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More valuable minutes for Dons

16 July 2016

Several first-team players got valuable minutes under the belts during MK Dons’ two friendlies on Saturday afternoon.

George Baldock, Paul Downing and Samir Carruthers were among those who featured for 70 minutes against Cambridge City, while Dean Lewington, George Williams, Joe Walsh, Ed Upson and Ben Reeves all completed an hour and 10 minutes against St. Ives Town.

A host of young pros and scholars also played a part and while both teams dominated their respective opponents, neither were able to find victory – the first side were beaten 3-0 by City, while the latter drew 1-1 with St. Ives Town.

George Baldock donned the captain’s armband in the first game and saw plenty of the ball early on and his second-minute cross almost led to an early goal for the in-form Brandon Thomas-Asante but he was just beaten to it by a Cambridge defender.

Thomas-Asante, who led the scoring charts in Ireland with three goals to his name, had another opportunity to add to his tally on the quarter-hour mark with a curling effort from the edge of the box which was well saved by City keeper Enol Ordonez.

That came after Ordonez pulled off an impressive reaction stop to deny Tom Hitchcock from close range, after the striker had collected Ben Tilney’s cross.

After the half-hour mark, Ordonez produced two more fantastic saves to prevent Carruthers and then Hitchcock from breaking the deadlock.

The Dons had two final chance to open the scoring before half-time, first through Furlong, who sent an effort wide from the edge of the box and then, in stoppage time, Thomas-Asante, whose turn and shot was saved by Ordonez.

Robinson’s side probably deserved to lead at the interval but just two minutes into the second period, after a free-kick was given away 30-yards from goal, they found themselves behind to a David Femiola looping header which Burns couldn’t keep out. 1-0.

Carruthers then had a free-kick blocked by the wall as the Dons pushed for an equaliser, before City doubled their advantage with a goal from Charlie Woolfe’s neat finish. 2-0.

With 20 minutes to go, Robinson then made his planned eight changes and the substitutes brought on were made up of players from the Under-18s and Under-16s sides

Cambridge managed to extend their advantage in the 81st minute through substitute Connor Loker’s lobbed finish but with the result of little importance, the most important thing for Robinson and his staff was seeing his senior pros make it through the match unscathed.

Later in the day, a Dons XI took on St. Ives Town and Robinson included five senior pros in his starting XI, four of which occupied places in the back six - Dean Lewington, Joe Walsh, as well as new signings George Williams and Ed Upson.

The Dons took the lead after just 12 minutes when Upson stepped up to take the free-kick, after a foul on second-year scholar Peter Kioso – the midfielder couldn’t have placed his effort any better  as he found right into the top left-hand corner to give his team the lead. 0-1.

That advantage, though, wouldn’t last long as just two minutes later the hosts drew level courtesy of Jack Higgs, who found the net in similar fashion to Upson, direct from a free-kick. 1-1.

Robinson’s men went close to re-taking the lead on 38 minutes when Kioso forced goalkeeper Tim Trebes into a save at his near post, after finding his way deep into the Town box.

From the resulting corner, Sam Nombe put a diving header over the bar after Walsh had done well to keep the cross in play at the far post.

The Dons’ best chance add a second goal in the first half came just 60 seconds before the whistle when Upson latched onto Lewington’s excellent cross, however the midfielder couldn’t keep his header on target.

After the re-start, Nombe produced a save out of Tribes with a shot from the edge of the box.

The Dons then went close to scrambling home a second goal from a Reeves corner, before Kioso curled an effort just wide of the upright.

Neither side, however, were able to add to their tally, ensuring the shares were spoiled in the final match at the ProEdge Stadium.

Just like in the first friendly, all those involved came off injury-free – the positive for Robinson, who takes his side to Corby Town on Tuesday evening.

Starting XI vs Cambridge City: Burns (Pickworth 69); Baldock (Stratton 69), Downing (Kioso 69), Jackson (Tapp 69), Tilney (Hope 69); Osei-Bonsu, Carruthers (Bonsu); Furlong, Bell (Evans 69), Thomas-Asante; Hitchcock (Philpott 69).

Subs not used vs Cambridge City: Jones (GK), Robinson, Omar, Kasumu, Logan, Nombe.

Starting XI vs St. Ives Town: Burns (Pickworth 72); Williams (Robinson 72), Kasumu (Omar 72), Walsh (Tapp 72), Lewington (Hope 72); Upson (Bell 72), Rasulo; Kioso (Evans 72), Reeves (Bonsu 72), Logan; Nombe.

Subs not used vs St. Ives Town: Jones (GK), Stratton, Philpott.

Goal: Upson (14)

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