MK Dons capped off their pre-season tour of Ireland with a fine 4-1 win over Birmingham City in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
Alan Smith put the Dons in front inside half-an-hour before Koby Arthur pulled the score level with a fine curling strike. In the second half though, the Dons found their rhythm as Shaun Williams converted the side’s third penalty in as many games before Daniel Powell and George Baldock completed the scoring.
In their third game in as many days, the Dons were handed their toughest test of pre-season so far as they took on a strong Birmingham City side in a behind-closed-doors friendly. Alan Smith was named as the lone striker while Stephen Gleeson and Darren Potter played alongside each other for the first time in pre-season.
The Blues’ Andrew Shinnie registered the first real shot of the game inside the opening 10 minutes with a low drive from the right of the area, but David Martin made a simple stop.
The match was played in tough conditions under the burning hot mid-afternoon sun but a pitch in perfect condition was the ideal setting for the Dons to work on their fluid 4-2-3-1 system and their patterns of play.
Shaun Williams did his best to create an opening from a set-piece when his free-kick was whipped in at pace but Dean Lewington could not connect at the far post.
At the other end though, the Dons’ backline were kept busy when Shinnie had efforts blocked by Antony Kay and Tom Flanagan, while Martin was called on to make a fingertip save to deny the Blues.
It was, however, the Dons who took the lead in the 28th minute when Smith picked up a through ball and, after wrestling his way into the box, turned before firing the League 1 side ahead courtesy of the underside of the bar.
The Blues found an equaliser six minutes later when Lee Novak and Arthur shared a fine one-two before Arthur turned in a curling strike off the post. Lee Clarke’s side thought they had taken the lead just two minutes later when Novak had the ball in the net from a Wade Elliott cross, but the goal was ruled offside.
Izale McLeod was introduced at half-time to take the place of Rasulo, who had enjoyed a good shift in the number 10 role providing support to Smith.
The forward made a nuisance of himself and quickly cause problems for the Blues defence. When McLeod was fed through on the left of the box Dan Burn took his feet away and the Dons were awarded their third penalty in as many games.
Regular penalty-taker Williams stepped up and once again showed bags of confidence as he sent the ‘keeper the wrong way and fired the Dons in front.
On the half-hour-mark the game was stopped for a water break and the Dons used the opportunity to bring Santiago Aloi and George Baldock into the action.
From the restart the Dons caught their opponents off-guard and Powell was afforded space on the edge of the area to fire a half-volley, which picked up a slight deflection, beyond the reach of Colin Doyle.
The Dons continued to dominate the play and they made it count by extending their lead to a three-goal cushion. Baldock picked up the ball on the right-hand side, embarked on a great run before finishing from a
Dele Alli came close to adding his name to the scoreline when he broke on a one-on-one with Doyle but the ‘keeper connected just enough to tip the ball over the bar.
The Dons spent the final ten minutes trying to keep Nikola Zigic quiet and preventing the Blues from reducing the deficit.
The match had seen a significant step-up in the Dons’ preparations and there would have been plenty to please the management.
MK Dons: Martin; Flanagan, Kay, Williams (Baldock 60), Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson (Galloway 69); Powell, Rasulo (McLeod 45), Alli (Rasulo 83); Smith.
Birmingham: Doyle, Elliott (Spector 60), Burn (Mullins 60), Hancox, Bartley (Robinson 60), Davis, Reilly, Ambrose (Lee 45), Arthur (Burke 45), Shinnie, Novak (Zigic 60).