Poor first half performance cannot happen again, says Smith

Cambridge United 1-0 MK Dons

The first half performance against Cambridge United was not up to scratch from an MK Dons point of view, Matt Smith said after the 1-0 opening day defeat on Saturday.

Smith, making only his third start since moving from Manchester City in January, was one of the few players to emerge from the first half well, looking Dons’ brightest player on the pitch. And his strike inside the opening minute thumping the bar could have made for a wholly different story too.

But trailing to Harvey Knibbs’ strike on 17 minutes as Dons floundered to find their feet allowed Cambridge not only to edge their noses in front, but to dictate the flow of the game thereafter.

Speaking afterwards, Smith said Dons had to ensure performances like the first 45 minutes would not happen again.

“Everyone knows that first half wasn't us as a performance,” he said. “Out of possession, we were too passive and showed them too much respect.

“The reaction was a lot better in the second half and we showed what we were about. Coming to a place like this, you know it's going to be a challenge especially getting back into the game.

“We know that's not us, but it's a long season and we understand it's frustrating and we can take positives from the second half.

“We had a lot of possession but at times didn't cause a threat which is disappointing. Going into the next couple of weeks it has to get better. We controlled the game, but they scored and dropped off which allowed us to get on the ball a bit more. But I think we have to improve in their half of the pitch.

“It's hard to break teams like Cambridge down. We're disappointed not to create more with the control we had in the second half especially.”

Like head coach Liam Manning, Smith dismissed the excuse the newer players struggling to gel into the squad.

He said: “It's easy to say there are a lot of new lads coming in and it does take time, but that's not an excuse, and that's not why we put in that 45 minute display.

“We knew it would be said if things didn't go well, but we've got a tight group and I'm sure we'll react positively next week.”