MK Dons attacker David Wheeler was delighted to contribute as his side got over the line and won promotion from League 2.
The QPR loanee’s goal in the opening minutes was enough to see the Dons past promotion rivals Mansfield Town.
Speaking immediately after the game and associated ceremony, Wheeler was happy on a personal level to grab the game winner but was also delighted the team were able to contain Mansfield.
He said, “I gave celebrating it a good go but when you score that early, there’s bound to be other things in the game like other goals. I’m very lucky on a personal level that it was my goal but the work from the team for the rest of the game defensively, with the amount of headers won in the last 10 minutes, was incredible. Russell Martin was struggling with two injuries but was still out there with an incredible performance.”
Wheeler said the team did not feel the pressure associated with scoring early, adding that it encouraged the team to continue attacking in the opening period.
He said, “I don’t think it did – if anything we thought it was working so we just carried on. From a set-piece, they don’t really tend to be part of a game plan but when you score, you just carry on and we kept on troubling their back three.”
The attacker was substituted during the second half, and said he was much more aware of his nerves after being replaced.
He said, “When I was on the pitch, I was fine. When I came off and was sitting on the bench, it was horrible. Its always horrible watching. You’re on edge the whole time, but on the pitch, I was pretty confident. I don’t think we conceded many shots on our goal.”
As far as the second half went, Wheeler recounted how much of the nerves were as much down to the stakes of the occasion as they were regarding the game, adding he felt the team handled the threat of Mansfield well.
He said, “It was tense because of how much was on the game, although it wasn’t one where we clearing loads off the line. It was always going to be tense in that scenario but we did well to keep it to a minimum.”
When talking about the reaction on the moment promotion was achieved, Wheeler described it as a cocktail of delight and relief.
He said, “It was just total elation. I’ve been in situations before where we’ve escaped relegation and there was complete relief. There was a bit of relief here because its always nervy when its just 1-0 but its mainly just elated and being so happy.”
Wheeler arrived in January after his loan with Portsmouth was cut short, and he said he felt great to contribute goals towards the Dons’ promotion.
He said, “I’m really chuffed. I had a really hard time and not really played a lot. I had a good time with Pompey but didn’t really play so just having a run of games here has helped me with my performance and I feel I’ve shown what I’m capable of. I’m happy I could contribute to a promotion.”