Edu Rubio was pleased with many aspects of Monday’s Central League Opener against Southend United.
MK Dons’ Under-23s side began their season with a 5-4 victory over the Shrimpers at Stadium MK, with four of their five goals coming in a dominant first half.
There were other positives too, with Chuks Aneke making a goalscoring return to match action after six months on the sidelines as well as several other first-team players getting important minutes under their belts alongside a handful of young Dons.
“The score didn’t go the way we wanted, given what we saw in the first-half, but a win is a win and that’s what we set out for,” Rubio said afterwards.
“It also fit the purpose of giving minutes to Chuks (Aneke) and some other first-team players - the Under-23s is a reserve team and it’s an opportunity for those first-team players who don’t have enough minutes, to get those minutes.
“The game also created a mentoring programme for those Under-23s and Under-18s who were able to experience that game alongside first-team players.”
Despite the many positives, it will be Aneke’s return which will garner most of the attention and rightly so for one of the Dons' key players – Rubio had plenty of praise for Aneke’s efforts both on and off the pitch.
“I was very impressed. It wasn’t just the 25 minutes that he played and the goal that he scored but also his professional behaviour in the changing room and the way he helped the younger players - it was a delight to have him the squad.”
Monday was the first of 15 matches the Under-23s will play this season and coach Rubio believes the team will only improve as the schedule progresses.
“Coming into today’s game, it was more a group of players than a team. Now we’ve got that first game under our belts and a couple of training sessions, I think we can now start operating as a team.
“The goals we conceded you could clearly see they were because we hadn’t had a chance to work as a team yet. There are loads of quality players there who know to manage a game but they haven’t played together and that’s probably why we got exposed.
“What we need to focus on is creating a more team-essence so we are little bit tighter from set-pieces and more aware of how to operate as a back four.”