MK Dons Under-23 side began their Central Development League South campaign with a 2-1 win-over their AFC Wimbledon counterparts on Tuesday afternoon.
The men from MK1 had to come from behind to secure the victory, with goals from Ryan Watson and Sam Nombe earning the three points.
Under-23s Manager Edu Rubio named a strong starting XI with a number of first-team players picking up important minutes following the international break.
Ryan Watson, Ousseynou Cisse, Aidan Mitch Hancox were all handed a start, while there were valuable minutes for both Sam Nombe and Brandon Thomas-Asante – the latter making his first appearance after an injury lay-off.
Oran Jackson, Stuart Moore and David Kasumu, who have been involved with Paul Tisdale’s first-team squad this season also took the field from the off.
Elsewhere, Under-18s Matthew Sorinola and Jack Hourican-Harvey completed the starting XI with Alfie Jones, Charlie Pattison, Jay Bird, Jenson Wright and Delsin Ackom completing the matchday squad.
After a nervy start where both sides struggled to adjust to the pitch, it was the hosts who took an early lead. They worked the ball well in the middle of the park and were patient in their approach. Eventually, a well-timed run from an AFC Wimbledon midfielder was found before he calmly slotted into the back of the net. 1-0.
The goal really kick-started the game into action and after conceding, Rubio’s side started to come alive. Watson came close to levelling the scoring just minutes after, as his shot from just inside the box went narrowly over.
Nesbitt was next to try his luck with the forward having two shots blocked and another saved within seconds of each other.
On 17 minutes, Watson had his second chance of the game with MK Dons creating the opening in superb fashion. Having kept the ball within the final third for an extended period of time, Nombe found Watson who used his pace to excel past three AFC Wimbledon defenders – his shot grazed the post on its way wide.
Watson, who at this stage was controlling things in the middle of the park, then came within inches of equalising. It was once again Nombe who helped create the chance for the midfielder as he found himself with space on the right after collecting Sorinola’s lofted pass. Nombe picked out Watson inside the box who had his effort hit the bar.
Watson was finally rewarded for his impressive first-half performance on 35 minutes when the former Barnet man levelled things up – and yet again Nombe was involved. The Academy graduate held up possession in the final third before picking out the unmarked Watson on the edge of the box. His shot cannoned off the crossbar and into the back of the net. 1-1.
With Rubio’s side unchanged at the break, it was Stuart Moore who was called into action earliest in the second half. He produced a stunning acrobatic save to tip over a shot that was destined for the top corner.
Nombe soon found his groove once more in the second half and could have put MK Dons ahead but he was unable to get the ball under control and had his shot blocked from the edge of the box.
With just over an hour on the clock, Watson and Cisse were replaced by Wright and Pattison respectively with Nombe, Thomas-Asante and Nesbitt shifting to a three up top. The formation chance caused the AFC Wimbledon defenders problems with Thomas-Asante firing over from six yards.
An injury to an AFC Wimbledon midfielder derailed the high tempo feel to the game, but with 10 minutes left Nesbitt fired over from Bird’s floated cross.
The match was then won right at the death by Nombe – who more than deserved his goal. He held off his marker for the best part of 20-yards before slotting past the AFC Wimbledon keeper. 1-2.
Starting XI: Moore, Sorinola, Hancox, Kasumu, Hourican-Harvey, Jackson (C), Nombe, Cisse (Pattison 62), Thomas-Asante (Bird 80), Nesbitt, Watson (Wright 62).
Unused Subs: Jones, Ackom.
Goals: Watson (35), Nombe (87).