Smith sparks Dons fightback against Pompey

Alan Smith, right, and MK Dons manager Karl Robinson
Alan Smith, right, and MK Dons manager Karl Robinson
Jack Whatmough. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Karl Robinson admitted his team delivered a first-half horror show which left him shaking against Pompey.

MK Dons were ripped apart early on by Michael Appleton’s side and found themselves two goals down in 20 minutes.

It could easily have been worse, too, with Brian Howard missing a penalty and the Blues carving out a host of other chances.

The home side pulled it back to claim a point but Robinson explained he was left fuming by what he saw.

Robinson said: ‘We started horrifically.

‘We spoke before the game about our defence not being so offensive because we knew they would want to run in between us and that’s the disappointing thing – the penalty and the chances came from them doing that.

‘I was shaking at half-time I was so emotional, I had to get away.

‘I’m not ashamed to say it affects me because I care for this football club and I care for the players and I know they are better than that.

‘Mick (Harford) had a go at them, so all I said was to show me how much the badge and the team means to them.

‘All I ask for is for the players to play with their heart.

‘We’re not always going to get it right tactically and it wasn’t one of our most fluent performances.

‘But when things are not going your way you need to look at your badge and the person next to you and it has got to mean something.’

The early introduction of Alan Smith helped MK Dons regain control as Robinson withdrew defender Jon Otsemobor after just 33 minutes.

The veteran used all of his nous to help hold up the ball and get his side back into the game.

Robinson said: ‘Bringing Smithy on changed the game.

‘Him as a person changed it by giving us that desire.

‘We had a decision to make after the second goal and I wasn’t sure whether or not it was too early to make a change but I had to just do it.’