Karl Robinson believes the final 10 minutes against Colchester United could prove to be a key moment in the season after his side returned to winning ways on Tuesday night.
Dele Alli scored the only goal of the game two minutes before half time in the narrow 1-0 victory, but with the clock ticking down, Colchester ramped up the pressure as Dons struggled to clear their lines.
But by holding out, Dons moved up into second place in League 1, and put behind them a run of two consecutive defeats.
“The last 10 minutes was as big a 10 minute period I’ll have to manage this season,” said Robinson afterwards. “We needed to play without fear, but a determination. We did it in the right way. We all deserve a pat on the back.
“We’re coming off the back of what everyone said was a bad period. I think we played better at Gillingham on Saturday when we lost.
“Colchester dominated in the second half. I had a go at my players in there, because we started to kick things long and made it a bit of a fight.
“There weren’t many chances today. It wasn’t nice or pretty.
“It has been a hard ask playing three times away in a row, so I’m really pleased to finish on the road with a win.
“It’s never a smooth ride. You get criticised all the time and we have to be big enough and broad enough to accept that. We get judged on results.
“People love you, hate you, then love you again. It’s like being married!”
Kyle McFadzean returned from suspension and went straight back into the centre of the defence, and immediately Dons looked more assured - a far cry from the side which conceded six in their previous two outings without him.
And there was a more assured performance from under-fire goalkeeper Ian McLoughlin. Making only his second appearance since August, the Irish stopper was criticised by Robinson for his part in three of Gillingham’s four goals on Saturday.
But Robinson felt McLoughlin’s performance was much better against Colchester, and was a sign of his character.
He said: “Ian knows he didn’t perform well. He knows he wasn’t good and could’ve stopped three of the goals.
“But his kicking was good here, and he looked more dominant in the air.
“He has responded really well with his performance today. He’s paid to make saves.”
George Williams, making his first start for MK Dons since joining on loan from Fulham on Monday, showed glimpses of his talents too, playing in all four of the attacking roles during the course of the night.
With Fulham boss Kyt Symons in the crowd watching the Welsh international, Robinson was excited by what the future has in store for the 19-year-old.
He said: “I thought George Williams was excellent. He has a great work ethic and determination. I played him in three positions.
“We started him on the left, but Carl Baker was having one of those afternoons where nothing worked for him. So we moved George inside, and then we got the goal.
“He covered every blade of grass. He did himself proud today.”