'Outstanding' youngsters impress Watson in Dons' win over Northampton
Eight MK Dons players made their debuts for the club on Tuesday night, and none of them looked out of place, much to the delight of Ian Watson.
The MK Dons assistant head coach oversaw the side beat Northampton Town 3-2 at Stadium MK to secure their spot atop Bristol Street Motors Trophy Group N with a 100 per cent record, thanks to second-half goals from Charlie Waller, Darragh Burns and Dawson Devoy.
With four academy products making their first starts, and four more coming off the bench to make their first appearances too, Watson felt the good overall performance against the Cobblers was capped by the strong showing from the youngsters.
"The young players came in and really stuck to our identity," he said. "You couldn't tell the difference from watching us in previous weeks to tonight in terms of how we set up how we want to play and how we want to play the game and dominate the ball.
"Everyone was outstanding, especially the young players in the way they handled themselves.
"Coming into it, we asked the boys to put in a performance. You can't control the result, but you can the performance and that's what we got."
Much-maligned as a competition, Dons' spot in the next round was already secured prior to kick-off, but the win ensured a home draw second-round.
The club's first piece of silverware came in this competition back in 2008 with a famous day at Wembley, and a trip to the national stadium is something Watson, Mike Williamson and first-team coach Chris Bell are familiar with, having led former club Gateshead to the final of the FA Trophy last term, where they lost to Halifax.
But with the carrot of the grand final in the offing, Watson said: "Any trip to Wembley is really special, and any competition where that is the prize is worth going for.
"We had the fortune of going there with Gateshead last season, and it was an unbelievable day for everyone, even though we didn't get the result.
"The chance to get that again is something we want, we want to give everyone that moment. The fans might never have it again, so if we can do that with MK Dons, we'd love to do it."