Karl Robinson says he can’t wait to do it all over again, despite going through an emotional rollercoaster in Dons’ League One play-off semi-final first leg against Peterborough today (Sunday).
The Dons boss watched his side produce a spectacular second half comeback to win 3-2 at stadium:mk, although the gloss of the victory was somewhat tarnished by Stephen Gleeson’s late sending off and Grant McCann’s subsequent penalty. It should never have been a penalty, and the Dons midfielder was unlucky to see red.
Gleeson brought down Mark Little as he raced through on goal after Posh hit Dons on the break with just under 10 minutes remaining, but the foul clearly occurred outside the penalty area, and with players covering, the Irishman was unfortunately to be sent off.
However, referee John Moss gave the spot-kick and Gleeson his marching orders. But Robinson was dignified in his post-match comments, saying: “Gleeson should have bought him down earlier, but he didn’t because he’s honest. It was a clash of legs on the edge of the box and Gary MacKenzie and Luke Chadwick were coming around to cover.
“I had a productive chat with the referee, and I hope the FA can look at it because he’s a wonderful talent, and for him to miss out on the next leg would be criminal for us. It was a foul but a yard or two outside the box, but that’s football and it was a great spectacle.”
McCann’s converted penalty was the final goal of five in a fantastic game of football that saw Posh take an early lead through prolific striker Craig Mackail-Smith, but Dons hit back with a 10-minute second half blitz just after the break. Goals from Daniel Powell, Sam Baldock and Angelo Balanta saw the game turned on its head, while Posh’s Charlie Lee also saw red for two bookings before Gleeson’s controversial sending off and penalty.
Nevertheless, Robinson says he can’t wait to get to London Road on Thursday and hopefully finish the job.
He said: “I would have gone to London Road happy with any lead, but we knew it wouldn’t be finished today. But with the quality we have in this team, we know we can score goals. Our set-pieces were excellent, even without Peter Leven in there. It’s going to be a fantastic tie and I wish it was tomorrow.
Peterborough can score goals at will, even if we had a four or five goal lead it wouldn’t have been all over. But when we had the man advantage and a two-goal cushion, we shouldn’t have taken our foot off the pedal. We play with a passion and purpose to play through the opposition, and we didn’t do that towards the end. But 3-2 up going to London Road, I can’t wait.”