Manning urges Dons to be braver on the ball after second-half misery against Oxford

Liam ManningLiam Manning
Liam Manning | jpi
MK Dons 1-2 Oxford United

After another disappointing second half performance from MK Dons, head coach Liam Manning has questioned his side’s thought process as they threw away the lead to lose 2-1 to Oxford United on Saturday.

Leading through Hiram Boateng’s well-worked 11th minute goal, Dons controlled the flow of the game in the first 45 minutes and were good value for the lead. T

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he half-time interval though sparked an Oxford revolution, with the U’s starting brightly and not relinquishing control until they took the lead with 11 minutes to go, equalising through Matty Taylor before a calamitous defensive lapse from the home side allowed Mark Sykes to fire them ahead.

It was not the first time Dons have failed to carry their first half control into the second, doing so on Wednesday night against Plymouth, also against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough three weeks ago and against Stevenage in the FA Cup in early November.

Speaking after the defeat to Oxford, Manning said his players have to expect opposing teams to put them under pressure when they are in front, but must deal with problem better.

He said: “We expected them to press us second half, and for them to be more on the front foot and aggressive so we had to work twice as hard to keep the ball. We didn't do that.

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“I speak to the guys a lot about their thought process in possession. For me, they have to be looking in behind, furthest forward, feet, square, back in that order.

“You can pick up negative momentum with what you do with the ball, and I think we needed to be braver with the ball. What we did was square and back passes which invited pressure.

“It's not the first time, we have to step-up against good teams like Oxford. Step-up and be brave and go and run the game.

“When we're playing well like we were in the first half, it's easy to look good but when you're up against it, who is going to step-up and grab the game and show what they can do?”

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