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Russ: We were well in the tie until the final 15

MK Dons boss reflects on defeat in the Papa John's Trophy...

3 February 2021

Russell Martin doesn’t want a disappointing last quarter of an hour to influence his view on Tuesday’s performance against Sunderland.

Martin's men were knocked out of the Papa John’s Trophy at the Quarter-Final stage following a 3-0 defeat to the Black Cats at Stadium MK.

The three-goal deficit, though, was an unfair reflection of the display from a depleted Dons side, who were well in the tie until a poor goal 14 minutes from time saw momentum swing the way of the visitors.

“If you take away the last part of the game, when we have a lot of young players on the pitch, it will make you look at the game completely differently,” Martin said in his post-match press conference.

“For 70-odd minutes, I was pleased by the performance. They took the lead without even having a shot on target. After that, we responded well and bringing on Cameron Jerome and Ben Gladwin brought us right into the game.

"It felt like we were on top and they were rarely close to our goal, until we gave away the second goal. At 2-0, it was really difficult and the game was pretty much gone. We made subs to rest people for Saturday and after that we looked a bit of a mess.

“I'm pleased with some of the performances, not with some of the others, but I'm not heavily influenced by the last 15 minutes. We've had six shots, they've had six shots. We've had three on target, they have three on target.

“Neither team was at full strength, but they were much closer to theirs at the end by the end. We were weaker than we'd have liked and it showed in the last 10 minutes in particular."

He addd: "There will be a big difference on Saturday, no doubt about it.”

Tuesday’s result saw the Dons bow out of the competition just two wins shy of a trip to Wembley Stadium. While disappointed not to be progressing to the Last 4, Martin sees the positives in that his side can now concentrate solely on their league fortunes.

“I'd have loved to have gone through,” the manager said. “We've treated the competition seriously all the way through and it's a missed opportunity for us, which is disappointing.

“I’d have loved to still be in it but all our focus now is on the league and moving up the table as quickly as possible.”

One player who drew praise from Martin post-match was Louis Thompson, who impressed playing in an unorthodox position of centre-back.

“He did brilliantly,” Martin said of his midfielder. “We didn’t have anyone else to play there, but we knew he could do it.

“It's nice for us to have a fit and firing Louis Thompson back. He dominated (Joe) Piggott last Saturday and softened AFC Wimbledon up to allow Ben Gladwin to come on and do what he does on the ball.

“We know wherever he plays, he will a brilliant mentality. We just need to keep him fit because when he is he's powerful, strong, a great competitor and really calm on the ball for us too.”

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Russell Martin and MK Dons will look to bounce back on Saturday when they welcome Sunderland back to Stadium MK for a Sky Bet League One encounter. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Season Ticket holders will be able to watch the match for FREE on iFollow MK Dons. You will simply need to log-in to your iFollow MK Dons to view the game - click HERE for full information!

All other supporters will be able to enjoy the game by purchasing an iFollow MK Dons Video Match pass - to purchase a £10 Video Match Pass, click HERE and select Buy A Video Match Pass!


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