One defeat won't upset Dons' apple cart

Mistakes at Portsmouth won't put Dons off their stride
George WilliamsGeorge Williams
George Williams

Playing out from the back has given some Dons fans a few hearts-in-mouths moments, but against Portsmouth on Tuesday, it was the first time a mistake had really been capitalised on.

Dons were beaten 3-1 at Fratton Park, with all three goals arguably coming from defensive errors. The bold ambition to pass short rather than lump long has paid dividends for Russell Martin since he took over, with the side playing gradually more impressive football as the weeks go by. When it goes wrong so close to goal though, it can have devastating results as Andy Cannon proved in firing Portsmouth into an early lead.

George Williams, playing at centre back recently, said the risks are outweighed by the rewards, and they will not be dwelling too much what happened against Portsmouth.

"It's bold and brave, and something we've all worked really hard on," he said. "It was the first time we made an error which has led to a goal. Russ has said to us that it will happen, and it is as much on him as it is us.

"We may have to adjust a few things, and be a bit safer sometimes, but ultimately it works really well for us. We've managed to get up the pitch well and it's hard to defend against.

"It's an attractive way of playing, but if you look at our team, we're not filled with target men to shell it long and hope for second balls. It's controlled possession and more often than not, it works really well for us.

"When you first start doing it, it's quite new. We've not really done it to the extreme but each week, you get more and more confident with it."

Defeat at Portsmouth on Tuesday was Dons' first loss in six games and came against a Portsmouth side yet to taste defeat at Fratton Park all season. But after the set-back, manager Martin said forming an identity at the club is a vital part of his role.

"Everyone has different beliefs in football," added Russell Martin. "This club is about having an identity and a style of play. We're not playing out from Lee for the sake of it. We've scored a lot of goals doing it, we created two of our best chances on Tuesday doing that. Some people just want to see the mistake, but that's fully on me. We're trying to do something at this club we're proud of, that can sustain us and move us forward. Sometimes it will cause us short term pain, but it has given us much more positive feelings than negatives.

"There will be some moments where you have to hold your breath, but it's part of the process. Fortunately, we've been getting results from that. It's not the only part of our game, it's the restart. There will be games we can't do it all the time, where we'll have to mix it up, and we're capable of that. It's the first time it has happened, and if it takes that number of games before it happens again, I'll take the positives.

"The guys are rightly earning the plaudits for the way they have been playing. It's nice to hear the players being complimented for that we're doing, and it shows teams have to work a lot harder than they used to to get results against us."