MK Dons manager Paul Tisdale was delighted as his side squeezed out Mansfield in the promotion six pointer to take a spot in League One.
The Dons boss saw his side score early and then defend all the way to see off their rivals and win promotion.
Speaking to the media after the game, he voiced his delight at the turnaround from a poor result in Colchester the previous week to defend for over 90 minutes and see off the away side’s challenge.
He said, “It was a long, long afternoon – long week. Heck of a long week. I was walking off the pitch last week at Colchester at 10 to 5 planning on what I would say to the players in relation in this game. We scored so early, and we would’ve loved a second, of course, but to hold on to a 1-0 for 90 minutes plus six minutes added is a long time.
“But we got there and I am absolutely delighted. In my own way, I’m relieved as much not to have to go to the play-offs and I’m looking forward to a holiday for once! I absolutely loved seeing stadium mk packed with 20,000 people.
Tisdale also heaped praise on his players for getting the job done so quickly after their drop. He added, “I’m just so proud of my players. To bounce back from a relegation with everything so unsettled and challenging, I love them to death and I’m so pleased for them.”
This game saw the Dons revert to the 3 at the back system they had deployed for most of the season after injury problems. Tisdale praised the efforts of his returning centre-halves Joe Walsh and George Williams as they returned, along with the impact of January signing Russell Martin.
He said, “Its been no secret we’ve played the last 13 games without 3 centre backs, which was our plan all year and did right up until January-February time. It was great to have them in place – it was like the cavalry returning. It was great to have Walsh and Williams in there alongside probably my signing of the season in Russell Martin.
“There’s experience, know-how, and doing the right thing over and over and over again. Thanks to Russell, and thanks to all the players. It won’t happen unless they listen. They have to trust me but they’ve been receptive. It was all about finishing at least third and they did.”
Last season, the last Dons home game of the season saw relegation to League Two confirmed, and Tisdale revealed he encouraged the players to stay and try to amend the situation, and was happy they were able to do so.
He said, “Its something I tried to harness at the start to say that you’ve had an awful year or two ended in relegation, but give something back in some kind of redemption, and not to just run away.
“People like Kieran Agard and Chuks Aneke, who played so hard today, easily could’ve left, but they’ve stayed and got the job done, and to all of them, thank you very much.”
Tisdale also heaped praise on his backroom team Matt Oakley, Mel Gwinnett and Danny Butterfield, who followed him from Devon to Milton Keynes, and who he could be seen in conversation with at multiple moments in the match.
He said, “We spend most of our time together – we really do!
“You need to know all your thinking – you can’t guess. We consider so much and its the way we do it so a heck of a lot of thought goes into doing nothing sometimes. I have to thank them. They’ve followed me here and all committed, and the team behind the team have been brilliant.”