Ryan Seager bagged a brace as MK Dons faced Brentford in their first of two friendlies at Stadium MK this week.
The Southampton loanee opened the scoring and restored the lead in an encouraging first half but the Bees hit back in the second period and, ultimately, won 3-2.
Gboly Ariyibi and Brandon Thomas-Asante came close to levelling matters in the closing 10 minutes as the Dons pushed the strong Sky Bet Championship side until the final whistle.
The men from MK1 started on the frontfoot and latest recruit Seager almost scored within the opening two minutes, curling a 20-yard effort inches wide of the right-hand post.
However, it didn’t take him much longer to break the deadlock, tapping home from close range after some good movement following two clever passes from George Williams and Kieran Agard, who delivered the ball.
Neilson’s men continued to look assured in possession and good work from Gboly Ariyibi and Ousseynou Cisse preceded another chance for Seager, who fired wide of the left-hand post.
Shortly afterwards, Agard, operating from the right, almost latched on to Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s through-ball before forcing a save from Luke Daniels – these chances coming either side of Lee Nicholls denying Kamo Mokotjo.
Nicholls couldn’t keep out Neal Maupay midway through the first half, though, the Bees’ new striker finishing from inside the six-yard box from Harlee Dean’s header.
The Dons restored their lead on 28 minutes when Agard capitalised on a mistake in the visitors’ backline and Seager was on hand to tap into an empty net.
They were forced to do some defending as the half drew to a close but they stood up to the challenge and went in 2-1 ahead courtesy of an encouraging display.
Ariyibi shone at the start of the second period and his free-kick was met by the head of Williams on 51 minutes but Daniels gathered.
Brentford’s recent signing Ollie Watkins pulled them level once again on 56 minutes, firing home at the back post after Ryan Woods had freed Henrik Dalsgaard, who crossed from the right.
A strong spell followed from the visitors but the Dons held firm including Scott Wootton, who played almost 70 minutes on his first outing at Stadium MK since last August.
At the other end, Ariyibi showcased his repertoire of skills to win a free-kick, which had to be punched away by Daniels under pressure.
Brentford went ahead for the first time on 76 minutes, Florian Jozefzoon curling the ball into the top corner after a superb run from substitute Jota.
The lively Ariyibi came close to levelling matters within a couple of minutes but he placed his shot just wide of the post from substitute Callum Brittain’s cross.
Brandon Thomas-Asante was introduced inside the final 10 minutes and he fired inches over courtesy of a powerful 20-yard effort as the Dons pushed for an equaliser.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Williams, Ebanks-Landell (Walsh 46), Wootton (Downing 67), Lewington (c); Upson (McGrandles 79), Cisse; Agard (Thomas-Asante 83), Rasulo (Brittain 58), Ariyibi; Seager (Trialist 67).
Unused subs: Sietsma.
Goals: Seager (6 & 28).