MK Dons boss Karl Robinson admits he is facing the toughest test of his fledgling managerial career after their 1-0 home defeat to Stevenage.
Lucas Akins scored the only goal of the game in the first half as Boro ended the Dons' seven-match unbeaten run to move to within four points of table-toppers Tranmere.
Robinson was only able to name five substitutes due to a spate of injuries to key players and he believes a tough few weeks are now ahead after Stephen Gleeson hobbled off at the end with a suspected broken foot.
Robinson said: "We created the chances but didn't take them - I'm gutted, obviously, because I hate losing. You hear the boos at the end of the game, understandably because we haven't won, but I'm not going to knock them for that because I'm frustrated as well.
"We were already down to the bare bones and we now might have lost Stephen Gleeson for three months as well - he played the last 20 minutes with a suspected broken foot. We're a long way from where we want to be, I'm not going to bury my head in the sand and say that everything is rosy in the garden - it's far from it because we're six points behind Stevenage now.
"But we're only in October so there's a long way to go. This makes me hungry, determined and it also gives me the biggest challenge of my managerial life to go into a period of games with only probably four subs - it's going to be difficult."
Stevenage had the better of the first half and Akins put them ahead after 27 minutes, cutting inside Luke Chadwick to curl a fine shot past David Martin from the edge of the box.
Stevenage boss Gary Smith said: "I felt that there might have been a few people looking at us after last week's defeat and losing our unbeaten run but it was a fabulous three points at a tough place.
"I thought we combined some good counter-attacking football with some good defending but I thought we also kept the ball a little bit better and we just frustrated MK more than we have done sides in the past. Lucas' goal was worthy of being a match-winner - he's popped up with a couple of really important goals since he came to the club.
"But I've got to give some praise to the captain Mark Roberts as well - I thought he was immense, especially late on when there was a little bit of pressure and certainly more deliveries into the box. He's warming to the group, to the position we're in and he's really driving the troops on with belief as to what can be achieved."