MK Dons edged out a seven-goal thriller against La Liga’s Rayo Vallecano in their first home match of pre-season.
Rayo, who finished eighth in the Spanish top flight last season, were the perfect match for the Dons with a similar footballing philosophy and an impressive passing style. The match-up proved to be a good one as supporters were spoilt for choice with an array of fine goals.
The hosts opened the scoring through Dean Lewington but an excellent double from Rayo’s Johan Mojica put the Spaniards in the driving seat. Two goals in quick succession from Luke Chadwick and Jason Banton put the Dons in a shock lead just before the break.
From that point the Dons never looked back and when Darren Potter netted their fourth of the evening the result was all but confirmed. Rayo, however, did manage a consolation in the closing stages with a penalty from Adrian Gonzalez.
In their first match at home since the end of the 2012/13 season, the Dons expected their toughest test of pre-season to date with La Liga opposition in their way.
The Dons, however, got off to a flying start when a Shaun Williams free-kick was delivered at pace for Lewington, who provided a thumping header to hand his side the lead inside three minutes. The left-back was completely unmarked as he rose for the header and is unlikely to score an easier goal this season.
The tempo was quick and with both teams renowned for their passing style it was always set to be an entertaining match at stadiummk.
Rayo Vallecano were quick on the counter-attack and in the 11th minute the Dons were caught cold by a superb through ball from Roberto Thrasharras, the pass found Mojica cutting through the left of the Dons’ defence and he provided a tidy finish to level the score.
The visitors were lively and were not afraid to try their luck at goal. When Florez managed to shrug off the presence of Alan Smith he took one look up before firing a 30-yard effort, which David Martin was able to turn around his left post.
At the opposite end Daniel Powell was a handful for the Rayo defence as his pace and power caused all sorts of problems for the Spaniards, but the Dons could not take advantage of the free-kicks which fell in their favour.
Defender Williams was handed the dead ball deliveries and he came close to re-instating the Dons’ lead in the 22nd minute when his tight-angled free-kick forced David Cobeno to punch the effort away.
Vallecano’s passing football was a style which the Dons so often emulate, but rarely come up against. Another fast counter-attack cost the Dons as Juanito fired a low cross into the box and, though initially missed by one Rayo player, Mojica was on hand to turn in his second goal of the match.
As the first half went by the La Liga side saw their dominance in the match increase and the Dons had Martin to thank for keeping them in the match when Raul Baena turned a cheeky back-heel goal-bound, only for the Dons’ goalie to make a superb double save at his near post.
The hosts found their way back into the match in the five minutes before the break when Powell once again caused problems down the right-hand side. Stephen Gleeson spotted the winger’s run and played a neat ball over the top into his path, Powell upped his speed and Rayo ‘keeper Cobeno was caught in no man’s land as he raced out of the box.
Powell kept a cool head as he reached the byline to cut back for Luke Chadwick, who made no mistake as he finished into the back of the net.
After drawing level, the Dons found themselves in front just a minute later when Potter’s excellent ball was met by Banton, who had shown his promising ability in the first half, and the winger turned one way and then the other before sliding his shot beyond the reach of Coben.
Rayo started the second half with the same confidence and dominance which had proved fairly successful in the first half, yet the Dons looked strong in defence with Antony Kay and Williams continuing their solid partnership from last season.
The Dons also looked impressive going forward and some good movement up front allowed Potter to extend the Dons’ lead to 4-2 just before the hour-mark when Smith unselfishly laid off Banton’s cross into the path of Potter. The midfielder had a lot of work to do but managed to weave his way through the box to fire home the fourth for the Dons.
Rayo were given a lifeline in the 70th minute when Potter was penalised for a handball in the area and Gonzalez stepped up for the spot-kick. The Rayo man was confident as he dispatched his penalty to pull the deficit to just one goal.
The Dons management opted to introduce fresh legs with Dele Alli, Ben Reeves, Patrick Bamford and George Baldock all entering the fray. The presence of Bamford up front added a new dimension to the Dons’ game while Alli was a breath of fresh air on the wing.
Baldock showed great determination when he pushed on from his ad-hoc role at right back to turn an excellent ball into the box, unfortunately Reeves was unable to finish the good move with the header turning wide.
Substitute goalkeeper Ian McLoughlin was handed a short run out in the closing 10 minutes and he was called straight into action when Tito’s overlap down the right resulted in a fierce close-range shot, which was well-saved by the Irishman.
As the final whistle sounded, the Dons’ unbeaten run in pre-season remained intact and the side will now turn their attentions to Barnet on Saturday afternoon.
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Martin (McLoughlin 82); Hodson (Baldock 73), Kay (Flanagan 61), Williams, Lewington (c); Potter, Gleeson; Banton (Alli 71), Chadwick (McLeod 82), Powell (Reeves 71); Smith (Bamford 71).
Goals: Lewington 3, Powell 43, Banton 44, Potter 59
Rayo Vallecano: Cobeno, Martinez, Baena, Galvez, Trashorras (c), Rida, Florez, Arbilla, Mojica, Juanito, Perea
Subs: Alberto (GK), Ismael (GK), Tito, Diamanka, Gomez, Saballs, Lass, Gonzalez, Carlos, Isi, Niguez,
Goal: Mojica 11, 27, Gonalez 71 (pen)
Referee: D Whitestone