The Dons' 2015/16 pre-season campaign drew to a close with a friendly against a Chelsea XI at stadiummk.
Despite taking the lead through Tom Hitchcock, the men from MK1 fell to a 2-1 defeat. The main focus, however, was handing match minutes to several members of the first-team as well as providing a first chance for some of the Dons' youngest stars to feature with the first-team at stadiummk - the Dons ended with six Under-18s players having featured.
The Dons’ XI included several first-team players who will be vying for a place in Saturday’s starting line-up at Rotherham United. Also in the side were apprentices Dominica Palmiero and Connor Furlong, along with a trialist at right-back.
Both sides made a tentative start, with nothing in the way of chances until the seventh minute when the trialist made an impressive run through the middle of the park, however, from the edge of the area, he failed to beat Mitchell Beeney.
Jeremie Boga then fired off target for Chelsea despite being afforded plenty of time 18-yards from goal. His team-mate John Swift then saw a free-kick comfortably saved by Cropper, making his first start at stadiummk.
The American goalkeeper continued to impress, first tipping a deflected effort from Oriol Romeu over the bar before pulling off a super diving stop to prevent Boga’s long-ranger from finding the top corner.
Although it was the visitors who were boasting more shots on goal, the Dons were arguably shading the possession stats and that dominance told just before the half-hour mark when Hitchcock put them in front. The striker was in the right place at the right time to collect Kabongo Tshimanga’s parried effort and he drilled a low shot through a crowd of players into the bottom right corner. 1-0.
The Dons’ lead, however, lasted just under 10 minutes as with the next chance of the game, Chelsea pulled level. After forcing their way into the penalty area, the Blues forced Cropper into a good save but the loose ball fell kindly for defender Nathan Ake to tap in from a yard out. 1-1.
Robinson made two changes at half-time, replacing Church and the trialist with Academy duo Jack Hadden and Adam Hunt. The two substitutes forced a re-shuffle in the pack, with Hitchcock moving up front on his own and Rasulo pushing forward into the number 10 role.
It was Rasulo who had the first shooting chance of the second period on 50 minutes – a right-footed curler from just inside the box which wasn’t too far away from finding the top corner.
Five minutes later, though, Chelsea took the lead courtesy of substitute Tammy Abraham, who met Ake’s cross at the near post and powered a header past Cropper. 1-2.
Two more Dons substitutes were made in the aftermath of the goal – first-year scholars Sam Nombe and Andrew Osei-Bonsu coming on to replace their Under-18s teammates Connor Furlong and Dom Palmiero, who both flashed in their first stadiummk appearances with the first-team.
The Dons and Chelsea enjoyed spells of possession during a second half which was disrubted by a number of substitutions made by the latter.
Both teams also had chances to add to the scoreline, with the men from MK1 going closest to finding an equaliser in the 82nd minute when both Tshimanga and Harry Hickford were denied - the former saw an effort saved when one-on-one before the latter had a header on the rebound blocked.
STARTING XI: Cropper (Burns 81); A Trialist (Hunt 46), McFadzean (Flanagan 37), Hickford, Tilney (Steele 90); Rasulo (Jackson 88), Palmiero (Osei-Bonsu 56); Tshimanga, Hitchcock (Owusu 88), Furlong (Nombe 56); Church (Hadden 46).
UNUSED SUBS: None.
GOAL: Hitchcock 28