MK Dons manager Russell Martin was left disappointed by the response to an early penalty and the giving away of a “soft” second goal as his team lost to Lincoln City.
Speaking to the media after the game, the Dons manager felt disappointed in the teams’ display in the first half in particular, admitting that they struggled to bounce back after the early penalty.
He said, “Its a bit mixed really. First half, not happy at all. We were nowhere near the usual standard we’re at that we set, both in and out of possession, and once we conceded a goal, there was far too much anxiety, not enough confidence or belief, too many mistakes, too much disappointment when we lost the ball, and the reaction to losing it was not good enough.
“It was really disappointing because that’s been a positive for us as a team and group, and we scored a goal from reacting quickly to losing the ball.”
Martin felt the team improved in the second half and looked like winners until conceding a goal he considered preventable and could’ve nearly seen further goals conceded.
He said, “The second half felt completely different. For the first 25-30 minutes of the second half, I thought we were really good, controlled the game, got the ball and dominated, and they got really tired. Once we scored, I thought the minimum we’d get was a point and there’d be only one winner, but we gave away a soft goal that really wasn’t good enough as it cost us at least a point.
“After they score, we’re chasing the game and they get a couple of breakaway chances, which wasn’t how the game was before. We had some great chances to score, their goalie made some good saves and we missed a couple. Overall, I’m really disappointed but also I took a lot from the second half. But we have to learn really quickly and improve on a lot of things to be better.”
There was controversy over the penalty Lincoln won that gave the away side their opener after the referee penalised Baily Cargill, but Martin felt the response was as big a problem as the decision being incorrect.
He said, “Its not the reason we lost, but I think its the wrong decision and told the referee that. I know its a tough job in the middle of the pitch and on the whole, we’re pretty good in that we don’t give the ref or fourth official a hard time, but from his angle, he said it looked like Baily came in from behind. He hasn’t – it was shoulder to shoulder and he hooked it away.
“We’re disappointed we put ourselves in the position where it can be given and gives him a decision to make. I think its the wrong decision but we have to react better. Its played a huge part in the game but I’m not going to say its the reason we lost the game.”
Martin added that his analysts said Joe Mason was offside in response to Lincoln’s irritation at his side’s equaliser, but he praised the method that lead to the equaliser.
He said, “I think the analysts watched it back and said it was onside. If its wrong, he’s levelled it up and could’ve given it anyway, but it is what it is. The goal is a great reaction to losing the ball when we were dominating in their half at that point. They lose the ball but react quickly and Mason puts it away with a really good finish. They deserved it for the confidence and mentality after half time, but we gave away a really poor one and that’s the disappointing thing.”
Martin added that the game continued a pattern that has seen teams happy to let MK Dons have possession, and that it was now up to him and his players to work out how to turn that into long-term success capable of defeating future opponents on a consistent basis.
He said, “We’ve seen that already and we’ve seen it in all 4 games so far. Every team has posed us a different problem but every team has almost accepted we might have most of the ball. We’re having to find different solutions to different problems and today was another one. They were probably a little bit different to how we expected – they pressed a little higher and more aggressive than their last game, but we prepared because we have to expect that.
“We have to find the answers quickly to every problem because it’ll change week on week.”