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Barker: Concentration is key

1 March 2016

Richie Barker says the Dons need to perform for the full 90 minutes if they are to come away with positive results in the Sky Bet Championship.

The men from MK1 have largely put in strong displays throughout their inaugural campaign in the second tier, but the Dons’ Head of Coaching knows they need to hit a high-quality every match to pick up points.

"There are plenty of positives to focus on," he said. "We'll go over the things that cost us and we'll try to ensure those things are taken on-board."

Having more than matched Blackburn Rovers, the Dons were denied a point at the former Premier League champions on Saturday courtesy of an injury-time free-kick, to add to being pegged back late on against Middlesbrough and Huddersfield Town.

"It is a bit of luck sometimes, but a free kick bent in the 93rd minute is quality from the other side. Ideally, we could have done it six inches either side, or the free kick not being given.

"Some of our mistakes are getting punished, but there are times when you get away with it. Unfortunately, some of the things are resulting in goals. The games are so tight as well, so the odd goal is costing us.

"When I look back to when I was 20, I wasn't getting these things either, like picking up the second ball after set plays, or game management, the importance of running down the clock. Conceding late goals is sometimes down to naivety, and that's not just down to the young players. We're a fairly young squad, and some have to learn fairly quickly. We're learning the hard way at the moment.”

He added: "In the last half a dozen games, we'd have probably come away winning all of them last season. There's naivety at this level, but the quality at this level is higher too. Middlesbrough brought on Jordan Rhodes, Huddersfield scored through Nahki Wells and Jordi Gomez is a Premier League player really.

"With all due respect to the Crewes, Crawleys and Colchesters, we'd have got away with it last year. We may have been making the same mistakes, we just weren't getting punished.

"It's fine margins at this level. We're disappointed to be drawing at home to Middlesbrough, or losing to a 93rd minute free kick at Blackburn. It shows how hard this club has come. In the majority of games, we've been in it. We just need a little bit of luck coming our way.

"Last year, when we were three or four up late in the game, we probably made the same mistakes. But it shows the concentration levels that are needed. Even 2-0 up in this league, it only takes two shots. It can turn either way and it has done a few times, so we can't get too down about it."

Saturday’s clash with Queens Park Rangers signals the start of the final 12 games and Barker says the Dons are up for the fight.

He said: "In terms of points, we've been closer to the relegation zone, and we lost five in a row and were in a similar position with a run like this. We knew it would come again and we always knew it would go down to the wire. But I'd rather be where we are than where Bolton, Charlton or Rotherham are. We always knew we'd be where we are, we've worked hard to get here, and we'll continue to do that."

The Dons will look to bounce back on Saturday when they entertain QPR at stadiummk – fans can watch this match and four others for the total price of four with a Fab Five package, priced from £20 a game adults, £13.60 a game over-65s and £5.60 a game under-18s. 

hereTo purchase a Fab Five package visit the Box Office at stadiummk/kiosk at centre:mk or call 0333 200 5343. Individual game tickets can be bought .


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