Michael Duff was ‘really pleased’ for two-goal substitute Max Watters after the 4-4 draw at MK Dons and generally praised the players who were drafted in having had little gametime.

Watters had scored twice in 17 appearances, 12 of which were off the bench, after joining on loan from Cardiff City in January.

He assisted one goal and scored the next two at his former club as the Reds came from 4-1 down.

Head coach Duff said: “Max has had it tough. We had a good conversation with him about where he’s at. I was really pleased for him. People forget he’s away from home, not playing every week. I was delighted he doubled his goal tally.”

Striker Oli Shaw, another January signing, was involved for the first time since February as he came off the bench late on.

“A lot of the new signings have had it tough because the team has been doing well. Oli definitely didn’t look out of place. He needs to be ready and he proved he is.

“Jon Russell and Barry Cotter did well when they came on. We want the subs to impact the game and they did.”

Duff - who was disappointed with his team’s performance - had made four changes to the side, with the top two no longer possible. Josh Benson, Luke Thomas and Robbie Cundy had started just once between them since mid-January.

“We paid 800 grand for Josh and a million pound for Luke Thomas. They are good players and I’ve said it all along.

“It wasn’t the lads who are new into the team who let us down. If anything they have more grace than the others who should be at it no matter what. It’s not like anyone has played themselves out of contention.”