DONS’ Carling Cup adventure ended for another year with no fewer than 11 recognised first team players missing, but boss Karl Robinson refused to use it as an excuse after his side lost 2-1 to Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday night.
Andre Amogou’s deflected acrobatic effort a minute from time proved to be enough for the Championship outfit to see off Dons after the visitors had led for nearly an hour following Daniel Powell’s fifth minute goal, before Burnley drew level through Keith Trippier’s long-range free-kick mid-way through the second half.
After Saturday’s draw against Huddersfield, Robinson named a strong side to face the Clarets, but included several fringe players in the starting 11.
And more concerning than the result for Robinson was that both Darren Potter and Dean Bowditch were forced off through injuries and are now considered doubts for Saturday’s League 1 trip to Bury.
Robinson said: “We finished with no Stephen Gleeson, no Jay O’Shea, Darren Potter, Angelo Balanta, Charlie MacDonald, Gary MacKenzie, Mark Beevers, Mathias Doumbe, Adam Smith, Lewis Guy and Dean Bowditch through injury, being cup tied or through suspension.
“That’s a huge number of players at this level. And to have that amount of quality missing from the team, and to put in the performance we did tonight, I’m so proud of them.”
And after Dons last week sent a video to the Football Association asking for greater protection for their players, Robinson was far from impressed with some of the crunching challenges his players again had to contend with in the third round tie. And he bemoaned some refereeing decisions again not going his side’s way.
“There was a two-footed lunge (on Luke Chadwick) in the first half where the player’s body was completely off the ground,” said the Dons boss.
“If you’ve not got any control of your body in the tackle, then it’s worthy of a red card. If the referee hasn’t seen it then fine, as long as he holds his hands up.
“The free-kick wasn’t handball – he was two yards away! Then in the 91st minute, Powell knocks the ball through the full back’s legs, and he must have pulled his shirt two to three foot! All I’m saying here is that key decisions are going against us.
“I’m proud of the players, I’m not bitter. I just want people to see and understand the truth.”