Russell Martin bemoaned a lacklustre start following his side’s 2-0 defeat to Crewe Alexandra at Stadium MK.
The Dons were unable to extend their winning run to five games after Mikael Mandron struck twice inside the opening 21 minutes to establish a two-goal lead that Martin’s men were unable to overcome.
“We're really frustrated and disappointed with starting so poorly,” the manager said in his post-match press conference.
“We've been on a really good run, off the back of playing with intensity and detail, but we just didn't have that at the start. We looked like a team that hadn't played for 10 days – we were a bit rusty and we've paid for it.
“The energy, intensity and urgency were nowhere near the levels it has been recently. I can accept us making mistakes – we’ve got guys who haven't played a huge amount for us who are still working out the different adaptations – but we didn't react well enough to our mistakes.
“We had a warning sign early on with a free header which Fish (Andrew Fisher) has to save. Then they scored two goals which they didn't have to work hard enough for. We didn't concede a lot of chances after that.
“We created some brilliant chances in the second half that we should score three or four goals from. We looked quite threatening, and that’s a positive, but we haven't scored - you can't create that much and not score a goal.”
Monday’s defeat saw the Dons drop to 13th in the Sky Bet League One table and fall eight points adrift of the play-off places. With 17 points also separating them from the bottom four, some might suggest Martin’s side have little to play for over the final seven games – but that’s not the boss’ view.
“The journey has been so tough, to get to where we are now, just to let it drift away until the end of the season,” he said. “It's a big mental challenge to finish as strong as possible.
“It looks like we can't go down, and it looks like we won't get promoted but I do not want us to fall into the trap of thinking we can relax - every game matters for next season and we want to get as many points as possible.
“We're playing to prepare ourselves for next season and to make sure games like this don't happen. We've had too many of those this season, where we've come away from games and should have had more, or we’ve started poorly.
“If we're going to be serious about next season, we have to show we can bounce back quickly. We've got a chance to do that on Saturday, at a ground where they should all be looking forward to playing at.”
Russell Martin's MK Dons will look to bounce back this Saturday when they take on Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
Due to the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions, the game will take place behind-closed-doors but MK Dons fans will still be able to watch the action courtesy of iFollow MK Dons.
With an iFollow MK Dons Video Match pass, you will be able to watch Martin's side in action on your laptop, computer, tablet or mobile device! Want to watch on your tablet or mobile device? Download the new EFL iFollow App and watch on the go, wherever you are!
To purchase a £10 Video Match Pass, click HERE and select Buy A Video Match Pass. Then simply log in to your iFollow MK Dons account and follow the instructions or register for an account, which can be done for free.