Russell Martin has called on his players to learn lessons from the defeat to Lincoln City so that a loss like Tuesday's doesn’t occur again.
Four goals in 26 second-half minutes saw MK Dons beaten 4-0 at the LNER Stadium – that after a first 45 in which Martin’s men dominated possession against the play-off hopeful Imps.
Disappointed with the way in which his side failed to recover from falling behind, Martin wants his squad to be stronger for the experience and ensure they don’t find themselves suffering a similar fate next term.
“We have to learn from it,” the Dons boss said in his post-match press conference.
“We're not fighting to get promoted like they are or fighting to stay in the league but we are fighting to improve and we're fighting to make people better, to learn and to make sure things like this don’t happen next season.
“We've made huge strides this season so I won't come out here and be really angry at the players. I won't get caught up in emotion about a 15-minute period in a game.”
Martin continued: “I'm not convinced it was a 4-0 game when the full game is taken into account - it was a strange one to sum up.
“There was some brilliant stuff in the first half. After speaking to one of our former players, they felt like they couldn't get the ball. We were the better side but we didn't look like scoring - we just didn't go that extra yard to put them under pressure.
“When we play this way, there will always be mistakes but we made too many mistakes in the second half and they pounced on them. Lincoln are really good at counter-attacking - when they win the ball they spring back with so much energy and we couldn't deal with it.
“We couldn't cope with making mistakes and we lost our way. For 15 minutes in that second half, that wasn't us and that's hurtful. The mentality wasn't right for that period – there was so much anxiety after that first goal which has never happened before.
“It's a learning process. We just have to make sure we learn from it and make sure it never happens again.”
A key moment in the match came on 21 minutes when Brennan Johnson escaped a second booking for a late tackle on Ethan Laird, just moments after receiving a caution for kicking the ball away.
Referee Bobby Madley decided not to dismiss the Nottingham Forest loanee, who went on to score the 11-minute hat-trick which put the game out of the Dons’ reach before Andrew Fisher’s late own goal.
“Of course, it would have impacted the game but I'm not going to blame the referee,” Martin said on the decision.
“If he hadn't just been booked before that, he would have been booked but referees make mistakes, as players make mistakes and managers make mistakes. It is what it is – it was good to see (Bobby) back after a tough period in his life.
“It has impacted the game but, ultimately, we still had a long time after that to try and win it the game. We were undone by a 15-minute spell, not the referee.”
Russell Martin's MK Dons will look to bounce back on Saturday when they take on Portsmouth at Stadium MK.
Due to the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions, the fixture will take place behind closed doors but fans can still ensure they don't miss a minute of the action thanks to iFollow MK Dons.
Season Ticket holders will be able to watch the match for FREE. You will simply need to log-in to your iFollow MK Dons to view the game - click HERE for full information!
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