MK Dons returned to action at Stadium MK on Tuesday and put in a solid display against Sky Bet Championship side Ipswich Town.
Tisdale’s side looked solid at the back and provided the Tractor Boys with some moments of danger at the other end of the pitch but it was the visitors who came out on top - winning 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Freddie Sears.
The starting XI included two players - Jordan Moore-Taylor and Jordan Houghton - making their first appearances as MK Dons players at Stadium MK, as well as the returning Ryan Harley. There was also a start for Alex Gilbey, seven months on from knee injury.
MK Dons started bright but it was Ipswich who threatened goal first when Ellis Harrison collected a low cross from Grant Ward. The striker’s initial effort was blocked by Callum Brittain and the follow-up attempt was sent wide.
Supporters inside Stadium MK got their first glimpse of the attacking play that Tisdale will be looking to bring to the Club inside the opening five minutes. Kieran Agard demonstrated some strong hold-up play before finding Alex Gilbey, who switched play over to Conor McGrandles. The midfielder controlled the ball on his chest but was dispossessed as he made his way deep into the penalty area.
Ipswich saw a lot of the ball in the opening 20 minutes but the MK Dons defence dealt with everything that came their way. Jordan Moore-Taylor and George Williams were dominant while Jordan Houghton and Alex Gilbey made some crucial tackles in the middle of the park.
At the other end, there was a half-chance for Harley but the midfielder wasn’t able to connect with his strike after Luke Chambers’ headed clearance fell kindly for him on the edge of the box.
The closest either side came to an opening goal inside the first half an hour was from Ipswich winger Ward’s left-footed drive, which he flashed wide from deep inside the MK Dons penalty area.
Soon after that chance, an in-swinging free-kick put the MK Dons defence under pressure but once more they stepped up to the mark - Lee Nicholls, this time, the man to deal with the situation, punching clear inside a crowded six-yard box.
MK Dons’ best attacking move of the first half arrived on 35 minutes. It involved nearly every player in a red and gold shirt as they worked their way from one end of the pitch to the other. It resulted in a chance for Gilbey, who dragged his right-footed shot wide. Harley was lurking at the far post but couldn’t pounce and convert.
Ipswich threatened once more at the end of the first half but the centre-back duo of Williams and Moore-Taylor wouldn’t let the Tractor Boys through. In one instance, Moore-Taylor stayed step for step with a surging Harrison and blocked the striker’s shot.
MK Dons put together another good move a minute before the interval. Gilbey drove forward before cutting back and switching play to McGrandles, who spotted the run of Callum Brittain and picked him out with a clever pass. Brittain beat his man but couldn’t pick out a teammate with his cross.
Gilbey was the only player not to return to the field for the second half. The planned substitute saw Ousseynou Cisse take the place of the attacking midfielder, who continues to make progress on his way back from a knee injury.
Ipswich registered the first attempt of the second half and it was the best of the match to that point. Harrison cut onto his right foot on the edge of the area and sent a bending shot towards the far post which Lee Nicholls dived over to and saved well.
MK Dons then went close after a winning a corner from a Williams header which was put over the crossbar by an Ipswich defender. The visitors failed to deal with the resulting set-piece and that led to a chance for Harley, who forced Bartosz Bialkowski into a diving save with his 20-yard strike.
The next shot on target, on 58 minutes, resulted in the game’s opening goal. Confusion at the back allowed Ward to nip in but the Ipswich wide man was brought down by Williams. The referee pointed straight to the penalty spot and Freddie Sears converted to put the visitors ahead. 0-1.
MK Dons looked to respond through Peter Pawlett seven minutes later. The attacking midfielder raced onto Agard’s flick but his left-footed effort was straight down the throat of Bialkowski.
Tisdale’s side were then awarded a free-kick which was taken after four changes were made by the manager. The delivery was sent over to the far post where a stretching Moore-Taylor was inches away from connecting.
Aidan Nesbitt was one of those four substitutions made and he went agonisingly close to an equaliser with only his second touch. Liam Sole’s low cross made it through to the Scot who, after composing himself, sent in a shot which was palmed away by the Ipswich keeper.
Five more changes were made with a quarter of an hour remaining and the switches saw a number of young professionals enter the contest as well as new signing Mitch Hancox and goalkeeper Wieger Sietsma.
The young defence coped well with the threats from the Sky Bet Championship outfit. Finn Tapp, on one occasion, showing tremendous touch and composure to cleverly work his way out of trouble while under pressure from two defenders on the edge of his own box.
Nombe limped off with seven minutes left to play after picking up a knock. He was replaced by 17-year-old Dylan Asonganyi, who looked eager from the off while leading the line up front.
However, neither he nor his teammates were able to find away past the Ipswich backline to grab the equalising goal their display arguably deserved.
Starting XI: Nicholls (Sietsma 76); Brittain (Kasumu 76), Williams (Tapp 76), Moore-Taylor (Jackson 76) Lewington (c) (Hancox 76); Gilbey (Cisse 46), McGrandles (Watson 68), Houghton (Sole 68); Pawlett (Nesbitt 68), Agard (Nombe 68 (Asonganyi 83), Harley (Cisse 59).
Unused subs: None.
Attendance: 2,639 (511 away)
Referee: S Duncan