‘PNE fan’ Robinson impressed with North End’s start to season

Dean Bowditch

Dean Bowditch

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Karl Robinson has been called a few things in his time as MK Dons manager and even found himself branded a Preston North End supporter at the end of last season!

Robinson saw his side pip PNE to automatic promotion in May, nine wins and two draws from their last 11 games seeing them leapfrog on the final day of the campaign.

The 34-year-old Scouser, who had a spell with Bamber Bridge as a player, was pleased to see North End shake off the disappointment of missing out on second place and go on to claim promotion via the play-offs.

There is a swift reunion in the Championship on Saturday for the former League One rivals, the sides meeting at stadium:mk.

Robinson said: “It’s a great game for us to have here.

“They’re a very traditional team who have been around for many years against arguably the most controversial and the youngest. We’re at both ends of the spectrum.

“One of the first text messages I got when we got promoted was from Peter Ridsdale.

“I got accused of being a Preston fan in the play-offs, but I felt they deserved to go up. And we’re both rightfully in the Championship.

“Preston were sensational on Sunday.

“Some people will say their 0-0 was better than our 4-1 because of the quality of the opposition.

“That’s not being disrespectful to Rotherham, but Middlesbrough are favourites to go up.

“ To deny them shows how well-drilled and organised they are.

“The two games that stood out last year were the Bristol City game and the Preston game here.

“They felt like a different level of game. And this time it is at a different level.

“We’ve had an awful lot of draws with each other.

“Preston had one defeat in 20 or something, and we were unbeaten in 10.

“We went toe-to-toe for such a long time and they deserved to go up.

“If the roles were reversed, I’m sure they would say the same. We’ve got a lot of respect for them.”

North End were the last team to beat MK Dons in a competitive game.

That came on March 7 when goals from Callum Robinson and Joe Garner gave them a 2-0 away victory.

At the time it looked like a decisive result in the promotion race, PNE staying in second place and putting a four-point gap between themselves and MK.

Robinson said: “ I remember coming into my office after the Preston result and being the lowest I’ve ever been.

“We’d had a run of poor results too.

“But we got better and better. We rode our luck at times, but where we both sit now is much healthier.

“Preston have grown in confidence and belief.

“Simon Grayson has a way of playing, he knows how to get results, but we need to negate that and make sure we are better than them in certain areas of the park.”

MK Dons caught the eye on the opening afternoon of the season, winning 4-1 away at Rotherham.

Rob Hall, Dean Bowditch, Carl Baker were on target with Rotherham’s Danny Collins putting through his own net.

Robinson said: “The fact we’re tipped to be the team going down is tremendous motivation for us.

“For the first day of the season it was an excellent result but with the win having come on August 8, we were not getting carried away.

“For six weeks we’ve been fighting tooth and nail to get to a level where we’re competitive.

“We didn’t to Rotherham just for a point and we made a statement of intent very early on. “I thought the players carried out the game plan and were very honest and hard-working.

“We were really humbled by the players’ performance and to have gone to Rotherham for our first ever game at this level of English football and to put in an assured performance was great.”

MK followed up the win at Rotherham with a 2-1 victory over Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup on Tiesday night. Robinson made 10 changes and they were far from convincing with Orient leading 1-0 going into the 90th minute.

But Baker levelled before O’s defender Mathieu Baudry put through his own goal.

“I couldn’t see us scoring but somehow we did,” said Robinson.

“The players showed a tremendous mentality to keep going.

“We weren’t good, we looked patchy but when you make 10 changes you’re going to get that.”