’ current shortcomings are in the goals scored tally.

Dons have scored nine times in their last 10 games, and those nine have come in just four of the matches.

In 34 League 1 games this season, Dons have netted just 48 times.

It’s easy to point the finger at Patrick Bamford’s departure in January as a reason for the goals drying up, but in previous years, goals have come in from all over the field - Dean Bowditch has twice been top scorer with Dons while operating from the flanks.

This time around, Ben Reeves is chipping in, but Stephen Gleeson, Darren Potter, Luke Chadwick and Daniel Powell have added just four league goals between them and for a team with play-off ambition, that is simply not enough, according to Robinson.

“I’m going to be totally honest - the three behind haven’t scored enough goals,” he said.

“When your front player isn’t scoring, those in behind have to step up, and they haven’t this season, for whatever reason.

“I can’t sit and wait for things to happen. I’ve been out on scouting missions again. Something has to change, because it simply isn’t working.”

Loan signings Larnell Cole and Sanmi Odelusi have barely been given enough time to get to know their team-mate’s names, but are being lumbered with the huge responsibility of rescuing Dons’ ailing season. The pair were drafted in though as a result of another loan player, Samir Carruthers, being ruled out for the rest of the season.

And Robinson believes the loss of Carruthers has been underestimated.

He said: “Recently, the biggest loss for me has been Samir Carruthers. He was starting to make real impacts on our games.

“He set both goals up at Walsall, he scored against Oldham, but then we lost him.

“That was massive for me. He was beginning to change games.”

But, as has been the case for two seasons, Robinson is left ruing injuries blighting what could have been a successful season.

Bowditch has only been able to take part in six matches for Dons this season, Potter is out for the rest of the season, Carruthers and Hodson likewise. David Martin, Antony Kay and Daniel Powell have also spent long periods on the sidelines.

Robinson believes he still hasn’t picked his strongest team in 18 months, but feels his at the start of the season squad would have been capable of making a serious challenge for the play-offs.

“I think if we’d have kept everyone fit, and kept hold of Patrick in January, we’d be right in the thick of the play-offs. I really believe that.

“But you don’t know what will happen in football. I could get the players I’m chasing in, we could start scoring goals again, and we could get back in the mix.”