Walsh restores Robbo’s faith in Dons’ defence

Joe Walsh scoring the winner against Reading
Joe Walsh scoring the winner against Reading

The emergence of Joe Walsh could be vital in MK Dons survival this season, according to manager Karl Robinson.

Walsh scored his first goal since joining the club last March in the 1-0 win over Reading on Saturday.

Karl Robinson ahead of kick-off against Reading

Karl Robinson ahead of kick-off against Reading

Antony Kay was suspended for the game, allowing Walsh to take over alongside Kyle McFadzean - who incidentally will be banned for the next two games as a result of picking up a 10th booking of the season - at the heart of the defence, and played a key role as Dons kept out Reading.

While goalkeeper David Martin was named man of the match for a string of good saves to deny the Royals, Robinson heaped praise on his goal-scorer, and fellow defender Matt Upson who has also returned from injury recently.

“I signed Joe for a reason,” he said. “He has been very unlucky with his injury and we’ve had to be very careful with him, just like with Matt Upson.

“Two or three months ago, we looked very bare without them.

“But now, with them both back and Joe scoring, it gives me more confidence in the back line.

“And there are other players who we’re thinking of bringing back to the club who may strengthen those areas.”

Walsh’s goal - an acrobatic volley from close range - came from a corner, something which Dons haven’t been able to do since the final day of last season. And that was something not lost on Robinson.

“I honestly cannot recall the last time we won 1-0 from a set piece! Was the last time we scored Yeovil?!

“Today, our delivery was excellent. We’ve had a negativity about the quality of our delivery. We can’t often cope with the physicality in the box, but we could today.

“As a group, we looked very strong.”

Dons looked a different side to the one which was handed a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Burnley on Tuesday night. Despite Reading having the better of the chances, Dons grew into the second half in particular and scores very much with the run of play after starting the half in a cagey manner.

Robinson later admitted: “I said something stupid at half time. I told them the game would be won 1-0, so I told them not to many any errors. We took it too seriously, because we didn’t take any risks either. We turned over possession a lot, but I’ll let them do it if it means we win games.

“We were all down and disappointed after Tuesday, but we immediately turned ourselves around. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but today it did.”

And though most would have accepted two points from home games against Burnley and Reading, Dons have three despite a 5-0 beating. It is not enough for Robinson though.

He said: “I wanted six points. That’s just how I am and I have to have that mentality.

“Our collective aim would have been to avoid the relegation zone, but we have to go into every game thinking we can win it.

“Coming off the back of losing 5-0, it’s a tremendous testament to the players.”