A host of first team players brushed off the cobwebs in a behind-closed-doors match against a Fulham Under-21s side on Tuesday afternoon.
The Dons’ match against Oldham Athletic last weekend was postponed due to the Latics’ international call-ups so the men from MK1 travelled to Fulham’s training ground to get important match minutes under their belts ahead of Saturday’s match against Bradford City.
In the end Karl Robinson’s side provided a strong test for the Cottagers with the Premier League side’s XI running out 2-1 winners.
Izale McLeod got the Dons’ only goal just before half-time to rule out Moussa Dembele’s early opener, but a late strike from Mesca sealed the victory for Fulham, in a fiercely contested friendly at Motspur Park.
Among the starters for the Dons were the likes of Dean Lewington, Darren Potter, Stephen Gleeson and Daniel Powell. The game also provided a chance for McLeod and Alan Smith to get a good run out.
But the name Dons fans would have arguably been pleased to see the most on the team-sheet was Dele Alli, who has been out of action since September with an ankle injury.
The young midfielder, who was allowed leave by England Under-18s to play in the game, was lively throughout the first half and showed no signs of any lingering issues ahead of the weekend.
Despite a strong start from the Dons, Fulham opened the scoring after four minutes courtesy of the highly-rated Dembele, who headed a teasing cross past Ian McLoughlin at the near post.
Winger Powell then saw an effort ruled out for offside before the impressive Alli curled a shot just over the bar.
On 23 minutes, the Dons had a decent penalty shout turned down – McLeod the man bundled to the ground inside the box – while Fulham threatened at the other end with a free-kick which struck the crossbar.
Gleeson also found the woodwork with a long-range effort soon after, before McLeod fired in an equaliser with four minutes to go in the half.
The Club’s all-time leading goalscorer, getting the start up front with Bamford away on international duty, controlled Potter’s through-ball brilliantly before striking a sweet left-footed shot across the Fulham ‘keeper and into the bottom corner.
With one eye on the weekend, Robinson opted to rest midfield duo Alli and Gleeson early in the second half, with Potter and Spence also being withdrawn not long after. Coming on place of the trio were Jason Banton, Jon Otsemobor and Tom Flanagan, the latter two able to get valuable game time having not featured for the first team in recent weeks.
Also introduced in the second half were Under-18s duo Harry Hickford and Will Summerfield, watched on by their former team-mate and now Fulham youngster George Williams, in the stands.
As a quiet second half drew to a close, both teams had chances to find a winner – the Dons’ effort coming courtesy of Banton, who failed to hit the target after twisting and turning deep inside the Fulham box.
Then, in the 88th minute, Fulham’s Guinean striker Mesca struck the decisive blow with the outside of his right-foot after being given far too much space on the edge of the six-yard box.
The result though was not the aim of this game; instead Robinson will have been pleased to see his players back in action.
MK Dons: McLoughlin; Hodson (Otsemobor 76), Spence (Flanagan 72), Williams (Hickford 81), Lewington (Summerfield 81); Potter (Baldock 61), Gleeson (Reeves 53); Powell, Smith, Alli (Banton 46); McLeod.
Subs not used: Burns (GK)