Paul Tisdale heaped praise on his 'surprised' players after he rang the changes in the MK Dons team on Tuesday night.
Chuks Aneke's 87th minute goal earned Dons their first away win since November 3 as they beat Newport County at Rodney Parade, in a side which featured five changes from the weekend, including dropping goalkeeper Lee Nicholls.
His replacement, Stuart Moore, saw his goal frame rattled four times by the Exiles who seldom lose at home before Aneke came off the bench to snatch the points.
Callum Brittain and Ouss Cisse came back into the side after lengthy periods out of favour, while Conor McGrandles was excellent in the centre of the park.
Tisdale admitted afterwards his team selection was left until the 11th hour, and said some of the players were surprised by their inclusion in the starting 11.
He said: "Sometimes when you make selections, you have to decide on the concept. I wanted freshness and players who perhaps didn't even think they were playing. I didn't decide until 5pm. You can't do that every week, but it livened everything up. The players coming in: Stuart Moore, Callum Brittain, Ouss Cisse, Conor McGrandles – who was brilliant today – they all did fabulously well.
"I'm very proud, very thankful for the result. As much as Newport gave us a going over, and we had to defend, we kept going and made some positive changes to win it. And we did! Well done to Chuks for scoring, well done for the clean sheet. I'm delighted."
Newport had plenty of chances to alter the result, most notably their four efforts off the posts and crossbar, but Tisdale said Dons needed a little stroke of luck to help them out of their dismal run away from Stadium MK.
"Over the course of the season, you'll ride your luck," he said. "Every time they had a shot, we had pressure on the player – maybe it was enough. It is a game of inches and we just about did enough.
"How Newport ended without a goal I don't know. They had a real intent about them, they looked a really good side. But this is about us getting a result, a clean sheet and a late winner.
"Call it ugly, professional, sometimes the majesty of a 1-0 win is what you want as a manager."