MK Dons finished second in Checkatrade Trophy Group F after they fell to a defeat at the hands of a strong Norwich City outfit.
With the Dons’ place in the knock-out stages already confirmed heading into the game, all that was left to play for was who would finish top and it was the incumbent Canaries who secured it courtesy of a 4-1 victory at Carrow
Despite the result, the game will always be fondly remembered by first-year scholar Finn Tapp, who not only made his first-team debut but also found the net.
Fifteen Dons Academy graduates/players were included in the squad for the clash in chilly conditions in Norfolk.
Norwich, meanwhile, named Scotland international Steven Whittaker, Michael Turner, Josh Murphy and Nelson Oliveira in their starting XI.
Dons had frustrated their experienced opponents during the opening exchanges, however, the Canaries took the lead courtesy of a quick counter on 12 minutes, which was superbly rounded off by Carlton Morris.
The men from MK1 responded but GC Williams couldn’t pick out a team-mate and Brandon Thomas-Asante saw a shot blocked as the game began to even out.
At the other end, Giorgio Rasulo got his body in the way of a fierce Sergi Canos strike before Lee Nicholls comfortably saved from Ray Grant after being fed by Josh Murphy, who then curled well wide.
As the game approached the midway point of the half, the Dons almost caught their hosts out but after good work from Powell to steal the ball and tee up Kabongo Tshimanga, the youngster was denied by a good block.
The Canaries hit back and Oliveira fired a 25-yard drive on to the roof of the net, but the Portugal international went one better on 38 minutes when he fired home from the penalty spot after Jack Hendry was adjudged to have fouled Morris.
Looking for an immediate response, GC Williams came close to finding Thomas-Asante after pouncing on a loose ball and breaking forward from midfield.
The Dons started the second half brightly and created two early opportunities, both of which Powell was heavily involved. Firstly, a cross was put behind as he aimed to find a team-mate before he was denied by Ben Killip after being put through one-on-one.
Thomas-Asante cross then fired over before Powell mis-timed GC Williams’ delivery as the men from MK1 continued to look for a way back into the game.
However, the Canaries maintained their threat at the other end and Oliveira went close before extending the lead on 63 minutes, tapping home after Canos’ initial shot had been saved.
Paul Downing rose well to meet a free-kick from GC Williams but he couldn’t direct it on target – that proved to be his last involvement with Saturday’s game at home to Walsall in mind.
Tapp was the man to replace Downing as the first-year scholar made his senior debut – one which he marked in style as he scored on 84 minutes, firing home from close range after GB Williams’ header had been superbly saved.
Callum Brittain was also introduced for his first-team debut in the final 10 minutes as 11 Academy graduates/players featured in the game.
Norwich restored their three-goal lead on 86 minutes when Ebou Adams found the back of the net with a fierce strike from distance.
Nicholls; GB Williams (c) (Brittain 86), Hendry (Jackson 76), Downing (Tapp 76), Tilney; Rasulo, Osei-Bonsu; Powell, GC Williams, Thomas-Asante; Tshimanga.
Burns, Furlong, Logan, Nombe.