VOL­LEY GOOD JOE IS DONS’ HERO...

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Harry Wilmin

KARL Robin­son says his side’s abil­ity to play through thick and thin was the de­ci­sive fac­tor in MK Dons’ first vic­tory of 2016 – and in­sisted he can’t take any of the credit for him­self.

Joe Walsh scored his first goal for the Dons since his sum­mer move from Craw­ley in what was an ex­tremely tight af­fair to ex­tend Read­ing’s win­less run to three games un­der new boss Brian McDer­mott.

But Robin­son, whose side were com­ing off the back of a 5-0 drub­bing at home to Burn­ley on Tues­day, praised his play­ers’ men­tal­ity for the way in which they re­sponded to re­cent re­sults.

“It’s not down to me at all, I’m just a very small cog in the de­vel­op­ment in this foot­ball club and it’s down to the play­ers and the fans,” he said.

“We’ve got a men­tal­ity here in that we stick to­gether through thick and thin and it’s about de­vel­op­ing that here at the club.

“I think col­lec­tively as a group we looked strong. We didn’t make any er­rors and we went and nicked it at the end. The heart in the play­ers is sen­sa­tional, es­pe­cially on the back of the 5-0 loss on Tues­day night. That wasn’t the same team that was beaten 5-0 here on Tues­day, we looked re­ally con­fi­dent out there.”

The vis­i­tors started the game brightly and be­gan ad­vanc­ing in the fi­nal third through winger Garath McCleary, who had the pace and power to beat Dons cap­tain Dean Lew­ing­ton with ease on the right wing, but he couldn’t quite find the right fi­nal ball.

The home side re­sponded well though, as Nicky May­nard out­mus­cled An­ton Fer­di­nand to meet Rob Hall’s cross from the right with an acute header to­wards goal, but keeper Ali AlHabsi was equal to it.

McCleary was de­nied an opener for the Roy­als in the 20th minute as Oliver Nor­wood burst for­ward be­fore float­ing in a deep cross into the Dons’ box, which keeper David Martin failed to deal with as it fell to the feet of McCleary whose ef­fort on goal was su­perbly blocked by Lew­ing­ton.

And Read­ing should have taken the lead five min­utes be­fore the break as McCleary burst for­ward from a Dons at­tack, eased past the fi­nal two MK de­fend­ers be­fore lay­ing off to Matej Vy­dra in the six-yard box whose ef­fort from close-range some­how rolled wide.

The vis­i­tors felt ag­grieved mid­way through the se­cond-half when Vy­dra was sent through on goal be­fore Kyle McFadzean’s clumsy last-ditch chal­lenge brought the for­mer Wat­ford man down. McFadzean was given a yel­low.

And as both sides looked happy to come away with a point, the Dons took the lead through a su­perb vol­ley from de­fender Walsh as the game ap­proached the fi­nal ten min­utes.

Rob Hall’s fizzing cor­ner was only half-cleared by the vis­i­tors’ de­fence. As the ball bounced mid-air be­tween chal­lenges, Walsh popped up in­side the six-yard box to smash the ball home on the vol­ley.

“I couldn’t see us los­ing that game for one minute,” said Roy­als boss McDer­mott.“I thought we were go­ing to go on and win it if I’m hon­est – we were the bet­ter team.

“But we got done by a set-play which is what hap­pened to us at Wolves and it’s some­thing I re­ally need to sort out as the man­ager. We have to start find­ing the con­sis­tency from within us and make sure that we get the right re­sults.

“We know how to get re­sults but we ob­vi­ously didn’t show that.

“But their goal­keeper did play well and he had to re­ally, oth­er­wise we would be com­ing out of the game with the three points in­stead.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

AC­RO­BATIC: Joe Walsh scores the win­ner and, in­set, Josh Mur­phy bat­tles for the Dons

STAR MAN GARETH McCLEARY

Read­ing

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