Milton Keynes Dons Under-16s produced a battling performance but ultimately came up short against an impressive Arsenal Under-16s side who claimed the Jim & Gwen Mann Challenge Cup with a 4-1 win.
Giorgio Rasulo was the star performer on the night for the Dons, however, despite his goal the hosts slipped to a brave defeat against an impressive Gunners side.
The visitors took the lead inside the first ten minutes of the match after a good passing move through the midfield area found Harry Donovan. He finished coolly across the keeper and into the bottom right corner to give the Gunners the lead.
The North Londoners were impressing in the opening stages with Ovie Ejaria looking lively and having a couple of early efforts.
However, the Dons started to grow into the game and had their best opportunity of the on the quarter hour mark when Kabongo Tshimanga was through one-on-one only to see his effort blocked by Gunners keeper Harry Girling.
Arsenal continued dominating with Olufela Olomola having a couple of decent efforts; however midway through the first half Dan Micciche’s side levelled the match.
The ball was picked up on the edge of the area by one of the more experienced players in the Dons youth set-up, Rasulo, who picked up the ball, ran into the box and finished well past Girling.
The visitors were not to be deterred and retook the lead just before the break following a good run down the left hand side from Chris Willock. He squared the ball to Ejaria who tapped into an
It was the Dons who started the second half on the front foot though and they created a great chance for an equaliser just before the hour mark when Rasulo’s free-kick clipped the outside of the post and went wide.
Rasulo was proving the Dons outstanding player and was once again at the heart of the action soon after, playing the ball through to captain Kyran Wiltshire who was adjusted marginally offside.
The Dons were beginning to dominate and created another great chance midway through the second period when Rasulo jinked into the box and forced a save from Girling, who pushed the rebound into the path of Tshimanga who could not force the ball home.
The crucial moment in the match came with fifteen minutes remaining, when against the run of play the visitors made it 3-1. Good play down the right hand side led to a ball into the box where substitute Stephy Mauididi easily dispatched the chance to make the game safe for the Gunners.
The Dons continue to pluck away with Tshimanga impressing, however the scoreline was given a slightly lopsided look when more nice build-up from the visitors allowed the ball to find a way through to substitute Tyrell Robinson whose shot was deflected in off a Dons defender to make the final score 4-1.
Overall, it was a good performance from the Dons however ultimately the visitors greater finishing prowess swung the match in their favour.
MK Dons (4-3-3): King: Walsh (Taylor 45), Okito (Lloyd 66), Wiltshire (capt, Danso 80), Tingey: Weston, Tilney, Daffern (Logan 53): Tshimanga, Rasulo, Vaughan (Collinge 80).
Subs not used: Van Der Schoot, Hadden, Brittain.
Arsenal: Girling (Addai 45), Moore, Bola (Mauididi 56), Smith, Dobson, O’Connor, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Olomola (Eyoma 56), Donovan (Robinson 56), Ejaria (Johnson 56).
Ref: Carl Henry.