No rest for the defeated as Dons target return to winning ways

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SO much for time apart – all of MK Dons’ players and staff were in on their day off today (Tuesday) to get over their 1-0 defeat to Walsall on Saturday.

After losing at the Banks’s Stadium, their second consecutive 1-0 defeat, manager Karl Robinson said he felt his side needed some time apart in order to come back stronger.

However, despite changing the players’ schedule to reconvene on Wednesday, there was a full compliment back at Dons’ Woughton-on-the-Green training ground on Tuesday, with their minds fully focussed on the challenges ahead.

“People can say what they want, people knock us, people can slate us, but it only makes us stronger as a group. And it’s doing that now,” said Robinson. “Results haven’t always been favourable in some games, but we believe we’re doing the right things. We’re happy.

“We were meant to be getting time away from each other. We changed our plans this week to get time apart, but everyone is in. We couldn’t stay away. We’ve got the bit between our teeth now.”

After some troubles on the road at Northampton and Walsall, it’s now back-to-back home games for Dons, starting on Saturday with the visit of Yeovil Town before Notts County arrive at stadium:mk next Tuesday night.

And while Dons’ form away from home has been patchy so far this season – with two draws and three defeats away to date – their form on home soil has seen them maintain a 100 per cent record, which is something Robinson is keen to build on.

“It’s nice to come back home,” he said. “We want to make this place a fortress and right the wrongs of what we do away as well. But this place has become a very special place to come, and it’s becoming a place people fear coming.

“The fans are really beginning to get behind us here too. We need them, and we do hear them. We do hurt when we lose, we do get frustrated with ourselves, and we do make mistakes.

“But we don’t do it because we don’t want to be successful here. I think the fans are beginning to see that.”

The two forthcoming home games mark the beginning of a busy three weeks for Dons, with seven games spread over a 21-day period. But despite the hectic schedule, Robinson doesn’t think it will be a big problem for his side, and if it is, it’ll be a problem for everyone else in League 1 as well.

“We’re all in the same boat,” he said. “We’ve had a good League Cup run too, but dropping out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy may prove to be a good respite for us.

“But that’s football. We’re not in the Premier League where we only play a certain amount of games – that’s just the way it is.

“The league is a lot stronger this year. Teams in the middle of the pack have got a lot stronger and spent good money. Swindon Town and Crawley have come in with good financial backing, plus Shrewsbury too.

“Coventry are still spending money, Portsmouth have still got good players, Doncaster have got good players, Sheffield United are still in it and Brentford look strong too.

“We can’t compete financially, but we know we can compete mentally and physically and we know we have the players at this club to challenge properly this year – and that’s our sole aim.”