As Jason Shackell’s stoppage time header looped up in the air, the sense of deja vu was thick. This time last year, that header dropped in, and Lincoln City handed MK Dons their first defeat of the League Two season.
Fast forward though, Shackell’s header thumped the crossbar, and Dons had their revenge.
It was not the prettiest of performances, and Paul Tisdale even admitted Lincoln played the better football, but in his words “we got two goals and only conceded one.”
Both sides are new to Leauge One this season, but Lincoln’s start to life in the third tier saw them cruise to the top of the table, while Dons have been playing catch-up since the opening week - a bone of contention for Imps boss Danny Cowley in his post-match musings at Stadium MK.
But after two defeats to Lincoln last season as they romped to the League Two title at a cander, Dons’ win on Tuesday, and their gutsy defensive display to keep out the visitors in the final 20 minutes, was a sign of how far they have come on in the last 12 months.
Their trip to Sincil Bank last season was equally as action packed as it was on Tuesday night, with both sides going toe-to-toe for long periods. But the defeat there was a bone of contention for a long time for Tisdale.
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Lincoln though sought to turn the screw late on, leaving Dons hemmed into their defensive third for the end of the game.
And while Shackell’s header went in a year ago, this time it his the woodwork and bounced away as Dons picked up the win.
“We’ve gone up a division of course, but we’ve had a year of themes and working together,” said Tisdale.
“We were new into our tenure when we played Lincoln last year, and we could have won that game but we weren’t tough enough. We weren’t tough enough at the end, and we were tough enough today. Hopefully that will continue.
“You don’t always progress forwards and in an upward curve. You have dips and hollows, and peaks.
“We are trying to get our season going, but there are elements of our game which are the guts and determination that I’m more than happy with.
“They hit the bar with a looping header at the end, I’m not sure it was going in, but we defended particularly well.
“We hung on, we shows a lot of guts in the end, they had to break us down and they couldn’t do it.
“I’m delighted with the players. We’re going to need that endeavour, grit and determination and support going forwards.”