A WIN against the league leaders hardly moved Karl Robinson as he praised his players for another job well done.
Daniel Powell’s first half goal - his sixth of the season - was enough to see off Brighton at stadium:mk on Saturday, and Robinson was quick to down play his role in the victory, insisting that he’s already looking to Dons’ game against League One play-off rivals Rochdale.
“I’m not getting excited because it’s only one game,” declared the Dons boss after the match. “There’s a long way to go, but what it has said is that MK Dons are serious team, conduct ourselves in a professional way in front of great fans, and that we’re a big League One club with high expectations - regardless of our lack of money.
“My job as a manager is to do my job. I don’t want plaudits, but I’m in this game to improve people. I don’t get too concerned with who we play, and that is no disrespect to Brighton. I’m thrilled for my players after the number of hard games we’ve had recently. But I just take it as another game.”
After two strong home performances against Leyton Orient and Oldham Athletic which saw Dons earn just a draw, Robinson was pleased to see his side bounce back and score the goal that had eluded them last Tuesday.
Robinson said: “The pleasing thing was the performance level - we didn’t play any differently because they’re a good team.
“I felt when we regained possession, the way we passed, and moved the ball, it was a joy to watch.
“At times we were exhilarating to watch. Yes, it’s a philosophy of ours, but there is no good having one if the players can’t put it into practise. When we had 11 men, the football we played was great to watch.”
Sean O’Hanlon’s second half red card - his second and Dons’ fourth in a little under a month - put Dons under pressure as the table toppers pushed forward, but they created little in the way of clear cut chances.
“I have no complaint with the sending off,” Robinson said. “Sean made a tackle a few minutes before that he could have gone for.
“In the second half, when we had to keep our shape, I put on the players who could understand how to play with 10 men. You bring your younger players off, and you lose the flair, but we had some experience in the midfield and could finish the game well. I don’t remember them carving us open and that’s pleasing too.”
Robinson also praised his goalkeeper David Martin. Since his blunder which allowed Stevenage to equalise in added time in an FA Cup replay in November, the 25-year-old has been in impressive form, coinciding with Dons’ increasingly good record.
“He came back to a club which had high expectations of him. He hasn’t been a first team regular, so he’s not used to playing year in year out,” said Robinson.
“He was trained by a Spanish coach at Liverpool, and they have a different philosophy when it comes to things like dealing with crosses, so he’s been in a transitional period. But he’s getting better and better.”
Dean Lewington was delighted with the result, and believes that his side are now capable of winning both at home and away as they face a number of tough games in quick succession against their play off rivals.
“It’s a fantastic result. Brighton are well worthy of their lead at the top of the table,” said Lewington. “I think we played well in the first half and were good value for the three points.
“We have some important games coming up and we’re looking forward to them. We have played more games than some others, but we know we just have to go into these games and win to maintain our place in the play-offs.
“Our away record has improved too, so we’re happy to go home and away and get results.”
The captain admitted that he felt O’Hanlon’s dismissal was coming, but that the defence - which has now kept three clean sheets in a row - is used to playing with reduced numbers after red cards at Bristol Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and again on Saturday.
He said: “I think Sean’s red card looked like it was coming, and we’ve worked on being out numbered during training. But Brighton didn’t force Dave (Martin) into many saves.
“We forced Brighton into doing just what they didn’t want to do. They’re a passing team, and we forced them into putting high balls into the box, which isn’t one of their strengths - so it played into our hands.
“When you’re top of the table, it’s frustrating because you feel you should be beating everyone, and they’ll have felt like they should have got something from the game.”