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Young Dons impress in friendly

26 October 2016

A youthful MK Dons faced a strong Oxford United outfit in a development friendly on Wednesday lunchtime, where visitors came out on top in an entertaining five-goal thriller.

Oxford’s side included a number of first-team players including Ryan Taylor, Alex MacDonald, Aaron Martin, Kane Hemmings and former Dons loanee Rob Hall, while Mike Dove opted for a team featuring predominantly young professionals with the exception of Lee Nicholls and George C Williams as well as scholars Finn Tapp and Andrew Osei-Bonsu.

One of those young Dons pros, Kabongo Tshimanga, scored twice in the clash at Woughton but it wasn’t enough to defeat the U’s, who ran-out 3-2 victors.

Tuesday’s visitors opened the scoring after just 40 seconds but the Dons responded soon after and went on to enjoy several good chances, including a Williams header which fell just wide of the post.

They pulled themselves back on level terms in the 23rd minute when Tshimanga stuck out a right leg to stab Brandon Thomas-Asante’s cross past Benjamin Buchel in the Oxford goal.

The U’s were denied an instant equaliser courtesy of Nicholls’ fantastic save from Hall’s shot but the visitors did manage to edge back in front through striker Taylor, who rifled into the top left-hand corner after the Dons failed to clear in the area.

Nicholls prevent Oxford from doubling their advantage before half-time when he produced a stunning double save to thwart Hemmings and then Taylor.

At the other end, Williams had a chance to equalise for the Dons before the interval but he couldn’t keep his free-kick from rising over the crossbar.

Following the re-start, the Dons went agonisingly close to restoring parity but Giorgio Rasulo didn’t make proper contact on Ben Tilney’s cross.

Seven minutes after that chance, the U’s extended their advantage to 3-1 when MacDonald fired across goal with a neat finish.

Despite falling behind two goals, the Dons remained positive in their play and they arguably should have had the opportunity to close the gap on the hour mark after Tshimanga appeared to be brought down by Buchel after rounding the Liechtenstein international – the referee, however, waved away appeals for a penalty.

Dove’s side continued to push forward and they tallied a deserved second goal in the 67th minute courtesy of another close-range finish from Tshimanga, this time from Callum Brittain’s cross.

The Dons did have opportunities to equalise late on, the best chance falling to Williams, who looked for all the world to have found the far corner with a right-footed shot only for a defender to get back and block.

With the result of little importance in games like this, however, Dove and the first-team contingent watching from the sidelines will all be pleased with young side’s performance against a strong Oxford outfit.

Starting XI: Nicholls; Brittain, Tapp, Jackson (Omar 81), Tilney; Osei-Bonsu (Logan 71); Furlong, Thomas-Asante (Kioso 78); Rasulo; GC Williams, Tshimanga.

Unused subs: Burns, Nombe, Trialist.

Goals: Tshimanga (23, 67)

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