MK Dons edged a six-goal thriller against local side Leighton Town in a pre-season friendly which ended 4-2 in the League 1 side’s favour at Bells Close.
The Dons, who had earlier sent a team to Newport Pagnell, fell behind in the match but two stunning goals from Stephen Gleeson, a penalty from Shaun Williams and a late strike from Jacob Daffern were enough to maintain their unbeaten start to their pre-season campaign.
Karl Robinson named a strong line-up which included new signing Ben Reeves, who had penned a one-year-deal earlier in the day, as one of eight first team players.
However, the big names of the Dons were humbled inside the opening five minutes when a through ball caught out Antony Kay and the defender was turned by James Gray. The forward showed great pace as he ran clean through into the box before turning a low shot in at the far post.
The friendly offered Robinson an opportunity to blood Reeves into his new side and paired the former Southampton man with Stephen Gleeson in midfield.
Dons’ early plans were dealt a blow in the 12th minute when goalkeeper Martin signalled over to the bench and was immediately replaced by Charlie Burns, who took up a third-year scholar deal in the summer.
There was some good movement from the Dons as Will Summerfield drifted in from the right-hand side to link up with Chadwick who, in turn found Gleeson but the midfield threw a dummy and let Galloway turn the ball goal-bound, but it proved to be too tame to truly test Nick Claessen in goal.
After a patchy start the Dons found their rhythm and started to create some good chances in front of goal. When Smith was found with his back to goal only a heavy touch denied him the opportunity to turn and shoot at goal, but the loose ball did find Summerfield whose shot dragged wide.
Town gave as good as they got though and the Dons were lucky not to find themselves two goals down when Aidan Denton broke on the left of the box but saw his effort drag just wide of the upright.
The Dons’ first shot on target came in on the half-hour mark when a fine cross from Summerfield was met by the glancing header of Smith, yet the forward’s attempts to level the score were thwarted by Claessen in goal.
However, there was nothing the Town ‘keeper could do only minutes later when Gleeson took one touch on the edge of the area to lift the ball up and he unleashed a stunning strike into the back of the net to level the scores in an impressive fashion.
The Dons almost had a slice of fortune when Kay opted for a low drill from distance and Aaron McKee stuck out a foot which deflected the shot and left Claessen to make a good stop on the line.
Throughout the first half Gleeson was the touch of quality which shone through while he was well aided by Reeves who helped control the proceedings.
At the half-time interval Leighton Town made whole sale changes with only one player remaining on the pitch from the first half. In contrast, the Dons made only the one change with Jon Osae replacing Remy Forrester.
It took the Dons nine minutes into the second half to get their noses in front when great work from Osae down the left wing forced Town’s Jack Copson into a foul and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Williams stepped up and, despite Nigel Whatton in goal going the correct way, was able to squeeze his effort into the back of the net. At that point the Dons then decided to make further changes with Smith and Chadwick making way for Osei-Addo and Kabongo Tshimanga.
On the hour-mark Gleeson produced another moment of magic with a 35-yard thunderbolt which flew through the field and into Whatton’s net before he had chance to judge the shot.
In an entertaining spell Town quickly reduced the deficit to 3-2 when Sean Sinnott broke on the counter-attack and beat Burns on a one-on-one.
The Dons continued to make changes as Ben Tilney and Luke Tingey were introduced as Kay and Gleeson made way. The youth players continued to filter through as Aaran Weston and Kyran Wiltshire were brought on in the final ten minutes to leave George Baldock as the most senior player on the pitch
In the closing stages Town edged close to an equaliser when they had a goal disallowed for a foul on Burns and a penalty appeal turned down when the ball appeared to strike the arm of Osae.
The final substitution of the day saw Daffern take the place of Baldock as the youth team were handed the responsibility of seeing out the match at Bells Close, but Daffern had a bigger impact as he fired in the fourth and final goal of the afternoon.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin (Burns 12); Baldock (Daffern 88), Kay (Tingey 65), Williams (Westson 80), Forrester (Osae 46); Reeves (Wiltshire 80), Gleeson (Tilney 65); Galloway, Chadwick (Osei-Addo 61), Summerfield; Smith (Tshimanga 56).