Diamonds went down 4-0 to a very good MK Dons side on Tuesday night in the latest pre-season friendly.
League One MK Dons scored twice in each half with Josh McEachran converting a 23rd minute penalty and Dan Kemp finishing in style on 38 minutes. Connor Furlong got in behind MK Dons a number of times and Patrick Casey came close to a connecting with a right wing corner in Diamonds best first half moments.
Nathan Tshikuna hit a fierce 30 yard free-kick as Diamonds improved as an attacking force early in the second half and was through one-on-one on 60 minutes only to be denied by the keeper. Just 5 minutes later MK Dons added their third with a superb Nathan Holland strike and they dominated the last 20 minutes but only had Ethan Robson’s excellent 89th minute strike to show for it.
Andy Burgess had three trialists in his starting line-up with two named previous trialists Evan and Courtney Lashley and they were alongside Dean Snedker, Patrick Casey, Connor Furlong, Jesse Akubuine, Nathan Tshikuna and Jack Snelus.
A fantastic crowd of 862 gave a real buzz around the ground and they saw a competitive start to the game. MK Dons moved the ball well and probed the Diamonds well organised defence without breaking through and Diamonds getting forward in wide areas with Connor Furlong prominent.
Both sides had good chances from corners with MK Dons head a knock back just wide from 10 yards and Patrick Casey coming really close to connecting with a right wing corner from a similar distance.
MK Dons gradually started to boss possession and were denied deep into the box a couple of times before being awarded a 23rd minute penalty. A winger cutting inside from the right was tripped on the edge of the box and Josh McEachran converted coolly.
They then wasted a good opportunity from the edge of the box to double the lead on the half-hour before Diamonds threatened through Connor Furlong down the right whose cross was punched away and Courtney Lashley who ran superbly from half way where he was jostled all the way but managed to wriggle past his man and see his cut-back blocked away for a corner.
MK Dons got the second on 38 minutes with Dan kemp surging forward skipping in and out of tackles deep into the box and striking superbly over Dean Snedker into the top corner.
Half-time: Diamonds 0 MK Dons 2
A few changes were made at half-time and with a new striker and a very solid looking midfield trialist introduced along with Ryan Hughes slotting into the back four.
Diamonds started the period brightly and really threatened MK Dons earning a free-kick on 55 minutes that Nathan Tshikuna struck well but just over the bar at The Peter De Banke end. Nathan Hicks (confirmed as one of the trialists) was combining well with Tshikuna and tried to get him through on goal a couple of times before succeeding on 60 minutes. Tshikuna clean through went deep into the box and tried to round the keeper rather than shoot and the keeper managed to block it away.
2 minutes later and MK Dons made it three. Another excellent passing move. The ball was finally laid off on the edge of the box for Nathan Holland to sweep the ball superbly across Dean Snedker into the far corner.
MK Dons then put in a series of excellent moves that had Diamonds working extremely hard to keep the score down. They missed with a point blank header flashing just wide, saw Ryan Hughes cut-out a dangerous cut-back and flashed a dangerous effort just wide when well placed.
Diamonds were still a threat on the break with Connor Furlong wriggling past his man inside the box and seeing his effort from an angle blocked by the keeper and Courtney Lashley again getting away from some rough handling to get to the by-line where his cross just evaded Connor Furlong at the back post.
MK Dons managed a 4th goal on 89 minutes as Ethan Robson struck superbly from inside the box at the end of another devastating move and they should have added a 5th in added on time as Matt Dennis lashed over from just 15 yards.
Full-time: Diamonds 0 MK Dons 4
It was a great atmosphere at Hayden Road and really competitive game that both managers would have wanted. MK Dons superior passing and movement and clinical finishing deservedly won the game but Diamonds who worked really hard defensively deserved a goal from the chances they created.
The trialists pretty much all showed promise including the defensive ones who were under most pressure and will give Andy Burgess food for thought. The stronger looking midfielder and striker in the second half also looked promising and the named former trialists Courtney Lashley and Evan along with Nathan Hicks all looked like contendors for Andy Burgess squad.
Next up a visit to Stamford AFC on Saturday afternoon.
Reporter’s Man of the Match: Connor Furlong
Attendance: 862 (with c.140 tuning in to Radio Diamonds)
Match Report: Paul Judd