The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Brind­ley

KARL ROBIN­SON vowed to treat achieve­ment and dis­ap­point­ment in the same fash­ion as MK Dons were dealt an early-sea­son re­al­ity check by Pre­ston.

His side have en­joyed a high media pro­file af­ter their 4-1 open­ing-day thump­ing of Rother­ham but were brought down to earth by Paul Gal­lagher’s 28th-minute win­ner and a re­silient Pre­ston dis­play.

“Ex­pec­ta­tions? What ex­pec­ta­tions? They cer­tainly don’t come from me,” said Robin­son, whose side failed to take ad­van­tage of Jor­dan Hugill’s red card late on for a clash with Kyle McFadzean.

“My wife says I’m a mis­er­able so and so, so I was never go­ing to get too ex­cited by a win at Rother­ham.

“A lot of peo­ple say we are go­ing to fin­ish 24th in the league and that will drive us for­ward ev­ery sin­gle day of the sea­son.

“We didn’t do enough to win – but we cer­tainly didn’t de­serve to lose.We were much bet­ter in the first half and our pa­tience in keep­ing in the game was out­stand­ing at times.

“I don’t think our goal­keeper had another ef­fort to save.Their goal­keeper hasn’t had too many shots but I thought the way he com­manded his area was out­stand­ing when we threw balls into the box.”

MK Dons dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion in the first half although the bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties came from Pre­ston’s slick counter-at­tacks.

The home side were close to a fifth­minute lead when striker Sam Gal­lagher twisted on the edge of the six-yard box only to send his an­gled shot just wide.

Pre­ston goal­keeper Jor­dan Pick­ford kept his side on level terms in the 19th minute when Carl Baker hurled him­self at a Dean Lew­ing­ton cross and saw his header clawed to safety. Baker was on tar­get again within a minute af­ter a twist­ing run although Pick­ford’s save at his near post was more rou­tine.

Daniel John­son flashed a left-foot shot just wide in re­ply af­ter a first-time ball from Gal­lagher.

A sim­i­larly slick break then saw Pre­ston take the lead. Joe Garner’s for­ag­ing run down the right led to a clever pass in­side the box for Gal­lagher who ex­pertly gave him­self time to wrong-foot David Martin with a side­footed fin­ish.

John­son was again within a cou­ple of feet of scor­ing with an al­most iden­ti­cal left-footed shot af­ter Will Keane switched play in the 33rd minute be­fore Tom Clarke’s cel­e­bra­tions were cut short due to a push as Dons de­fended a Gal­lagher cor­ner.

Far from sit­ting on their lead, Pre­ston dom­i­nated large pe­ri­ods of the sec­ond pe­riod.

Garner sent a pow­er­ful header just over the bar and Keane dragged a shot dis­ap­point­ingly wide af­ter an in­stant ball for­ward from Gal­lagher.

MK Dons were kept at arm’s length but were given new hope by Jor­dan Hugill’s mo­ment of mad­ness on 82 min­utes – the de­fender sent off for a stamp on de­fender Kyle McFadzean mo­ments af­ter com­ing on as a sub­sti­tute.

De­spite piling on the pres­sure dur­ing six min­utes of added time, how­ever, they failed to test the dom­i­nant Pick­ford.

“We were well or­gan­ised and counter at­tacked well – I thought we could have had a cou­ple more goals in the first half, but the send­ing off made it more dif­fi­cult for us at the end,” said Si­mon Grayson.

“It’s a bla­tant red card. Hugill didn’t need to do it and he’s dis­traught with him­self as he let the rest of the play­ers down. I’m a bit calmer than I would have been be­cause we’ve won the game but we pride our­selves on work­ing hard as a team.”

PIC­TURES: TFLP Pho­tog­ra­pher

CLIN­I­CAL: Paul Gal­lagher scores and inset cel­e­brates his goal

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