Almost exactly two years ago, on the shores of Lake Como, Lewis Baker and Samir Carruthers lined up opposite each other in the second and last ever final* of the Nextgen Series. On Saturday, for the second match running, they lined up alongside each other for MK Dons -- Baker on loan from Chelsea, Carruthers moving to Stadium MK this past summer -- and despite their tender ages (a combined 40), they led the League One promotion contenders to a 4-1 win over Notts County, one better than the midweek 3-1 win over Oldham.
What a performance from the whole team today, Back to what we do best! On a personal Glad to get on the scoresheet and get MOTM #MKArmy— Lewis Baker (@lew_baker) March 21, 2015
Manager Karl Robinson's hand has been forced a bit with an injury and a suspension, but he was nonetheless quite pleased with his decisions to start the pair.
"How they've performed today they were like really mature individuals and I think they need to learn one or two lessons from that. They looked unstoppable and when you've got Pottsy [i.e. Darren Potter] and [Tottenham loanee] Dele [Alli] not playing today, we've not been able to have that before and we would have fell at the hurdle. To be able to bring them two in and perform how they did is great and I'm really happy for them."
"Now Pottsy and Dele are back as well so what a wonderful opportunity we've got to really move forward now. We're only going to get better."
It was Baker's third start and fifth appearance since joining in late February, and, by most accounts, probably his most impressive yet. A rather fantastic goal was just the icing on the cake.
It's unclear what the keeper's doing, but it's quite clear what Baker's doing: turning heads and dropping jaws. Robinson agrees.
"I would have throttled him if that hadn't have gone in! But you need that inner belief and he showed that he has tremendous belief in himself."
"The whole stadium held its breath for about 15 seconds until it dropped in the goal and he's a special player."
Very special, indeed.
* As you might remember, Carruthers' Aston Villa came out on top, with a couple penalty kick goals from Graham Burke, who currently plies his trade on loan at
Strawberry Shrewsbury Town. Both Burke and Carruthers are now 21, Baker is still just 19. The three of them have a combined 3 Premier League appearances, all belonging to Carruthers, and all three from that Nextgen-winning year. Burke has a couple League Cup appearances to his name for Villa, while Baker has the lone FA Cup appearance for Chelsea. Youth development ain't easy or straightforward in the Premier League.