Oxford boss Karl Robinson criticised his team as MK Dons upset the form book to end the U’s’ 11-game unbeaten streak in League One.
The 1-0 victory also snapped a dismal 12-match winless league run for the Dons, as Joe Mason’s neat finish after 59 minutes ultimately proved enough.
Victory was all the sweeter for MK, given Robinson’s connections to the club, but he was adamant his old team should not be too proud of their display.
“MK Dons will probably sing from the roof and think they were good, they were not that good,” said Robinson. “They had one shot on target which went in.
“We had a gameplan to stifle them and they did not have a shot on target in the first half. I thought that we were off it in the final third and we looked a little bit loose.
“I cannot question the effort of my players and this is a learning curve. Our players have to learn one or two things and once we have come to terms with those, we will get our rhythm going again.
“My players almost care too much and this hurts but we were going to lose eventually.
“We are still a young team but it is disappointing to concede when they have only had one shot on target. We started the game well but it fizzled out – we dominated the second half but we were just throwing feathers instead of punches.”
Dons may not have had many shots on target but they should have put the result beyond doubt nine minutes from time as Alex Gilbey fired wide when clean through.
However, they clung to their one-goal advantage and secured a first league win since mid-September – moving within striking distance of safety.
“I am extremely proud, happy, and relieved too,” said Dons boss Russell Martin. “I am so proud of the players and the way that they are performing despite where we are in the league.
“It takes a lot of courage, conviction and belief to play the way we are when we are in our current position.
“It has been coming and we have felt that. We deserved to win and towards the end we could have had a couple more goals, which would have killed the game off and put the icing on the cake.
“I could stand here and name the whole team, what a performance from them all and this is a huge credit to everyone – we need to keep building on this now.
“The lads believe in the plan and they are sticking to it. We respect the opposition but we are only focused on ourselves and getting out of the position that we are in.”