Frustration is the word for Manning after Gillingham draw

MK Dons 0-0 Gillingham

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 1st January 2022, 6:24 pm
<p>Liam Manning in the Dons dugout</p>

Liam Manning in the Dons dugout

Frustration was ‘the exact word to sum it up’ on New Year’s Day for Liam Manning after watching his side draw a blank against Gillingham at Stadium MK.

The goal-less draw was Dons’ first at Stadium MK since October 2019 in the demise of Paul Tisdale’s reign at the club, but unlike the lockout against Coventry a little over two years ago, Manning’s men remained seventh in League One as opposed to teetering on the brink of the drop zone.

In a game of few chances at either end, Dons’ 67 per cent possession came in no small part thanks to Gillingham’s deep-lying defence as they stuck men behind the ball to prevent the likes of Scott Twine, Matt O’Riley, Troy Parrott and Mo Eisa from really troubling keeper Jamie Cumming between the sticks. And it paid off as they ended their run of six consecutive defeats, while Dons will see it as two points dropped against the relegation strugglers.

“We had such a lot of control,” said Manning afterwards. “I was pleased with elements that we had worked on recently - back third and mid-third, trying to have a lot of control and we did that, but it was clear to see we were lacking in the final third.

“Whether it was decision or execution, it just wasn't quite right. We can't jump on the lads straight away, they've scored so many goals this season, they've provided so much entertainment and been clinical, so it's difficult to do it every week. It wasn't for a lack of trying today.

“We had a clean sheet, we defended well, but we didn't do the hardest part - scoring goals.”

Far from criticising Gillingham’s approach though, Manning said he understood manager Steve Evans’ game plan after their dismal run of late, adding: “Understandably, they haven't had a game for a long time and their game plan worked. They frustrated us. We'll take it on the chin and move on.

“It's difficult - the hardest thing sometimes. When a team comes out and engage us higher, we looked dangerous getting at their back players. But because we did it so well, they sunk deeper and deeper. It was similar at Shrewsbury and Doncaster away when we came away with nothing, but it shows a step in progress.”