Karl Robinson feels his side are punching above their weight after they knocked Championship rivals Cardiff City out of the Capital One Cup.
It took extra time, but goals from Carl Baker and Josh Murphy eventually overturned Alex Revell’s 53rd minute opener to set up a clash with Premier League Southampton in the third round.
And with just one defeat in all competitions so far this season, coming against fellow promoted side Preston at stadium:mk, Robinson feels his players deserve a lot of credit for the way the team has started life in the second tier.
“We’re punching well above our weight,” he said. “I’m really happy to be through to the next round for the second year.
“And if we win on Saturday, what an unbelievable start we’ll have had, we’ll be in dreamland.
“The players deserve a lot of credit because people don’t realise how hard they’re working.”
And they certainly showed it by putting in the miles during the 120 minutes at stadium:mk on Tuesday night, running Cardiff ragged deep into the second period of extra time.
For Robinson, his side’s hunger and tenacity were a huge plus, though he admits playing the extra half hour wasn’t ideal.
He said: “For us, going to extra time was a big ask because of our schedule. Physically, they cannot do it. It puts players at risk.
“The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy corrected it by going straight to penalties, and I think most managers wouldn’t have an issue going straight to penalties.
“My players looked really fit, quick and powerful for the whole 120 minutes. We denied them opportunities.
“At no stage did I feel we were out of it. It felt like it was pre-season, with neither side really working too hard. It was a bit nip and tuck.
“I felt Cardiff scored against the run of play, but after that I thought we were sensational. We moved the ball and made it difficult for them.
“Our fitness levels looked magnificent, and we looked a very good side.
“The whole team was excellent. I thought Diego was absolutely sensational though. I think 10 of our 14 players are 23 and under.
“We’re a young side who have really entertained against a really good Cardiff side.”