Mark Robinson thought his AFC Wimbledon side “struggled” against elements of Sutton United’s physicality in their 1-0 EFL Trophy loss on Tuesday night.
The Dons were knocked out of the competition on goal difference, with Portsmouth’s 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace’s U21s seeing Robinson’s side slip to third in Group J.
Two defeats on the bounce after a 5-3 win against League One rivals Portsmouth saw the South Londoners fail to progress from the group.
Robinson made five changes from Saturday’s FA Cup first-round win against Guiseley with Jack Currie, Huseyin Biler, Darius Charles, Ethan Chislett and Aaron Cosgrave coming in for Ben Heneghan, Dan Csoka, Alex Woodyard, Ayoub Assal and Ollie Palmer.
“Without making excuses, we’re thin on the ground,” Robinson told the South London Press. “We have four lads out on international duty, we have got four out injured, and Alex Woodyard and Ben Heneghan have niggles, so I couldn’t afford to risk them.
“When you’re talking about our side, you can’t really say that we tried to go older because we’re either young or younger, but we tried to put in a few more senior younger players to give Sutton a tougher game.
“We were playing full-backs at centre-back just to try and be as competitive as we could, and there were some good moments, but Sutton are very good at what they do – they’re a strong, physical side, and we struggled against elements of that.
“There were positives in some of the performances. Jack Currie, coming back from his loan, did well. In his first game in 10 weeks, Huseyin Biler was only meant to do 45 minutes, but we had to keep him on for 90 because Cheye Alexander got injured. Under the circumstances, there were some positives.”
Reflecting on the defeat, Robinson, who wanted to go as far as possible in the competition with a place at Wembley at stake in the final, added: “We just want to go into every game wanting to win.
“I don’t really care what competition it is – you just want to have a mindset as a club that you want to go far in everything that you do. In that respect, it’s disappointing.”
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