Karl Robinson refused to get carried away with his side’s 1-0 win over Tranmere Rovers, but was keen to praise the midfield trio who made a difference at Prenton Park.
Goal scorer Stephen Gleeson and Darren Potter bossed the play in midfield, winning the battle to put Rovers on the back foot and allowing Luke Chadwick to produce another one of his excellent creative performances.
Chadwick’s imprint on proceedings even forced Rovers boss Ronnie Moore to ditch his trusted 4-4-2 formation at the interval and pack-out the midfield to prevent the Dons’ free-flowing football.
Speaking after his side’s fourth straight League victory, Robinson said: “I thought we looked tremendously fit today and strong, especially in midfield them two (Darren Potter and Stephen Gleeson) are a class act. Stephen’s been in a bit of a mood for the last two days – he’s been moaning about everything, his shooting and everything else but he can stay in a mood for the next six months if he puts in a performance like that.
“Stephen doesn’t like being singled out for praise, he wants to be one of many but I am proud of the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch; Darren Potter alongside him is as good as you’re going to get and Luke Chadwick, for someone to have done what he has in his career and still put in the effort and performances like that, I can’t ask for any more.”
Patience was the key for the Dons in the end – waiting until the 87th minute for Gleeson’s bundled effort to hit the back of the net – as their dominant first half performance went unrewarded and, for large parts of the second half, were often frustrate by Rovers.
Robinson added: “That is us every single week; we’ve not had the results our performances have deserved. There has been a swagger about us all season, obviously criticism in the media and outside influences has had a bit of a knock on certain people’s confidence but as a manager and a group of staff we kept believing in them and telling them what was wrong and what was right.
“We asked for a strong work ethic with the thought that if you work hard you will get the return and for three or four weeks they have certainly done that.
“Dave in goal and the back four were excellent, we limited their chances and they’re the top goalscorers in the League. We had 13 shots in the first half and 60 per cent possession at one time, we were by far the more dominant team against a Tranmere side that I respect immensely.
“When they made their change it meant we had more time at the back and the worry for me was that for 20 minutes Shauny and Antony Kay tried to force the play a little bit and hit too many long balls. That meant they stopped us from getting in the final third and we shouldn’t have rushed it as much as we did and once we got around that we were more patient with the ball going back to Dave and we were able to play out from the back.
“We knew that in Powelly and Bowds we had the pace to get in behind them and we had someone in Alan Smith who we could hit and play off. So we changed the way of the game for 25 minutes in the second half as well.”
The Dons boss did, however, admit that the result deflected from another game of missed chances for his side and while it is something the side are continuously working on improving, Robinson also believes 1-0 wins are worth their weight in goal.
“We have to make our jobs a little bit easier – especially for my heart and stress levels – but the beauty is people are popping up with goals and I will take 1-0 wins from now until the end of the season.
“That’s how Charlton went up last year, they won an awful lot of games 1-0 and Sheffield United propelled themselves up the table this year with a number of them too.”