Liam Manning thought Saturday’s clash with Ipswich Town was a ‘terrific advert for League One football’ as his side capped off a positive week by maintain their unbeaten run.
Manning’s men made it five points in seven days with a hard-fought goalless draw at Stadium MK – a draw which keeps them third in the Sky Bet League One table, nine points clear of Ipswich who are amongst the sides chasing down a play-off place.
“I thought it was a terrific advert for League One football,” Manning said in his post-match press conference.
“It might not have had the goals but I thought had a bit of everything else. Credit to the guys and how hard they worked, how hard they competed and the intensity they showed.
“It was a real tough game - Ipswich are a good side and Kieran (McKenna) has done a good job in terms of getting them set up and organised.
“The guys had to show a bit of everything - we pressed well, we blocked well and I thought we built well at times. It was just the final bit - whether it be the final ball, final touch, the final decision.
“We didn't we didn't give them too many chances either and that has to be the basis for us – being hard to beat. It’s not just highlighting the back three because we defend from the front - everybody defends and everybody attacks.
“I think we just about shaded it in terms of the areas we got into and the chances we had but it was such a close game, it's not one where we’re going away from the game going ‘we should have won that’. It’s a really hard, well-earned point and I think it's a good point for us.”
Manning added: “It’s been a good week, especially when you when you look at the journey and the travelling on Tuesday, which takes a lot out of lads. The heavy pitch, the long trip, the tough game and then getting ready to go again today - I thought the lads were outstanding.
“It's going to be a really important week for us now, off the back of a really heavy period. Rest is going to be equally as important as work, especially at this stage of the season so we need to make sure the lads are given the right recovery so we are ready for next weekend.
“Momentum we've spoken a bit about. It’s about making sure that we continue that momentum and going out and being hard to beat is always a really good starting point. If you do that, you give yourself a chance of picking up points.”
Here is what else Liam Manning had to say in his post-match press conference…
On making three changes to his starting XI…
“We’re going to need everybody. Today was going to be such a tough game, physically, that we had to make sure that we prioritised what the team needed. That’s the first thing we look at when we make decisions around what team we put out - what do we need to be successful in that game? We are constantly looking ahead, assessing and analysing the players and where they're at. We have to make decisions on whether people can sustain an optimal level of performance and that means changing it at times. The style of a game will change it at times too. A huge amount of work that goes into picking the starting line-up.”
On Conor Coventry’s continued good form…
“I’ve known Conor a long time and I knew exactly what we'd get from him. If it’s a footballing game he can play in that and if it’s a physical battle, he can play in that also. What we've done is brought in someone really settled in quickly and added to the team here.”
On being hard to beat…
“Early on, when we first joined, we were scoring lots of goals but also giving up lots of chances and goals. When you look at the progress the groups made out of possession, we've got a really good platform going into games - we don't give up too many chances and when you do that you always have a chance to pick something up from the game.”
On Connor Wickham’s impact…
“I was pleased with Connor. He gives us a different type of outlet and caused them a lot of problems, won quite a few free kicks. It’s not always about what you do in open play. He used his body well and I thought he had a real positive impact for us.”
On enjoying the journey…
“I don't want us to focus on the end of this season, I want us to focus week by week and enjoy the journey. Credit to the group, they’ve worked really hard to get us in a good spot. Now it’s about not getting too high not getting too low and not getting carried away with ourselves. We need to turn up week in, week out and do what is required and that always starts with earning the right to play.”
Liam Manning and MK Dons take their five-game unbeaten run to the North East this weekend when they take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Tickets, which must be bought in advance from the Box Office or online, are priced at £26 adults, £23 over-65s and £18 under-22s while under-16s tickets are priced at £12.
To book tickets CLICK HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 01908 622933. Tickets will be available to buy from the Box Office and online until 4pm on Friday.