Kabongo Tshimanga scored a hat-trick and Aaran Weston struck a late winner as an MK Dons XI beat Buckingham Athletic 4-3 on Saturday afternoon.
Mike Dove’s side, on a scorching hot afternoon, didn’t appear to be fazed by their older opposition from the Spartan South Midlands League and were able to twice fight back from behind to claim victory in their first outing of the 2014/15 season.
The Dons’ starting line-up included a mix of first and second-year scholars, all of whom eager to impress Director of Youth Dove and his new assistant David Oldfield ahead of the new campaign.
Despite a bright start from the young Dons, it was Buckingham who took the lead when a long ball forward after only two minutes caused confusion at the back, which allowed striker Woodfine the simplest of finishes past trialist keeper Tom Wyant.
Wyant was then called into action for a second time just a few minutes later, this time the 16-year-old was able to prevent his goal being breached with a superb point-blank stop to deny a James Brown header.
Although a goal down, the Dons were still looking the better of the two teams and they went close through Jacob Daffern in the 14th minute but his right-footed shot flew wide of the post.
Second-year scholar Tshimanga then had a goal disallowed for the offside by the assistant referee before, moments later, he set-up Kyran Wiltshire whose shot blocked behind for a corner.
In the 28th minute, the Dons did eventually find an equaliser courtesy of Tshimanga, who found the bottom corner of the net with a sweet right-footed strike from the edge of the area.
It was nothing less than Dove’s side deserved for their dominance, and they came agonisingly close to taking a lead into the half-time when Joe Steele forced the Athletic keeper into a fine save with a fierce shot.
Dove made four substitutions at the start of the second half, including Under-16s duo Juma Omar and Oran Jackson, the latter of which captained a young Dons side which played in the Gwen and Jim Challenge Match at stadiummk back in May.
However, before the replacements could properly adjust to the game, Athletic had taken the lead for a second time through Luke Tavener’s calm finish following a rebound off the upright.
The young Dons weren’t to be deterred, though, and they continued to impress the hundreds in attendance with the neat and fluent style of football which is often played by the first team at stadiummk.
In the 55th minute, they found their second equaliser of the game and it was Tshimanga again who scored it – this time shrugging off two Buckingham defenders before slotting past the goalkeeper.
The first-year scholar, who finished as the Under-18s' top goalscorer last season, looked dangerous throughout his time on the pitch and he completed a fine hat-trick just three minutes later, showing great skill and composure to round the goalkeeper and finish into the top corner.
Tshimanga did have one more chance, before he was replaced, to add to his tally on the hour-mark but this time he lacked the touch to beat the on-rushing Athletic stopper when played through one-on-one.
As part of the players’ fitness programme, Dove brought off those who had started the match and in their place introduced five more Under-16s players, and they continued the good work of their predecessors as the Dons looked to see out the victory.
Buckingham, however, continued to provide difficult opposition and much to the delight of the home crowd they grabbed themselves a leveller in the 80th minute through their winger Brown.
It was to be the Dons’ day, though, and with just two minutes remaining second-year Weston received the ball on the edge of the area and fired an unstoppable curling effort into the far corner to win the game for the visitors.
All in all, it was an excellent run-out for Dove and his team, who now switch their focus to a friendly against St. Neots Town on Wednesday evening.
MK Dons XI (4-2-3-1): Wyant (GK), Daffern (Kioso 61), Hunt (Jackson 46), Steele (Omar 46), Okito (c) (Tingey 30); Wiltshire (Osei-Bonsu 61), Brittain (Weston 46); Vaughan (Kiwewesi 61), Furlong (Hadden 46), Tilney (Thomas-Asante 61); Tshimanga (Nombe 61).
Sub not used: Taylor (GK)