Nicky Maynard got on the scoresheet and Callum Brittain bagged a brace as MK Dons Under-21s beat their Stevenage counterparts 5-1 on Tuesday lunchtime.
Director of Youth Mike Dove named a strong starting XI which featured a number of first-team players including Lee Nicholls, Samir Carruthers, George C Williams and Maynard.
The latter of those, Maynard, was one of several senior pros who requested to play in the match and the striker got himself on the scoresheet just 55 seconds in, racing onto a Carruthers’ through-pass before rounding goalkeeper Callum Preston and finishing cooly. 0-1.
Stevenage, though, drew level just four minutes later courtesy of a neat finish across goal from their trialist forward. 1-1.
On 15 minutes, Maynard - in search of his second goal - produced a strong stop out of Preston with a fierce strike. GC Williams then went even closer to re-establishing the Dons’ lead soon after but his superb curling effort was kept out by a fantastic diving save.
Connor Furlong was the next Don to go close with a low drive from outside the area before Brittain put his side back in front on 21 minutes - the right-back raced onto Giorgio Rasulo’s pass and showed great strength to hold off his man and find the net. 1-2.
The Dons were good value for their lead, with the most experienced player on the pitch, Maynard, looking lovely up front. He went agonisingly close to completing a brace just inside of the half-hour mark but his shot across goal was kept out by a strong right hand from Preston.
Furlong’s ambitious effort from distance was saved on 35 minutes as Dove’s side went in search of a third goal to extend their lead before the interval. Carruthers also had a couple of chances to find the net but the scores remained as they were at the half-time whistle.
Dove’s Dons maintained their dominance at the start of the second period and they grabbed a crucial third goal just six minutes in through Tilney, who collected Jack Hendry’s pass and finished sent a left-footed strike across the Stevenage keeper into the far corner. 1-3.
Tilney almost went from scorer to provider in the Dons’ next attack but his cross was just an inch in front of Maynard’s outstretched right leg. GC Williams then produced a stunning save out of Stevenage’s Preston with a rifled drive from 25 yards.
Although the scoreline didn’t suggest it, Preston was having an inspired performance in the Boro goal but there was nothing he could do to prevent Brittain scoring his second goal of the afternoon on 61 minutes - the right-back’s curling left-footed effort had too much power on it for the Boro keeper to keep out. 1-4.
In the aftermath of the goal, Maynard was replaced by Dove - boss Karl Robinson, who was in attendance at Bradbury End, would have been pleased with his striker’s hour-long performance, as well as his well-taken goal.
Maynard’s replacement was Kabongo Tshimanga and he was mighty close to grabbing an instant goal, however, his strong shot was just kept out by Preston.
With most of the action taking place in front of the Stevenage goal, Nicholls found himself as more spectator throughout the game. He did, though, have to be alert to keep out Rowan Liburd’s close-range header on 67 minutes.
As the game wore on, the hosts began to tire but the Dons maintained their high intensity as they searched for even more goal-scoring opportunities. In the 73rd minute, they added a fifth to the scoreline with arguably the move of the game.
Tshimanga collected the ball midway inside the Boro half before playing through Tilney, who returned the ball to his team-mate with a neat back-hell. Tshimanga then held off his man inside the area before creating room for a shot which he squeezed underneath Boro's keeper Preston. 1-5.
Carruthers was one of three players withdrew in the final 10 minutes with the result secured. He was replaced by second-year scholar Andrew Osei-Bonsu, who forced a save out of Preston late on with the game's final chance.
Starting XI: Nicholls; Brittain, Hendry, Jackson, G B Williams; Rasulo, Carruthers (Osei-Bonsu 79); G C Williams, Furlong (Logan 79), Tilney (Thomas-Asante 79); Maynard (Tshimanga 61).
Unused subs: Burns.
Goals: Maynard (1), Brittain (21, 61), Tilney (52), Tshimanga (73).