Robbo wanted the game off, but travelling fans changed his mind

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KARL Robinson said the fans were the only reason MK Dons’ friendly with Kettering went ahead.

The Nene Park playing surface would have been more apt for a Sunday league side rather than a team preparing to launch a League One promotion campaign, and upon arriving, Robinson was ready to call the affair off.

But when he went to speak to the referee and saw the number of Dons fans that made the short trip to Irthlingborough, he felt obliged to let the game go ahead.

“We were told it was going to be a good quality. The pitch has been immaculate in the past, but today it was nothing short of embarrassing. I told the players to play at 60 per cent. It wasn’t really a performance, more a kick-about in the park, which isn’t good for us.

“It’s not good for our preparation but it’s one of those things.

“I was close to calling it off. When I came out to talk to the referee, I saw how many of our fans were here and felt it would have been unfair to them.

“That pitch… if it was being played in the park, I don’t think it would have gone ahead.”

The manager, clearly frustrated by the playing conditions for his side’s first game back in England, said he would not be bringing his players back to Nene Park. Dons have played there several times in the past, against previous tenants Rushden and Diamonds, before Kettering moved in at the beginning of last season.

Robinson said: “We know not to come back and not to trust what people tell you. It’s a shame Kettering have found themselves in this position, but they could’ve shown us a bit more courtesy. It doesn’t take much to paint lines on the pitch or paint the goals. That’s just down to man power.”

The grey cloud hanging over the friendly had a slight silver lining though, with five players given a full 90 minutes on the pitch – the first time they have been able to do it since the end of last season. However, it should have been much more.

“Most of our starting 11 were supposed to play 90 minutes,” said Robinson. “But after seeing the pitch, I wouldn’t allow it.

“There were no injuries which is the biggest thing for me.

“We had loads of chances, but it was bobbling, people got pushed in the back. There’s nothing you can take from that.”