“Please just shoot!” was the order from Mark Robinson to Anthony Hartigan – and our young midfielder certainly responded to the call at Northampton!
Though the 21-year-old has surpassed a century of appearances for the Dons, goals had been few and far between – in stark contrast to his strike rate at youth level.
“I spoke to Anthony after Saturday’s game because I felt there were a couple of times when he could have let fly,” said Robbo. “It was one of the things that he was great at as a young player, so we’ve been talking to him about it. I said ‘I don’t really care where it goes, please just shoot!’ Thankfully, he has done it tonight, and he had a shot in the first-half. I know he’s got goals in him, so that’s pleasing. To be fair, I felt that Anthony’s performance was one of the pleasing things on the night, his performance was good on a night when the performances were nowhere near where they should have been."
On a team display at Sixfields Stadium that earned a place in the third round, Robbo said: “I realise that it’s great to get through and we’ve created a bit of history, but I was really disappointed with the performance – I felt that we were miles off it. I think it’s the worst we’ve been since I had the job. Physically and technically, it wasn’t good to watch at all.
“I’m pleased for the fans that we got through to the next round – I hope we get a great a draw – but in terms of where we want to go with this that was nowhere near where we need to be.
“We’ve got to have high standards. I know people say it’s a sign of a good side when you win after not playing well, but, for me, they had far too many good situations. We played a shape that worked really well at Charlton, and we got loads of things right, but we didn’t do that tonight. They were pressing us, and if that happens we need to move the ball quickly, and take responsibility. We didn’t do that.
“Technically, there were so many errors, and there was a lack of detail. We were constantly giving them momentum. We had a couple of passages of play and chances in the first-half, but in the second-half it got worse and physically we were not picking up enough second balls. When we did pick up second balls we were not finding our first pass. There was so much that was not right tonight.”
Robbo added that Ayoub Assal was rested for the match after playing a lot of football at this level since making his first-team breakthrough towards the end of last season.