MK Dons manager Russell Martin criticised the opening 50 minutes of his team’s performance against Shrewsbury but praised his team’s resolve to fight back and draw.
Martin was speaking after the Dons came from 2-0 down to draw with the Shrews at stadium mk.
The Dons boss said the result didn’t quite make up for a dreadful opening where the hosts fell 2-0 down and could’ve fallen further behind, but he was still happy with how the team dug in to recover a point.
He said, “I should feel better about making a comeback and the lads finishing the game strongly because the last half hour was really good. But I don’t think it quite makes up for how poor we were before that.
“The whole dynamic and context of the game, and both teams’ mentality changes when you concede a goal that early. Its unacceptable. Its happened too many times, and tonight is the quickest one. We really need to look at it. Its so frustrating and I’m embarrassed by the fact we concede so many goals so early. It just changes the whole game plan.
“They came out more aggressive and looked excited at the opportunities to counter, as they felt we didn’t recover quickly enough from conceding the goal. But what I would say is that I’m proud of how the players came back in the last half hour, with an outstanding tempo, intensity, energy and courage and conviction to keep going and keep playing.”
Shrewsbury’s opening goal came with less than one minute on the clock, and Martin said this was something the team needed to investigate after another early concession.
He said, “We didn’t respond well enough. It gives them a feel in the game that they can get even more out of the game. We were just nowhere near what we need to be in the first 20 minutes, but when you concede so early, it can be so difficult.
“It changes the whole course of the game – changes their approach, breeds anxiety as we’ve done it so many times, and we need to look at it forensically as staff and players to avoid it happening again.”
Martin also said it was a tactical approach to replace Lasse Sorensen with David Kasumu after just half an hour, accepting his initial midfield selection had to be re-arranged.
He said, “We needed David on to help protect the back 3 more. It didn’t need to be Lasse, but unfortunately for him I took him off. We needed to help the team and everyone has to accept its never personal, but always professional and we put the team first. I thought David was outstanding when he came on.”
The Dons made 4 changes to the starting line-up from a 3-1 weekend defeat by Hull City, and Martin took responsibility for these changes not quite working in the way they were anticipated.
He said, “We lost 3-1 at home despite the performance being good so we had to try and inject some energy and something different somewhere and it didn’t quite work. I take responsibility for that. I trust every single player we have in the squad that when you put them on the pitch to produce a performance, they can, and we didn’t do that. I’ll take responsibility for the changes but the people who came on made a big difference tonight.”
When comparing the change in mentality between the fact the Dons took a while to respond to the early first goal and the second, Martin said the second goal seemed to lead to his team becoming more determined to avoid a second straight home defeat.
He said, “I think at that point, there’s nothing to lose. They were that angry with themselves and frustrated with what was going on that its fight or flight, where you either give up and accept its not your night or you roll your sleeves up together and its not gonna be that kind of night.
“I’m really proud of the reaction after the second goal. I don’t know what the change is, but there was definitely less to lose”