Fans returned to Stadium MK on Wednesday as MK Dons concluded their pre-season campaign with a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur.
Over 15,000 were in attendance as Russell Martin’s played their first game in front of supporters since December 2020.
While it was Spurs who would come out on top 3-1 on the night, the Dons had plenty to be proud of – not least John Freeman’s excellent late finish which was the least Martin’s men deserved for their showing.
MK Dons were awarded the chance to take the lead just five-minutes into the game after Scott Twine was hauled to the ground by Alfie Whiteman. It was Matt O’Riley who took on penalty taking duties, with Whiteman redeeming himself to deny Dons the lead.
Heung-Min Son and Sergio Reguilon both had opportunities for Spurs that they failed to hit the target from. The latter did find the target moments later but saw his effort parried away by Franco Ravizzoli.
Son had the ball in the net midway through the first half but was denied by the linesman’s flag. The Dons, meanwhile, were still giving their visitors a good game, keeping possession well and attacking with purpose and pace at every opportunity that presented itself.
It was Tottenham, though, who would break the deadlock with 36 minutes played – Son, beating the offside trap before lifting a shot over the on-rushing Ravizzoli and into the far corner of the net. 0-1.
Twine went close to a stunning equaliser with five minutes to play in the first half but his dipping free-kick was brilliantly saved by Alfie Whiteman, diving full stretch to his right. Darling also tested Whiteman, from a later corner, with a looping header which the Spurs stopper claimed.
HALF-TIME – MK Dons 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1
SECOND HALF MK Dons started the second half well, with David Kasumu at the thick of the early action. He almost provided an assist for Mo Eisa but he was dragged too far wide of goal to fashion a chance.
At the other end, Ravizzoli denied Spurs on two occasions – first with a strong punch above Son and then with a one-on-one stop to keep out the South Korean’s effort.
Twine tried his luck with a 55th-minute strike from distance which skidded just wide of the left upright.
Three minutes later, though, Spurs were able to double their lead and it was, of course, Dele on the scoresheet, slotting in a pass back from Son to find the net, once again, in front of the Cowshed - just as he did numerous times during his time coming through the ranks at Stadium MK. 0-2.
Despite the two-goal deficit, Ravizzoli was having an impressive outing between the sticks and he twice prevented the visitors from extending the advantage, including an excellent reaction stop from a point-blank header.
Twine was presented with another opportunity to get on the scoresheet from a free-kick when Eisa was brought down on the edge of the D shortly after the hour. His effort was on target but well saved by Whiteman.
The Dons were dealt a blow moments later as Max Watters was forced off with an apparent injury. He was replaced by Charlie Brown.
A slew of other changes followed, with Dean Lewington, Zak Jules, Ethan Robson and Brooklyn Ilunga all coming into the action. The remainder of the substitutes entered shortly after.
One of those substitutes, trialist James Morton, earned himself plaudits from the Cowshed with a goal-line block to stop Dele doubling his tally.
There was nothing Morton nor anybody could do about Spurs adding a third on 81 minutes – Lucas, the scorer, racing through and beating Laurie Walker with a powerful finish across goal.
However, those home fans amongst the 15,000 at Stadium MK did get something to celebrate late on thanks to John Freeman, who got MK Dons on the scoresheet with an excellent finish from the edge of the area. 1-3.
The sound of MK Dons fans celebrating was the perfect note to end on. After months of behind-closed-doors action, Stadium MK was finally back open for business. Next up, Sunderland but not before trips to AFC Bournemouth and Bolton Wanderers for Russell Martin and his men.
FULL-TIME – MK Dons 1, Tottenham Hotspur 3
MK Dons: Ravizzoli (Walker 71), Watson (Martin 71), Baldwin (Lewington 66), O’Hora (Jules 66), Darling, O’Riley (Robson 66), Kasumu (c) (Morton 71), Twine (Freeman 71), Eisa (Bird 71), Watters (Brown 64), Harvie (Ilunga 66).
Unused subs: None.
Goal: Freeman (84)
Tottenham Hotspur: Whiteman, Doherty, Reguilon, Son (Scarlett 74), Dele (c), Bergwijn, Tanganga, Lucas, Skipp (Omole 74), Carter-Vickers, John.
Subs: Lloris, Davies, Parrott, Paskotsi, Fagan-Walcott, Clarke, White.
Goals: Son (36), Dele (57), Lucas (81)