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Report: Cambridge United 3-1 MK Dons

29 July 2014

Luke Chadwick's Cambridge United came out on top in a testing pre-season friendly for MK Dons at R Costings Abbey Stadium.

Karl Robinson's side, which included 10 changes from the win over Nottingham Forest at the weekend, were beaten 3-1 by the Football League newcomers courtesy of a fine Ryan Donaldson free-kick and brace from Kwesi Appiah. Striker Tom Hitchcock netted the Dons' only goal of the game, his third of pre-season so far.

Just four minutes in, Hitchcock had a decent shout for penalty turned down after the striker appeared to have been tripped by Cambridge’s Josh Coulson inside the box.

Giorgio Rasulo, the man playing behind lone striker Hitchcock, then placed a shot wide of the target from the edge of the area before Cambridge had their first chance of the match in the 17th minute - a free-kick which was deflected wide of the left-hand post.

Three minutes later the hosts were awarded another free-kick and this time they made the most of the opportunity. After Tom Elliot was fouled by Tom Flanagan 25-yards from goal, U’s midfielder Donaldson curled a fine strike beyond Ian McLoughlin and into the top corner to give his side the lead.

Cambridge were then presented with two decent opportunities to add to their advantage but neither Harrison Dunk or Elliot could find the target with their respective close-range efforts.

The Dons, having made a bright start, were being put under some heavy pressure by their Cambridgeshire opponents, who again went close on the half-hour mark when Elliot bent a shot just wide of the post.

Then, in the 32nd minute, the U’s did double their lead through the lively Appiah who, after forcing his way deep inside the Dons box, managed to find the bottom corner of the net with a sweet right-footed strike.

In the aftermath of the goal, Robinson withdrew Antony Kay and replaced him with first-year professional Harry Hickford and just a minute after the change, his side pulled a goal back - Hitchcock the man getting on the scoresheet for the third time this pre-season, converting Rasulo’s strong cross from inside the six-yard box.

However, just when it appeared the Dons had clawed themselves back into the game, Cambridge netted their third goal of the first half courtesy of Appiah, who beat McLoughlin with a superb right-footed curler from distance – his second of the game.

Robinson stuck with the same starting XI for the second half, with important match minutes the priority, and less than 60 seconds after the re-start Randall, captain for the night, went close to finding the bottom corner with a decent effort from the right-hand side of the box.

Cambridge’s Donaldson then produced a strong save out of McLoughlin with a driven shot from 20-yards out which the former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international did well to hold.

After a lengthy stoppage in play due a serious-looking injury to Cambridge’s Elliot near the hour, Robinson introduced Will Grigg, Ben Reeves and Lee Hodson in place of Giorgio Rasulo, Matty Pattison and Gedeon Okito.

The Dons boss also brought on 15-year-old Hugo Logan in the second half - the England Under-17 international, who is still only a schoolboy with the Club, making his first appearance for the first-team.

As with most pre-season friendlies, the match lost its way amongst all the substitutions until Cambridge's Tom Bonner headed Donaldson’s dinked free-kick onto the crossbar in the 79th minute.

Bonner’s chance was then followed by one for Hitchcock, who went close to netting a second with a left-footed shot which he fired narrowly wide of the upright after racing in-behind the U’s defence.

In the dying minutes of the contest, Powell fired over the crossbar after being set-up by Grigg inside the box to round-off a difficult night for the men from MK1.

MK Dons (4-2-3-1): McLoughlin; Baldock, Flanagan (Summerfield 74), Kay (Hickford 32), Okito (Hodson 58); Randall (c), Pattison (Reeves 58); Tilney (Logan 68), Rasulo (Grigg 58), Powell; Hitchcock (Tshimanga 88).

Subs not used: Burns (GK)

Booked: Randall

Goal: Hitchcock 33

Cambridge United (4-4-2): Dunn (Norris 46); Tait (Whittall 70), Champion, Coulson (Hughes 62), Taylor (Hunt 65); Chadwick (Bonner 46), Trialist, Donaldson, Dunk (Austin 84); Elliot (Sam-Yorke 58), Appiah (Cunnington 46).

Subs not used: None.

Goal: Donaldson 20 Appiah 32, 43

Attendance: 951 (113 away)

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