Tisdale is still in the process of trial and error

Paul Tisdale admitted he is still finding out about his side
Paul Tisdale admitted he is still finding out about his side

Jason Shackell's header will ultimately mask the great step forward Dons made at Sincil Bank for those who weren't there to see it first hand.

While their first defeat this season saw them drop into the bottom half of League 2, and are now over a month without a win, considerably more plus points can be taken from the game than the point they picked up a week prior.

Taking the result out of Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Lincoln City, the performance was a marked improvement to the 1-1 draw with Forest Green a week earlier. The midfield were lively, led by the influential Jordan Houghton, as they stood toe-to-toe with the league leaders. They forced keeper Josh Vickers into key saves, and they were a matter of seconds away from coming away with a well-earned and thoroughly deserved point from the favourites for promotion.

Last week's experiment of taking direct aim at Chuks Aneke and using him as the playmaker did not work against Forest Green, and left a sour taste in the mouth. Using him as the lone striker too left him isolated and stifled his creativity against Lincoln, but the complexion changed when Rhys Healey and Kieran Agard were introduced, and Aneke was deployed in behind them. Healey scored from a brilliant opener from a tight angle and may have had another to his tally but for a questionable offside decision which would have swayed the tie in Dons' favour.

Still only 10 competitive games into his tenure in charge, Tisdale admits he is still finding out how best to get his side to play.

"There's a degree of trial and error from me," said Tisdale afterwards. "I'm trying to get talent and ability on the pitch, highlight our strengths and hide our weaknesses. As a manager, that takes time and trial and error.

"I've made three or four changes in style in the last few games to see what clicks. Even today, playing against a side who are undoubtedly contenders for the league, and we looked like we could win it.

"The substitutions changed the style a bit and we deserved the goal as a result of that positive move. We went for the win – it wasn't a case of sitting back. Although it feels horrid, it was a step forward in so many ways."