Baldock believes in Dons' date with destiny

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MK Dons striker Sam Baldock capped an impressive playoff semi final first leg performance with a well-taken free kick which put the Dons 2-1 up against Peterborough at stadium:mk.

And with the tie firmly poised at 3-2 in Karl Robinson's side's favour at the final whistle, the Dons take a slight advantage into tonight's second leg encounter at London Road.

As the Dons' leading marksman this campaign, Baldock is relishing the task of seeing his side through to the final at Old Trafford in ten days' time, at a ground that has seen more goals than any other in the country this year.

With that in mind, the Dons will either have to do what no other side bar Brighton has managed to, and shut-out a free-scoring Posh side, or alternatively amass at least a goal themselves to keep their promotion dream alive.

GiveMeFootball caught up with Sam Baldock ahead of tonight's anticipated goal-glut, in an exclusive interview.

Q: Congratulations on last Sunday's victory. How do you reflect on the first leg?

A: I think we dominated the game all over the pitch. We are unfortunate to only be one goal to the good, but the job is only half done.

We were a little bit disappointed by the late goal but we've got the confidence in that we were better than Peterborough, and hopefully we can be better on Thursday as well.

Q: What is your verdict on the late penalty and sending off that got Peterborough back into the game?

A: It wasn't a red card and definitely not a penalty. I think there was slight contact but it was outside the box, and even then the player has still got a lot to do. There were players covering and it was by no means a clear goalscoring opportunity, so not a sending off for me.

Q: It must have been nice for you to get on the score sheet. Was the free kick something that had been practiced in training?

A: The day before the game, at the end of training the gaffer told me to go in goal to try and save a free kick to see how much the ball moves. I got an idea from that, and that is what made me strike the ball on Sunday.

Q: How is the mood in the camp ahead of the second leg?

A: We are confident. We were confident before the first leg so I think if anything this has given us a little bit more belief to go on and reach the final at Old Trafford. We just want to get going now.

Q: How do you prepare for these play-off fixtures with such a quick turnaround in games?

A: You have to be careful because we've obviously had a full season behind us. We've taken days off when we needed to, and had recovery days.

But in the main we've gone about it the same way as we have throughout the season because it's been working for us so we haven't felt the need to change.

We're a fit squad here. The fitness coach has got us really fit with a lot of emphasis on working hard off the ball so we are confident going into Thursday's game.

Q: How will you approach the game with a slight (one goal) advantage?

A: We don't change our approach for anyone. We believe in playing football the right way. We pass and move and are confident on the ball, home or away against anyone.

Q: The Dons' approach to 'pass-and-move' – is that something instilled by the manager Karl Robinson?

A: He gives us a lot of freedom and lets us express ourselves. He accepts the fact we are going to make some mistakes along the way but alongside John Gorman we try and learn from them.

Q: London Road has seen more goals than any other ground this season, and in Peterborough you face the top scorers in the entire country. That would suggest that you may need at least one goal to ensure progression?

A: We feel like we have the defensive capabilities to keep them out to be honest, and we obviously have the attacking players to score like we showed in the first leg.

We know what threat they can cause, and that they can come at us quickly but we're going to be prepared for it. Hopefully we can ride the storm and get a couple of our own.

Q: And finally, with the play-off final at Old Trafford this season. Assuming you get there, does it take the gloss off the occasion at all?

A: We've not really thought about it, we are just focused on this one game and will deal with that if and when it comes around.

Hopefully it does and obviously Old Trafford is a great place to play football. We feel when we click we can beat anybody and fingers crossed we'll get the chance to prove that in the final.

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Milton Keynes Dons
League One
Sam Baldock

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