First goal was a long time coming for Paul Downing

Paul Downing celebrates his goal
Paul Downing celebrates his goal

It may have bounced in off his shoulder, but Paul Downing will take the goals however they come.

The defender got the final touch on Harvey Barnes' fierce ball across goal to score Dons' second goal of the afternoon after just 11 minutes against Shrewsbury as Dons picked up their first win in four matches, winning 2-1 on Saturday.
Downing hadn't got on the scoresheet since signing from Walsall in the summer, and despite the unorthodox finish, he said he will take them however they go in.

He said: "He crossed it and it came off my shoulder - I'll take them however they come to be honest! I feel I should be scoring more goals from teh back, it was a long time coming but I'm very happy.

"I'm delighted. It's something we worked on on Friday, being a bit more inventive at set pieces. It was an important goal in the end and got us the three points.

"I've not had many chances this season, it has been disappointing not always going up for set pieces. I had a chat with the manager about it, so it's down to me to get the timing right and get my head on things."

The defence looked set for another clean sheet as the clock ticked over to 90 minutes, but a late Stephen Humphrys goal pulled one back for Shrewsbury - a source of frustration for Downing.

"It was a scrappy goal, he took it well and didn't give us much chance, but overall we were solid at the back," said the defender. "We are a lot more solid, which is what the manager wants. We're staying in games, and we have a lot of quality at the top of the pitch so it's important to shore up at the back and let the guys up front win us the game.

"The game plan from the off was to be a bit more unpredictable and mix it up. I thought Chuks and Kieran were a handful in the opening 15 minutes, and that's where we won the game. At times, it got ugly but the main thing is getting the three points in the end.

"We probably gave a few too many fouls away and allowed them to get balls into the box, but overall we deserved to win."

The win sees Dons climb to 15th in League 1, eight points away from the drop zone and 11 from the play-offs. While it remains a big ask to reach the top six, Downing isn't ruling out a late surge if he and his team-mates can keep picking up points and momentum.

"Throughout the season, there are always ups and downs," he said. "I think we lost a few close games 1-0 and we went through a bit of a goal drought. We can't afford to get too high or too low, there are a lot of points still to play for.

"It's still really tight in the table. Hopefully, we can keep pushing into the middle of the table. We know anyone can beat anyone so we won't give up on the play-offs just yet.

"It's a cliche but we just take it one game at a time. We've got targets for each five games, and we've got three today so we look forward to Bradford and we'll go there to try and win."

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