Tisdale praises duo after Dons end pre-season with a win

Kieran Agard and Conor McGrandles
Kieran Agard and Conor McGrandles

Conor McGrandles and Kieran Agard impressed manager Paul Tisdale in Dons' 1-0 win over Oxford United on Friday night.

McGrandles was a 19th minute substitute, replacing injured Callum Brittain on the right-hand side of midfield. But second half substitutions saw him play in the centre of the park, at right back and finally at centre back after Oran Jackson also limped off.

Agard meanwhile saw a lot more of the ball compared to three days earlier in the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town, and created three decent chances before converting in the 66th minute to win the game.

With goals coming at a premium this pre-season, Tisdale says his team must do more to create chances for Agard.

"We've really worked on getting him in the game more," he said. "He will come to life in front of goal, but we have to make that happen to give us some end product. The ball was in and around him a lot more today. It wasn't always perfect, but he had opportunities to give their centre backs some problems. He did it numerous times, but even without the goal, his actions and how he troubled the defence impressed me. You need a team who can help him with that though, and we did it more often today.

"We have to get the ball up to him. Some strikers help get the ball up there, others need help getting the ball to them - all strikers are different. You rarely get a player who can do it all. He has a specific set of skills that I admire and think we can use. It's my job to get the best out of him, play to him and get the strengths out of him."

Paul Tisdale

Paul Tisdale

McGrandles, 22, was given a regular run in the side under Robbie Neilson last season, making 27 appearances in all competitions. And his versatility impressed new boss Tisdale against Oxford.

Tisdale added: "He came off the bench and played four positions. When you're a good player, you can do that. He did it without breaking a stride. Conor showed today he has a good set of skills and he's a good footballer."

Coming up against former Dons boss Karl Robinson's League 1 Oxford United side, Tisdale said he noticed a step up in levels of performance and patience and was happy to end the pre-season friendlies in winning fashion.

Tisdale said: "There has been a step up in the last two weeks in terms of the way the team has competed, the connection on the pitch and the proximity of our play. It wasn't all perfect but there was a lot more forward drive and it was nice to get the win of course, but there were so many changes in the final 10 minutes that anything could have happened. But I'm pleased to win, for Kieran Agard to score a really good goal and a lot of positive performances all over the pitch.

Dons celebrate Agard's goal

Dons celebrate Agard's goal

"I don't think we wanted it more than Oxford, but we had some drive about us. We haven't over coached it, but I've been asking them to think with a bit of freedom and intent. When you think like that, sometimes things go your way.

"They had a really good 10 minutes at the start but what I liked was how we let them have the ball, held firm and then built our performance. I'm really pleased with how he worked today."