While disappointed to walk away from Turf Moor on the losing side, Russell Martin was bursting with pride as his MK Dons players proved more than a match for their Premier League counterparts.
Martin’s men were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup on penalties after a 94th-minute goal from Matej Vydra denied them what would have been a famous victory – one which they looked good value for after Cameron Jerome’s header on the half-hour.
Speaking afterwards, the Dons boss didn’t hide his regret at not being in the fourth round of the prestigious cup competition, but was also keen to get across his satisfaction with an excellent away performance.
“I'm really disappointed for the group to concede with the last kick and then lose the tie on penalties but I'm immensely proud of the players,” Martin told iFollow MK Dons after Saturday’s tie in Lancashire.
“We went toe-to-toe with a Premier League team and really competed and battled hard. We could have played a bit more, but we were against an aggressive team who pressed really hard, and when we did show composure and play our way through, we looked really dangerous.
“Burnley had chances, yes, but look who they've got on the pitch - players who score regularly in the Premier League! When you come up against a Premier League team, and play like we do, it will leave you open, but when Lee [Nicholls] was called upon, he did really well.
“They didn't do a lot in the second half to really trouble our lead and I thought we were going through. We were told it was the end of the game before that free kick was given, but [the referee] has let it play on. We should defend it better but that's still frustrating.”
Martin, reverting back to the positives, added: “The players have done everyone proud. Let’s not forget, we've got a lot of players back in MK who are not fit and who would have been in the team today - to do that with a depleted squad is outstanding!
“Ultimately, we've drawn with a Premier League team over 120 minutes. To lose on penalties is a cruel way to go out, but if that can’t give our players belief in how good they can be, then I don’t know what will.
“We’re trying to build momentum and keep improving. If we can put in performances like this in the league, then we’ll be in with a right good chance of moving up the table.”
Russell Martin's MK Dons now turn their attention to Tuesday's Papa John's Trophy tie with Northampton Town, where a place in the quarter finals is on offer. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.
Supporters can watch the PTS Academy Stadium clash LIVE on iFollow MK Dons - click HERE to purchase a Video Match Pass!