Thornton: Dons need to focus for 80 minutes

Gary Thornton
Gary Thornton

Dons boss Gary Thornton was relieved to get back to winning ways in last weekend's League One clash at Coventry Bears.

But, not for the first time this season, he accused some of his players of 'clocking off' during the game.

“We got away with it on Saturday but against a better side than Coventry – and I don’t want to sound disrespectful because they played well - we might have got punished more than we did,” said Thornton.

“Whether some of the players thought it was going to be easy I don’t know, but I certainly knew it wouldn’t be after reviewing their game against (second-placed) Keighley the week before. They have got some good players and are definitely improving.

“As I say, I was disappointed with some elements of our performance but there were other elements I was quite pleased with.

“There is definitely room for improvement but we were lacking some important players in the forwards and had to play people out of position which doesn’t help.”

The Dons face another of the new teams, Oxford, on Sunday.

They will check in at the Keepmoat Stadium propping up the table after losing all eight league games.

“I have to admit that I feel a bit sorry for clubs like Oxford,” said Thornton.

“I’m not sure that the expansion of the game (to new areas) is working.

“The idea of expansion is surely that teams such as Oxford, Coventry and Hemel and the rest have locally-based players but that isn’t happening and most of the new teams are packed with dual-reg or northern-based players, so it is very difficult for them.

“I think the biggest impact is the lack of preparation time because the lads living in the north won’t go down to their respective clubs three times a week to train as our players do.

“They also have a high turnover of players and some just turn up on a match day and play which is hardly ideal.

“For expansion to be judged a success, in my opinion, development clubs have to attract more players, 70-75 per cent from their local areas, whether that be league or union players.”