MK Dons manager Russell Martin was pleased to see his side beat Northampton Town despite what he saw as a flawed performance.
The Dons boss spoke after an eventful game at stadium mk, which saw a strike by Charlie Brown in the final minutes with the game win it for the home side.
Martin reflected that while he was pleased to see his team win, he also felt they got away with it to some degree
He said, “I am really pleased we won. There is a lot to learn and we can’t be that poor again. We got away with that today, but what I would say is that we would’ve lost that game a short while ago. For them to come back and show that mentality and character is something they need to keep growing and keep building.
“We have real momentum, which is brilliant. The guys don’t know when they’re beaten. Their mentality and togetherness is growing all the time, and their resilience is hugely improved. That’s down to the characters in the group and the belief they put in.”
Martin praised Northampton’s display as part of overall proceedings, but also took time to praise his team to find a way past them in the end.
He said, “Today is really difficult because we’re playing a team that have real belief in the new manager and what they’re doing, with real energy, intensity and desire to do well for the staff they have. They’re enjoying themselves and they scored early, and on a really difficult pitch, they sensed they had a chance. They went really front footed and aggressive, but we adapted really well in the first half.
“In the second half, the early goal just completely kills the flow and then they really came out more aggressive. Credit to them – I thought they were great today, and they will feel really unlucky not to win the game today, never mind a point. We gave them way too many chances. Credit where it’s due to them, but we found a way, so I have to be pleased with that and proud of the players for that. It’s now our job to make sure we’re not feeling we’ve got away with it again.”
Martin was also happy to praise the efforts of his substitutes, which saw 4 of them – Ben Gladwin, Cameron Jerome, Daniel Harvie and Charlie Brown – involved in the 2 goals that achieved the Dons’ victory late on. He also praised Brown, who scored his first goal since arriving from Chelsea in Janaury.
He said, “I speak all the time about needing everyone and the collective culture we’re trying to build here. The subs all made a huge impact, and 4 of them were in the last 2 goals. We needed that today. We needed the new energy and fresh legs on the pitch, and I’m really pleased at how they linked up.
“I’m really pleased Charlie won the game for us because he deserves that with how hard he’s worked since he’s come in. He’s really improved and takes things on board brilliantly. It also shows the strength in depth we’re now building and have, especially at the top end of the pitch.”
While a triple sub that introduced Harvie and Brown was planned before Northampton’s third goal, the trio were introduced in its aftermath and Martin praised the way that his players were able to adapt in the wake of the third Northampton goal to overcome the challenge.
He said, “The players have to take all the credit for that to dig in and carry on going in a tough situation on a really tough afternoon for us. Northampton were great, so for the players to dig in and do that and for the players who came on to have an impact to help the other guys out is what we need. We’re going to need that moving forward and to show that resilience again in different circumstances.
“Over the last 10 games or whatever, they’ve shown a bit of everything and I think they’ve shown how far they’ve come as a group. They have to continue to do that. We have to be relentless in our demands for them to keep growing and improving personally and as a group, and we’ll keep on with that and hopefully we’ll keep on winning football matches.”
The result was enough to push the Dons into League One’s top half, but Martin insisted his focus remains on getting his team to push on and pick up more points.
He said, “I’m pleased for the players and we just have to keep driving on now. My feeling on what we need to do and where we need to go as a group and work we need to put in doesn’t change depending on league position, so its full steam ahead going into a big week for us with 3 games. We’ll analyse this one then prepare to perform for the next one and see where it takes us.
“At the end of the season, we’ll talk about our league position, and I’ll promise I’ll have looked at it by then! We’ll see where we’re at then.”