The Dons kicked-off their pre-season campaign with a convincing 4-0 victory over St. James’s Gate in Dublin.
The men from MK1’s dominance continued after the re-start and Dean Lewington was able add a fourth from a free-kick.
Robinson’s first starting XI of the summer included only one new signing in the form of goalkeeper Cody Cropper. The side also included former Ipswich Town and Crystal Palace midfielder Owen Garvan, who has been training with the Dons throughout their time in Dublin.
The men from MK1 made a bright start and tested the goal inside the opening two minutes when Rasulo, playing in the number 10 role behind Hitchcock, looped a volley on to the top of the crossbar from Carl Baker’s cross.
Baker was able to get another ball into the box just a few seconds later and this one resulted with Hitchcock forcing the ball home to open both his and the Dons’ account for the summer. 1-0
The Dons continued to control proceedings, with Baker and Hodson looking particularly threatening down the right – the pair peppering the St. James’s Gate box with crosses which were just about being dealt with by the defenders.
Robinson’s men were also threatening through the middle and some excellent interplay between Hitchcock, Samir Carruthers and Dean Bowditch resulted in a chance for the latter but his curling shot hit the outside of the post.
Eventually, though, the pressure told once again when Baker’s whipped from the right was met by Rasulo at the far post on 32 minutes. The 18-year-old took a touch on his chest to bring the ball under control before cooly finishing past the keeper. 2-0
Rasulo almost added a second several minutes later but, after fooling his marker on the edge, his curling effort struck the woodwork. The loose ball fell for the highly-impressive Baker but he saw a shot deflected wide.
Last season’s Player of the Year continued to get involved in most of the Dons’ attacking plays and just before half-time he played a part in a third goal. The winger picked out Bowditch with a cross and the Dons’ number nine was able to tee up Rasulo, who fired home his second of the evening. 3-0
As part of the team’s pre-season fitness plan, Robinson’s side changed entirely at the break, meaning first appearances in a Dons shirt for Simon Church, as well as Joe Walsh and Dale Jennings as permanent players.
Church, a summer signing from Charlton Athletic, was involved right from the start in the lone striker role, teeing up Ben Reeves after beating his marker on the edge of the box – Reeves’ shot, however, was blocked.
First-year professional Kabongo Tshimanga then went close to adding a fourth from a Reeves corner on 53 minutes, before the midfielder himself testing the St. James’s Gate keeper with an effort from 25-yards.
Eventually, on the 70 minute mark, the fourth Dons goal did arrive and it came courtesy of the left boot of captain Lewington who, just as he did on that unforgettable afternoon in May, found the net from a 25-yard free-kick – this one, though, ended up in the opposite corner. 4-0
In the closing stages of the contest, the Dons went close to adding to their tally. First, Reeves bent a shot wide of the post from 25-yards before both Tshimanga and Church had shots blocked by the keeper in quick succession.
The score remained at 4-0 as the full-time whistle sounded, however – a very positive showing from Robinson’s men, who travel to Limerick on Tuesday.
First half starting XI: Cropper; Hodson, McFadzean, Kay, Tilney; Garvan, Carruthers; Baker, Rasulo, Bowditch; Hitchcock.
Second half starting XI: Burns; Spence, Flanagan, Walsh, Lewington; Hickford (Potter 61), Reeves; Powell, Tshimanga, Jennings; Church.
Subs not used: Martin.
Goals: Hitchcock 3 Rasulo 32, 45 Lewington 69