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Report: St. James's Gate 1-9 MK Dons

11 July 2016

MK Dons kicked-off their pre-season campaign with a routine victory in Dublin.

The men from MK1 beat Leinster Senior League side St. James's Gate 9-1 in their annual friendly at the Iveagh Grounds, on a night where, most importantly, the majority of the squad gained their first match-minutes of the summer.

Karl Robinson split his squad in two, with the aim to give every member of his travelling party some game time. The only exceptions were David Martin and Dean Bowditch, who were both rested after picking up knocks in training.

The first-half XI included a number of established first-team players, but it was a pair of young Dons who went close to opening the scoring early on.

Giorgio Rasulo, who spent the final months of last season on loan at Aldershot Town, forced the St. James’s Gate keeper into his first save just three minutes in. The rebound fell for second-year scholar Sam Nombe but he couldn’t capitalise.

The Dons maintained the pressure and six minutes later made an inevitable breakthrough courtesy of returning Academy graduate George Williams who, after finding himself in an advanced position because of a corner, headed in at the far post from Ed Upson’s lofted pass. 1-0.

It was nothing more than Robinson’s men deserved and, not long after the opener, their positive start was rewarded with a second goal when Ben Reeves found the net direct from a free-kick, 10 yards outside the penalty area. 2-0.

Reeves followed his goal up with a long-range effort which fell just wide, before Rasulo extended the Dons’ lead further with a neat finish following some good work from second-year scholar Hugo Logan. 3-0.

St. James’s Gate, to their credit, didn’t let the early three-goal deficit affect them and within six minutes they pulled one back from the penalty spot after young David Kasumu was adjudged to have fouled Tony Griffiths. 3-1.

Their joy, however, was short-lived as Joe Walsh restored the advantage with a towering header from Reeves’ out-swinging corner just two minutes later - the centre-back climbed above the home goalkeeper to nod in his first goal of the summer. 4-1.

On 33 minutes, Reeves had the opportunity to double his tally with a penalty after being tripped in the box but his effort was saved.

He would, though, bag a second eight minutes before the interval with an excellent finish from the right-hand corner of the box. 5-1.

That’s how the scores remained until the break, leaving the second-half XI with plenty to do to better their goal tally from the first 45.

They did make a positive start, with Samir Carruthers dragging a shot wide within 15 seconds of the hosts’ re-starting the friendly.

Carruthers then almost turned provider after his superb ball found Nicky Maynard in the area, however the striker’s header, after beating the keeper, landed on the roof of the net.

In total it took five minutes for the second-half XI to add to the scoring and when it came, it came courtesy of one of the youngest players on the pitch in Brandon Thomas-Asante, who did well to find the net from such a tight angle. 6-1.

The excellent playing surface at the Iveagh Grounds allowed the men from MK1 to display their exciting style of football in front of a decent crowd in Crumlin - a handful of Dons supporters, from both the UK and Ireland, were in attendance, along with many locals who turned out in their numbers.

Those who had come out to watch Robinson’s side, in particular, were treated to a seventh goal in the 67th minute when Maynard turned home after pouncing onto a Tom Hitchcock effort which crashed against the crossbar. 7-1.

The goals kept coming as the second group chased down their predecessors five-goal haul.

On 80 minutes, Tom Hitchcock turned in a low cross from Ben Tilney, who had been threatening all half with his excellent balls into the box. 8-1.

Carruthers then joined in on the act three minutes later, drilling a shot under the hosts’ stopper after finding himself in space inside the box. 9-1.

They almost bagged a fifth goal in stoppage time but Thomas-Asante just strayed offside before tapping in Maynard’s pass.

Therefore the scores remained at 9-1 - a comfortable success for the men from MK1, in an impressive first outing of the summer.

First-half starting XI: Burns; Williams, Kasumu, Walsh, Lewington; Rasulo, Upson; Powell, Reeves, Logan; Nombe.

Second-half starting XI: Burns; Baldock, Downing, Jackson, Tilney; Potter, Carruthers; Furlong, Hitchcock, Thomas-Asante; Maynard.

Goals: Williams (9), Reeves (13, 37), Rasulo (20), Walsh (28), Thomas-Asante (50), Maynard (67), Hitchcock (80), Carruthers (83)

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