Russell Martin enjoyed Saturday’s entertaining Sky Bet League One clash with Sunderland at Stadium MK.
In a match which saw 16th-placed MK Dons take on play-off chasing Sunderland, both sides went toe-to-toe in a free-flowing encounter – an encounter which ultimately finished 2-2 but could have gone either way.
“It was a really good game,” Martin said in his post-match press conference. “It was two good teams, going toe-to-toe, battling for control and territory.
“We were playing one of the best teams and strongest squads in the league, who are working hard under their new manager to get some momentum.
“We started really well and I didn't see their first goal coming at all. (Aiden) McGeady picks it up a long way from goal and it takes one pass for them to score. It was too soft.
“To go 1-0 down so early, it would have been easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves, but it actually led to our best period of the game.
“We bounced back really well, but then struggled in the final 15 minutes of the first half and needed half-time.
“The second half was a bit ‘ding-dong’. If the pitch was better, I think we'd have gained more control than we did and given away fewer chances.
“We were tired towards the end but you can't question the character and willingness. In other Sunderland games we’ve seen, the last 20 minutes turns into them attacking and dominating, and other teams hanging on, but that didn't happen here.
“That's why I'm not too disappointed in the point. It’s a good point for us, although we had some good chances and, on another day, we could have had a few more goals.”
Martin added: “We've, once again, shown how competitive we are against the top teams. We're still paying for that slow start to the season in terms of our league position, but on our day, we've a very good team at this level.
“There is a lot to be excited about. We're very young and we're still in transition, but if we can get some momentum then it will give us as good a chance to get up the table.”
There were several standout performers in Saturday’s clash, which is why Martin had plenty of praise to hand out in his press conference.
“I thought Cammy (Cameron Jerome) put in an incredible shift today - the intensity he pressed at, he held the ball up well, he got other people in good positions and took his goal well. Late on, he was through on goal and got brought down which apparently wasn't a free kick.
“When he shows all that, the others follow because he's a real leader in the group. He's a good pro and his reaction to everything that’s gone on shows all you need to know about him. He'll give us everything he's got and, in return, we’ve got one of the best strikers in the division, no doubt about it.
“Yet another manager came into my office after the game and said 'how good is Dean Lewington?!' For some reason, everyone seems to expect him not perform to the level he does – maybe because of his age or maybe because he doesn't look like your modern-day footballer.
“But, once again, he was outstanding. I’m just so pleased he’s in our team. As long as I’m at this Club, there will be a place for Dean Lewington - whether it's on or off the pitch. If he keeps putting in performances like today, it will be on the pitch for long time still.
“(Ethan Laird) was brilliant. The difference between him in his first game and today is miles apart.
“Zak did really well in his first game. He's not really a wing-back, but we asked him to do that job today. He's only had two days working on it in training. He will soon get up to speed with the intensity, and you'll see a different Zak Jules soon.
“We had to use (Andrew Fisher) more than I wanted today. He's so quick across his line and so athletic - he's just a top keeper. We're very lucky to have him.
“It's why Dean Thornton pushed so hard to get him in. He recognised the potential and he came here with a willingness to play. He's our number one and he's loved by everyone.”
Russell Martin's MK Dons return to action on Tuesday when they take on Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena.
Supporters will be able to watch the game courtesy of iFollow MK Dons. With an iFollow MK Dons Video Match pass, you will be able to watch Martin's side in action on your laptop, computer, tablet or mobile device!
To purchase a £10 Video Match Pass, click HERE and select Buy A Video Match Pass. Then simply log in to your iFollow MK Dons account and follow the instructions or register for an account, which can be done for free.