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Match Reports

Robbie's praise for spirited Dons

14 December 2016

Match Reports

Robbie's praise for spirited Dons

14 December 2016

Robbie Neilson was full of praise for his players’ spirit and heart, following MK Dons’ Emirates FA Cup success over Charlton Athletic.

After a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes, Tuesday’s Second Round replay was forced into extra-time and it was there where Neilson’s Dons shone, coming out on top courtesy of a stunning Ben Reeves strike and Dean Bowditch’s ninth goal of the campaign.

“I’m delighted again,” Neilson told MK Dons PlayerHD. “I thought the players, to a man, gave 100 percent.

“I said to them when they came in at the end of the 90 minutes, ‘this will define where we go as a team – are we going to dig out and get the result or are we going to crumble?’ They dug it out and that shows the spirit and the heart of the team.

“I thought in extra-time we had the quality and the fitness to come through. I think we’ve got a long way to go to get to where we really want to be but nights like tonight are only going to help.”

“All in all there were some good goals but the most pleasing thing was the work-rate and commitment.”

“(Ben has) got top quality and you know when it comes in that there's a good chance he’s going to score from it – I thought it was a phenomenal finish.

All three of the Dons’ goals were of real quality, with the pick of the bunch Reeves’ terrific 20-yard strike which left Addicks stopper Dillon Phillips with no chance as it sailed into the top left-hand corner.

“There were times when we passed it alright and there were times when we could have done a lot better. We were a bit direct at times when we should have passed it a little more and there has to be a balance between the two because you’ve got to have variety in your game.”

“These games are always tight. It’s the FA Cup and you don’t want to lose, so teams aren’t opening up – we were stifling each other so it took a little bit of spirit tonight.

“It was a really tough game on Saturday, not just physically but mentally for the players and generally when you play a big game like that, the next game is the hardest – we managed to lift ourselves and get the result.

It wasn’t just the mental side of the game that pleased Neilson but also the performance over the 120 minutes, especially given that it took place just four days after the tough Sky Bet League One clash with AFC Wimbledon.

“It’s a chance for us to put in a performance and try to progress.”

Neilson continued: “It’s great that we’re in the next round. It will be a tough game but it’s a great venue against a good team who are going really well.

“I think the players are buying into what we’re trying to do and hopefully tonight is another lift for everyone.”

“We try to play as well as we can, we want to dominate possession and be the best footballing team around but ultimately we want to football matches,” he said.

Performance and mental attitude aside, the thing that delighted Neilson the most was the victory – one which sets up a trip to Sky Bet Championship outfit Brighton & Hove Albion in the Third Round.

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