Mark Robinson praised the resilience of his side’s defending tonight and the quality of Jack Rudoni’s last-gasp winner.
The Dons had to dig deep to repel Gillingham's direct football, before 19-year-old academy product Rudoni struck a stunning winner.
“We had talked to the lads about elite behaviours and they exist in environments where people can look around and trust each other," said Robbo. "You saw that tonight. In the first-half we were good, we could possibly have had more of a threat, but we had chances. In the second-half the players needed to be able to look around and trust each other because they were throwing everything at us during a 15-20 minutes spell. The key to winning the game was coming through that 20 minutes, that’s what I said to the lads. The rest of it I expect because they are quite clear about where they want to go. We could have been better on the ball during that spell and it would have taken the pressure off us if we had been brave enough to play, so that’s something we need to work on, but in terms of how we put our bodies on the line and defended, we were fantastic."
Robbo added that the quality of Rudoni's winning strike was not a surprise to him.
"I'm just chuffed for Rudi because we know he is capable of a goal like that. I think he's disappointed that he's not on six or seven already because he has missed easier chances, as we know. I kept saying to him 'it will come' because he's a great technician. I am sure there will be many more to come."
Our Head Coach said that he changed his starting line-up today to cope with Gillingham's directness - and there was no way he was bringing off Ben Heneghan after 70 minutes.
“I had to have conversations with players and they were upset to be left out, but I saw this game differently. That was the reason behind the selection with DJ going in at right-back and Ben being back in the middle. On this occasion it proved right. We knew that they throw it in from anywhere and that they are big on set pieces. They also score early a lot in the first 15 minutes.
“Chris McConnell (Sports Scientist) only wanted Ben to do 70 minutes, but that time came up and I looked at Chris and said ‘he’s not coming off!’ I checked he was okay as we know we have to look after him because it was his first 90 minutes. He was crucial in there, as was Will and all of them. I thought the back four were fantastic."
Pic: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.