Keith Andrews believes the experience of Wednesday’s County Cup semi-final will be invaluable to the youngsters involved, while he also praised the senior players for their attitudes.
“It’s a great experience for the young players,” Andrews told mkdons.com. “With the first-team players we had out and when you wrap in the drama of going ahead, going behind, going to extra-time and then penalties - it’s an invaluable lesson for them.
“In terms of the senior lads, you’ve got to roll your sleeves up when you come to these places and show a bit of grit and determination – they did that. Lee Hodson, for example, was playing out of position at centre-half but he rolled up his sleeves and got on with it.”
He continued: “It’s a balancing act because while it is about progressing the younger players and giving the young pros and senior lads minutes, when we’re at the game, we want to win and we did everything we could to do that.
“We made a great start, going two goals up and we were playing some fantastic football in the right manner. Then we just seemed to take our foot off the gas, letting them back in by conceding two sloppy goals.
“We got back on it after that and I thought, for the majority of the game, that we were quite good.
“In extra-time, I was a little bit disappointed. I had a little bit of a pop at them at half-time in extra-time and for though for the last 15 minutes they were excellent. The reaction was superb to get back and we thoroughly deserved the draw in the end.”
Two players who were singled out for additional praise by Andrews were second-year scholars Connor Furlong and Andrew Osei-Bonsu, whose impact off the bench inspired the Dons to fight back in extra-time to earn the draw – the latter grabbing that late equaliser.
“The two lads who came on, Connor and Andrew, did really well and really made an impact on the game. Him and Connor were the catalysts for us to drive on in the final 15 minutes – they were outstanding.
“It was a super goal from Andrew. I’ve been trying to get him to push on more and get involved in attacks. He took his goal very well.”