A crowd of 3,231 watched on as MK Dons U15s went head to head with Manchester United in the Gwen & Jim Mann Academy Challenge Match, sponsored by Kingship Logistics.
Dons’ striker James Holmes almost raced through on to a ball over the top while, at the other end as Anthony Elanga headed wide from close range.
Shortly afterwards, captain Louis Blair fired over from distance before Ollie Leach got back brilliantly to deny Mason Greenwood as United threatened on the counter attack.
Both sides then went close to openers – firstly, John Freeman volleyed inches wide of the far post before some fancy footwork presented a shooting chance for Greenwood, who fired over.
Greenwood again went close, as did Elanga not long afterwards - this came after Freeman had made another purposeful run but couldn’t quite get enough contact on the cross.
The Dons were forced to do some defending as United pushed for an opener but they held firm, which included a fine save from George Rose.
Greenwood continued to offer United’s main threat but Rose was again up to the task, gathering the striker’s low drive 10 minutes into the second half.
Freeman was looking the most likely to score for the Dons and a great chance presented itself but he dragged his effort just past the right-hand post.
However, it was United who went in front on 55 minutes when Kyle Wych tapped home from close range at the back post after Greenwood had flicked on a left-wing cross.
That didn’t deter the Dons, who were showing superb spirit – emphasised by Leach’s powerful run from defence as he aimed to start an attack.
Higgs’ side almost reduced the arrears with 63 minutes on the clock but Jacob Carney somehow kept out Holmes’ powerful header before pouncing on the rebound.
United made sure of the victory with five minutes remaining when captain Mengi broke through and fired into the bottom corner – his second of the game.
The result wasn’t in the Dons’ favour, however, the experience as a whole will stand the players in good stead as they continue their development.
MK Dons: Rose (Gough 76); Robinson, Sule, Leach, Brennan (Black 77); Blair, Davies, Freeman; Jackson (Rowley 56), Williamson (Hamilton 53), Holmes.
Unused subs: Rogers, Deall.