Two wins in a week have seen MK Dons go from eighth and outside of the play-off spots to fourth in League 2 with their eyes back on automatic promotion.
The 3-2 win over Carlisle on Saturday, their second win in a week, came as a huge relief to manager Paul Tisdale as his side backed up their workhorse victory in midweek against Newport at Rodney Parade.
Goals from Conor McGrandles, Jake Hesketh and Kieran Agard secured the points at Brunton Park in front of more than 10,000 fans, but vitally saw Dons seemingly end their horrid run and get their promotion push back on track again.
“Back-to-back wins in a week away from home is a big step forward for us,” said Paul Tisdale after the win in Cumbria. “In both games, we’ve adapted how we play to get the wins, so I’m really pleased. It has been a really good week.
“I think our minds are in a good place. If you think correctly, you act correctly, but that’s not to say they can’t win a penalty. I was disappointed about it but I generally felt we’d win. It was always going to be a game with twists and turns, I’ve been here too many times to know different!
It has turned things around. Even forgetting the league table, we feel better about ourselves. We have been able to change the way we play during a game. Previously, we’ve done the same things because we haven’t developed a new way yet, but we’re doing that now. We’re developing again. The players feel better I’m sure, and there’s competition for places right across the team. Hopefully, we can mount a serious last few months to the season.
“It was good to get some goals, and we managed to see out the last five minutes – thank goodness for that!”
Tied at 1-1 at half time after Stefan Scougall’s penalty just two minutes after McGrandles’ opener, Chuks Aneke’s influence on the second period, coming on at the break for Baily Cargill, cannot be understated. Not only did the formation change, but the striker was involved in both Dons’ goals as they took a 3-1 lead. Hallam Hope’s goal in the 90th minute threatened to make it a nervous finale, but the eager home supporters were sent home unhappy.
Tisdale added: “I wanted three attackers on in the right positions in that second half. We ended up with Chuks on, with Jake and Kieran so we still had the three up front and we had to change the style. Carlisle did really well for the first 20 minutes, they gave us problems. But the game here always opens up. Thankfully we had the sting in the tail this time.”