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Fixture News

Manning: We never give up

Head Coach Liam Manning reflects on his side's 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic...

14 March 2022

Liam Manning praised his side’s resilience and spirit after they came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Wigan Athletic.

In Saturday’s third versus second clash at Stadium MK, the Dons appeared to be heading for a first defeat in 11 games courtesy of Tom Naylor’s goal on the hour mark.

However, Harry Darling climbed highest from a Scott Twine corner to hammer home an 87th-minute leveller as the Dons, once again, earned points from a losing position.

“We've done it a few times this season so we know we're capable of it but I just love that this group never gives up,” Manning said in his post-match press conference.

“Wigan had a game plan to come here and stop us playing and when you've got a team as experienced, as physical and as well set-up as they are, it makes things difficult.

“There was some edginess in the first half. People maybe came here expecting to see a free-flowing game with lots of attacks and chances but the foundations for both teams is to be hard to beat.

“The referee's performance also made it very stop-start. The inconsistency made it hard to build any momentum.

“We looked better at the start of the second half. I was pleased with the first six or seven minutes - we went through them and we moved the ball quicker but then the momentum shifted and we got a bit sloppy and allowed them to play off our mistakes.”

Manning continued: “A point is probably fair given the chances created. We went into the game to win it, not to take a point, which speaks volumes about the belief in this group, but, overall, I'm pleased with a point.

“You can see the progress from the last time we played them, though. Although we won up there, we had to hang on in the second half and were up against it whereas today it felt like if there was a team to get another late on it would be us.”

Darling’s late goal was his eighth of the season and made it three straight games where the Dons have scored from a set-piece routine.

“Recently, he's looked a real threat and that's a credit to him and to Chris Hogg who has worked so hard on the (attacking) set pieces.

“We don't just sling it in there for him to head it - there's a lot more to it than that. We've now started to execute it and we're looking really dangerous from them.”

The Dons now have a full week until they are back in action and Manning hopes the momentum of the late leveller will keep them going through until their trip to Cambridge United.

“Momentum is important, not just for 90 minutes, but between games as well. (After a late goal) you go away and think a point isn't a bad thing – and it is a good point.

“It's been a tough run and this was another tough game so I'm delighted with how the players have responded this afternoon.

“We have eight games to go and we have to go into next Saturday's game with the same intensity and discipline to try and win it.”

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Liam Manning and MK Dons turn their attention to Saturday's Sky Bet League One clash with Cambridge United.

All 1,463 tickets have been snapped up by MK Dons fans, with no more available to buy between now and Saturday.

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