Both Connor Furlong and Ben Tilney were in action for MK Dons Under-23s after being recalled respective loan spells as Edu Rubio’s side drew 1-1 with Southend United.
Brandon Thomas-Asante opened the scoring for the Dons after his mazy run ended in the forward finding the back of the net.
However, the lead lasted just two minutes, as Amadou Ba converted from close range to ensure both sides shared the points on Monday afternoon.
It was Southend who adapted quicker to the windy conditions and boggy surface as they went close twice within the opening minutes of the game. Firstly, Renei Batlokwa fired narrowly wide from Jermaine McGlashan’s cross before the same man was denied by Wieger Sietsma.
Staring at right-back, Callum Brittain was eager to attack down his flank and combined well with Thomas-Asante to create the Dons’ first shot on goal. After beating his marker Brittain found Thomas-Asante who had the sting taken out of his shot via a Southend block.
The frantic opening of the game continued as Ba picked up the ball on the edge 20-yards from goal, winning a corner for his side via a Giorgio Rasulo deflection. After playing the corner short McGlashan won a free-kick and after dusting himself off, the winger forced Sietsma to tip onto his crossbar before Ben Tilney cleared the danger.
It was that man Tilney who had the next Dons chance, the left-back drove forwards and after a clever give-and-go with Thomas-Asante, Tilney’s shot was well saved by Bexon.
Seconds later, Nesbitt threaded in Muirhead, however, the striker couldn’t get enough power behind his shot.
Rubio’s side didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal of the game, however, as Thomas-Asante jinxed his way past a handful of Southend defenders before firing home from the edge of the box on 28-minutes. 0-1.
The joy was short-lived, as just two minutes later, McGlashan’s shot rebounded off the post before Ba was in the right place at the right time to prod home past a grounded Siestsma. 1-1.
Nesbitt was once again in the thick of the action on 37-minutes as the winger played a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Muirhead. The Scottish striker was pressured into putting his shot wide by the recovering Southend defender.
The Dons started the second-half as they finished the first - in control. Muirhead was yet again denied by Bexon from just inside the box with 58-minutes on the clock.
In truth, the second-half lacked any real chance on goal with Thomas-Asante and Ba went closest for their sides.
With seven minutes left to play, Barlokwa’s free-kick found the feet of Ba, however, he was denied his second goal of the game by a stunning save from Siestma.
Siestma ensured Dons came away with a point as with just seconds remaining he tipped Ba’s shot onto the woodwork before the ball rolled along the goal line and out of play.
Speaking to mkdons.com following the full-time whistle, Rubio expressed his joy after his sides impressive display, “I’m delighted with the performance because ultimately it’s about having a competitive game.” Rubio said.
“I think that game was a very real experience, I think most of the game we played eye-catching football and when we needed to adapt to the pitch and situation - we did.
“I thought the boys were excellent today, they stuck to our values and they were competitive - scoreline aside, I’m really happy.”
Starting XI: Sietsma; Tilney, Jackson (C), Tapp, Brittain; Rasulo, Logan; Nombe, Nesbitt, Thomas-Asante; Muirhead.
Subs: Furlong, Bell, Pattison, Sole.
Goals: Thomas-Asante (28).