Sam Nombe continued in his pursuit of full match fitness on Tuesday, playing an hour in MK Dons’ Central League Cup clash with Cambridge United.
Nombe, who made his comeback from injury as a 74th-minute substitute in Saturday’s Sky Bet League One fixture with Doncaster Rovers, was able to add more minutes to the bank in Tuesday’s reserve match, which ended 3-2 in favour of the U’s.
The striker was named in a young side, which included only three other professionals - Laurie Walker, Matthew Sorinola and Dylan Asonganyi. Jamal Sule, Ollie Leach and Jamie Robinson lined up in defence alongside Sorinola, while John Freeman, Tom Rowley, Josh Bailey and Asonganyi made up the midfield, with the latter behind Nombe and Rio Deall.
The first chance of the game fell the way of Cambridge United. Joe Neal made his way into the box down the right-wing and pulled a cross back into the path of Jordan Norville-Willams – Freeman was in the right place to intercept.
Neal was once again involved with five-minutes on the clock, his shot was blocked by Sule.
The first chance for the Dons came on eight minutes through Jamie Robinson - the right-back’s cross towards Nombe was cleared by Finley Iron.
Asonganyi was the next to drive at the Cambridge United defence. The striker superbly carried the ball into the edge of the box, beating a number of defenders on his way, but instead of shooting, prodded into the path of Deall, who had his shot on goal blocked.
The best chance for the Dons then fell to Sam Nombe who rose highest to head beyond Iron in the Cambridge goal. Nombe, however, was denied by the covering defender who cleared off the line.
Dearman could have opened the scoring on 25minutes when he was found by Jake Battersby, however he was unable to keep his shot down, with his effort ending over Walker’s bar.
The breakthrough did eventually fall for Cambridge as Ben Worman’s deflected effort looped over Walker just before the half-hour mark. 0-1.
Walker was called into action shortly after to deny Neal, who was one-on-one at his near-post.
Sam Nombe was looking lively as he drifted out towards the right. Having picked up possession on the far touchline, Nombe beat two men before his cross was cleared.
Soon after, Cambridge doubled their advantage through Neville-Williams. He played a one-two with Joe Neal before squeezing a shot past Walker at his near post. 0-2.
Walker temporarily prevented the visitors from extending their lead as he produced an excellent fingertip save to deny Worman’s curling effort, but with the half-time whistle about to blow, Neal made it three with a simple finish from four-yards. 0-3.
With no changes at the break, it was the Dons who had the first chance of the second-half - Asonganyi having his shot blocked after he was found by Nombe.
Walker then produced another impressive save, this time tipping over from Battersby’s long-range effort.
The Dons reduced the deficit with 57 minutes played as Rio Deall put in a low cross that Josh Gray inadvertently put into his own net. 1-3.
Nombe was soon replaced by Lewis Johnson after completing his planned 60 minutes while Tali Jallow was also brought on from the bench in place of Josh Bailey.
Cambridge United enjoyed a strong spell after the changes, though they found Walker in inspired second-half form – the MK Dons stopper producing some impressive saves to keep the deficit at two.
That U’s lead was then cut to one courtesy of Deall, who slammed home a low drive at the far post, following some good work by Tom Rowley down the right. 2-3.
Deall’s goal set up a dramatic finish but the Dons were unable to complete a dramatic late comeback, with Cambridge holding on for victory.
MK Dons: Walker, Robinson, Sorinola, Freeman, Sule, Leach, Rowley, Bailey (Jallow 69), Nombe (c) (Johnson 60), Asonganyi, Deall.
Subs: Carter, Black, Crane.
Goals: Gray O.G. (57), Deall (84)