MK Dons delivered an impressive display against top-flight Leicester City at Stadium MK on Friday evening.
Robbie Neilson’s men more than matched the former Premier League champions, enjoying the better of the chances in their final outing ahead of the season curtain-raiser against Wigan Athletic next Saturday.
Aaron Tshibola made his Dons bow after arriving from Aston Villa a day earlier and he impressed in the early exchanges as the men from MK1 started confidently.
However, the first chance of the evening went to Leicester, who almost went ahead on seven minutes courtesy of a Leonardo Ulloa header but he guided Tom Lawrence’s cross over the top.
A chance at either end then followed with Andy King firing wide of the target before a superb pass from Tshibola set up Ed Upson, who brought a save from Ben Hamer.
Upson tested Hamer once again from distance on 11 minutes before Ulloa laid it on a plate for King but Lee Nicholls was up to the task to gather the effort from the edge of the area.
Alongside Tshibola and Upson, Ousseynou Cisse was exerting his authority in a midfield three and that was summed up by a superbly-timed challenge on Demarai Gray.
Fellow new recruit Gboly Ariyibi was impressing on the left, offering a real threat as the Dons looked for the opener.
The former Premier League champions, understandably, looked dangerous going forward and Gray saw a shot deflected over the top but, all in all, the men from MK1 were assured in defence including Scott Wootton, who continued to impress.
Forward from left-back, Dean Lewington cut the ball back but couldn’t pick out a team-mate as the first half came to a close.
The first chance of the second period saw Ariyibi fire wide after Lewington had been freed by Tshibola down the left-hand side.
With the fixture approaching the hour mark, the Dons continued to match their superior opponents and Agard was inches away from handing Neilson’s men the lead after latching on to an incisive pass from Tshibola, who was later replaced to a standing ovation.
Ariyibi and Upson then went close – the former seeing a low drive pushed away by Ben Hamer, who then saved from the latter after the ball had been recycled well by the Dons.
Substitute Brandon Thomas-Asante showed his ability with a smart turn and shot, which whistled not too far past the left-hand post.
The game began to open up with 10 minutes remaining – Agard won the battle down the right-hand side and held it up for Thomas-Asante, who couldn’t quite connect, before Matty James sent an effort over the bar.
Ariyibi continued to shine until the final whistle and delivered a couple of dangerous crosses late on - just the finishing touch was missing.
Neilson said his side had got gradually better in pre-season and you couldn’t argue on this showing as the Dons prepared for the season opener with an encouraging performance.
MK Dons: Nicholls (Sietsma 90); Williams, Wootton (Downing 78), Walsh, Lewington (c) (Brittain 81); Upson (Rasulo 81), Cisse, Tshibola (McGrandles 66); Agard, Ariyibi, Seager (Thomas-Asante 72).
Unused subs: Jackson.
Attendance: 7,561 (1,410 Leicester City fans).