April 27 2009
Roberto Di Matteo feels that the Dons' inconsistent home form has cost his side automatic promotion. Saturday's 0-1 defeat to Walsall was MK's seventh of the season at stadium:mk, and ended their hopes of catching second place Peterborough United.
The Dons have lost more times at home than any other side in the promotion or playoff spots, and an average home record, for a side in our positon, has hit our promotion hopes particularly since the turn of the year as our usually excellent away form has faded.
Speaking to BBC Three Counties Radio about the game, and about the end of the Dons' automatic promotion hopes, Roberto said:
Roberto: "I think our home form has cost us an automatic promotion place. We were never consistent enough at home, where you would have to pick up enough points to be promoted automatically."
Question: "Seven defeats here at stadium:mk, that's just not automatic promotion form."
R: "No. But the away form is automatic promotion form."
Q: "Two games left; is it a case of rallying the troops, trying to get two victories and going into the playoffs in good form?"
R: "Yeah, we're not in bad shape. Today wasn't a good performance at all, but I'm most concerned about the injuries we picked up today, because I would like to choose from a full squad."
Q: "Next is the Northampton game; you were unhappy with when it was anyway, now [after postponement] it's a real inconvenience in a way before the last game, and it gives you a disadvantage against the other teams."
R: "It's ridiculous that you play a game in hand in the last week of the season, when everything is decided. It's absolutely ridiculous."
Q: "Today's game; apart from a spell of 20 minutes when you've rained five or six shots on Clayton Ince, it never really got going."
R: "No, you're absolutely right. After we conceded the goal, we created a few chances, the 'keeper made some fine saves for Walsall, but before that we never really got going. It was a poor performance; the reaction [to conceding] was good, but it's not enough and it was too late."
Q: "There was some controversy with the goal; Aaron Wilbraham had a bit of an injury after a knock he received and Walsall went up the other end and scored; how do you feel about that?"
R: "I think we're getting used to those kind of decisions. I think to everybody it looked like a foul but the ref didn't give it and we conceded a goal."
Q: "Do you think the players maybe froze a little bit? Was knowing that they had to win to keep in the race [for automatic promotion] just too much?"
R: "I don't think so, we've won four out of our last five and we had the pressure on then as well and we knew then we had to keep winning to be able to have a chance."
Q: "You mentioned the injuries; Sean O'Hanlon went off early, and Stephen Gleeson didn't look good at the end. Obviously as ever, it's a bit early, but certainly with Gleeson, he looked in a lot of pain."
R: "Yeah, he's gone off to the hospital for an x-ray to see if there is a fracture or anything so we'll keep our fingers crossed that it's not too bad. Sean O'Hanlon got a knock on his knee so we'll have to see and hope that's not too bad either."
Q: "On a positive note, you had quite a strong bench today, with Peter Leven, Aaron Wilbraham, players like that who for most of the season have been some of the first names on the teamsheet. They both came on and hopefully played themselves into contention now."
R: "They were coming back from injury and have been out of action for two or three weeks, so it's good that they got back in today and played a part in the game. That gives them a chance to pick up their form and hopefully be in top form when we reach the playoffs."
Q: "Do you face a slightly difficult situation now where you don't want to pick up any more injuries in your last two games, but also you want to finish third and get a couple of wins before the playoffs? Do you rest players, or do you go full strength?"
R: "I'm very determined to go full strength with whatever we have."