Berks & Bucks Cup management duo Paul Heald and Alan Smith praised the attitude of the youth and first team players who beat Hungerford Town on Tuesday night.
A mix of first teamers, such as Tom Flanagan, Ben Reeves, Daniel Powell, George Baldock and Jason Banton, started the match alongside a number of Academy players. An own goal from the hosts and a header from Flanagan sealed a 2-1 win for the Dons and helped them progress into the Quarter Finals of the competition.
Goalkeeping coach Heald and striker Smith took charge of the Dons for the night while Karl Robinson and Gary Waddock watched on from the stands. While their performance was solid throughout, it was the work ethic which pleased the pair the most.
Speaking to mkdons.com after the match Heald said: “It was a hard game but I thought we played well, at times we could have passed it better and had a bit more composure on the ball. On the whole I thought we did well especially at the end when they put the big players on and they kept putting the ball in our box I thought we defended well and the young lads did well throughout.
“We told them to go out, work hard and show people what they have got. We can deal with the odd pass going astray and things like that but the work ethic is something we expect them to have week in, week out on the training pitch and in games.
“It’s not an easy place to come, the tackles were flying in but our lads kept their composure, kept trying to do the right things, played the right way and I thought we could have, perhaps, been a few more goals up. Unfortunately we didn’t get those goals and we had to defend well in the second half, which I thought we did and all credit to the lads for working hard and grinding out the result.”
Smith, who took a similar role in the competition last season, echoed his thoughts adding: “I thought the application of the senior players who played was a credit to the Club and the same with the young lads who had to hold the fort at the end. Hungerford were a physical side and a difficult team to play, it’s a big game for them.
“it’s easy some times to think you can go half-hearted with these games but every single one of them put the effort in and it was great to see, I think they all showed tremendous respect for one another as team-mates and they all did themselves proud today.
“This wouldn’t have been an easy game for Jason Banton either, he’s come on loan from a Premier League team and he showed a great attitude tonight, which was one of the most pleasing aspects for me.
The other pleasing aspect of the evening was seeing Daniel Powell continue his return from injury with his first start of the season and the appearance of goal scorer Flanagan who, after a short stint on the sideline with injury, has been unable to force his way into Karl Robinson’s side but could be called on this week at Gillingham.
Smith added: “Tom scored a great second goal for us, he did very well and I’m sure he will be in contention for Saturday especially now that we have lost Antony Kay for a prolonged period of time. Tom’s minutes that he got tonight were massively important, as were Powelly’s. It’s nice to have Powelly back, he got a freak injury in training and I think we have missed him.
“I enjoyed it. The only thing we asked for from the lads was that they approached it the right way and they did that. There were people here watching tonight not concerned with how they played, but the attitude they showed. There is no reason every player cannot give 100 percent effort and they did that tonight.”