Having not played a League game since 8th December, MK Dons Under-18s travelled to Premier League side Fulham last weekend for a friendly match, in which they beaten 5-1.
Without Dele Alli, Brendan Galloway and Giorgio Rasulo who had all travelled to Hillsborough with the first team for the FA Cup Third Round clash against Sheffield Wednesday, Mike Dove’s side took advantage of the free weekend by taking on a strong Cottagers team, which included former Dons scholar George Williams.
Schoolboy duo Jay Taylor and Lawrence Vaughan were handed their first starts for the Under-18s while Dove also named fellow Under-16s Luke Tingey, Kyran Whiltshire and Ben Tilney in his starting XI, in what was a very youthful Dons side.
Despite a strong start by the Dons, it was the hosts that drew first blood after their number 9 was able to latch onto a deep cross from the right and head home unmarked at the far post.
The Dons, who struggled to cope with their physical and experienced opponents from set-pieces early on, were made to pay after nine minutes when, after a clever short corner, a Fulham striker was able to divert the ball just past the outstretched hands of Charlie Burns in the Dons goal from 12-yards.
The 2-0 scoreline, though, was somewhat unfair on the Dons, who continued to keep possession and dictate the tempo as they looked to frustrate their top division counterparts as they searched for a way back into the match.
The Cottagers however, looked deadly on the counter-attack and they grabbed a third by doing just that in the 18th minute – their towering centre-forward lashing home from a tight-angle after meeting a clever pass which cut through the Dons back-four.
It was from another set-piece that Fulham scored their fourth goal of the game, after Burns was beaten to a near-post corner as he came out to punch clear.
Trying their best not to be too disheartened, especially having dominated for large parts, the Dons went in search of a consolation and found it five minutes before the interval following some terrific play from Captain Mason Spence (pictured).
Bringing the ball out from the back, Spence spotted the run of Tilney on the right and found him with a delightful cross-field ball with the outside of his boot, which allowed the young Dons wide-man to lay-on for Whiltshire who confidently slotted home.
Director of Youth Dove was keen to stress to his players at the break that despite the scoreline there were a lot of positives that they could take from the first half, having matched their Premier League counterparts in terms of effort and possession.
The Dons, who never seemed to lack confidence throughout, managed to hold the strong Fulham side to very few chances in the second half, but were beaten for a final time in the 85th minute when the Cottagers right-winger was allowed enough space to rifle home a fierce effort from 30-yards.
Dove’s team will now look ahead to reigniting their League campaign this coming Saturday, when they travel to local rivals Luton Town in search of a second straight League win.
MK Dons (4-2-1-3): Burns; Spence (c), Hickford, Tingey, Osae; Ahmed, Whiltshire; Summerfield; Taylor, Vaughan (Tshimanga 46), Tilney.
Subs not used: King (GK)