Martin delighted after three wins in a week
Burton Albion 1-2 MK Dons
Russell Martin spoke of his pride after Dons' turnaround week which saw them reverse a five-game winless run with three wins on the spin.
Seeing off Accrington Stanley and Plymouth Argyle at Stadium MK on Saturday and Tuesday respectively, Dons ended in-form Burton's seven-game unbeaten run with a hard-fought 2-1 win at the Pirelli Stadium, thanks to goals from Scott Fraser and Warren O'Hora.
It's a run which has seen them now move 17 points clear of the relegation zone with nine games remaining, and just five from an unlikely play-off spot.
"I cannot praise them enough for the week they've had," said Martin. "The mentality they've shown, the intensity, and the detail. I'm so proud of them.
"The best teams in the world have scary moments. We've got a long way to go, but today felt different to when we've had to defend late in games. The determination, the conviction to want to do it. And when they had to deliver it, they did.
"At 2-0, I felt the game was going to open up for us, Burton looked leggy but then the penalty gave them energy, and their body language changed. It made life more difficult for us.
"But game-on-game, we've improved so much since the Blackpool game. We're striving for something hard to attain."
His side looked in total control at 2-0 up when O'Hora headed in on 61 minutes, but Ethan Laird's foul on Tom Hamer with 15 minutes to go made for a nervy finale as Lucas Akins fired in from the spot for the Brewers.
Despite being under siege from some big balls pumped forwards, Dons' defensive resolution saw them safely home in the end, but it should have been far calmer for Martin in the dugout.
He continued: "For 70-odd minutes, until we gave away he penalty, it was an outstanding performance. There weren't a lot of chances but a lot of control against a tough, direct and aggressive team to play. Some of the play was great to watch and the players really enjoyed it – you could see that.
"But the game went away from us when we conceded, and you can understand that. They got renewed energy and were going all out to equalise. We had to show a different side, away from home, on a much tighter pitch and we had to dig in. Fish only had to make one save really, the defending was great and they were snatching at things.
"When you play a team who throw the ball into the box whenever they;re in our half, percentages say one of those second balls will fall to them, but when it did, we threw bodies on the line.
"We don't want games to turn like that. At 2-0, it should have been comfortable but we gave away a penalty and had to defend, but we did it brilliantly."