NEGATIVE VALE RILE ROBINSON
MK DONS are guaranteed at least a play-off place after their draw at Port Vale, but manager Karl Robinson admitted his side had wasted an opportunity to close the gap on secondplaced Preston.
The form of the two sides could not have been more different coming into this game, with the high-flying Dons having won four on the bounce, while Vale’s sixgame losing run left them just two points above the bottom four.
Yet it was the hosts who had the better of a thoroughly forgettable contest at a blustery Vale Park, with Robinson’s top-scoring Dons failing to register a shot at goal until six minutes from time.
The only incident of note in the first half came when Darren Potter conceded a foul on the edge of his own box, with Rob Page’s men arguing that the Dons skipper should have been sent off.
Robinson’s side continued to struggle after the break, with Vale looking increasingly lively. Substi- tute Mohamed Coulibaly went close with a firmly struck effort 20 minutes from time, and the impressive Mark Marshall set both Michael Brown and Ben Williamson up in good positions.
Marshall came agonisingly close to winning the match in the dying seconds. Michael O’Connor broke down the right and fizzed a low ball across the six yard box for the former Coventry winger, but the resulting goalmouth scramble was cleared by Lee Hodson.
“Obviously, because of how well we’ve played so far this season, and of our form of late, you’ve got to look at it as a negative result,” Dons boss Robinson admitted.
Yet despite his side managing just one shot at goal all game, Robinson chose to place the emphasis on Vale’s tactics and a poor pitch.
“Listen, they set their stall out to break up the game,” Robinson added. “After one minute and 30 seconds, they were walking to take a corner.
“We know we haven’t performed well. We’ve just got to be the bigger men and say, ‘It’s a point when we’ve played poorly on a bad pitch, against a team who just tried to stop us doing what we do’.”
Vale boss Page admitted he was frustrated not to have won the game, but insisted that the result would be a turning point for his squad after six straight defeats.
“How that hasn’t gone in at the end I don’t know, so as much as we’re pleased with a clean sheet and a point, we’re disappointed we haven’t won the game,” Page reflected.
“But we’re really pleased that we’ve managed to get that losing run to end. It’s been a difficult time, not just for the supporters, who have rightly been frustrated.You know, we all feel it, the management and the players.”
“We’ll take the clean sheet and the point, and that’s a turning point for us.
“There’s a big buzz in that changing room at the minute. “We believe this is the turning point for us now, and we will be able to build momentum from this.”
HEADS UP: Ben Williamson sees his header ricochet away to safety off Dele Alli LETTING RIP: Rob Hall gets a shot in on goal for MK Dons