Milton Keynes Dons Under-18s endured a difficult day at the office as they were beaten 5-1 by Exeter City in the Youth Alliance League at Woughton-on-the-Green on Saturday.
The Grecians opened the scoring just three minutes in after getting in behind the Dons defence. Although the first chance was saved by keeper George Rose, a follow-up chance 30 seconds later saw keeper Rose lobbed by an effort from the right corner of the box. 0-1.
The hosts were forced into an early change when Jenson Wright went off with a serious-looking injury in the 8th minute.
Exeter doubled their lead in the 17th minute when a free-kick from the right was played deep to the left post and headed back across goal before being headed in from close range. 0-2.
Ten minutes later Exeter scored again courtesy of a curling shot from 20 yards out, despite Rose's best attempts, the strike was just out of the young shot-stopper's reach. 0-3.
The visitors were totally dominating the game with the Dons allowed very little possession and consequently not creating chances.
Whenever the hosts did get the ball, they were constantly pressed by a disciplined Exeter side who extended their advantage in the 36th minute with a good passing move which was finished from inside the box. 0-4.
The Dons made a further two tactical substitutions before half-time in an effort to change the pattern of the match.
A rare Dons chance came in first-half stoppage time after a fumble by the Exeter keeper which came out to Dons sub Recoe Martin – his strike could only find the side netting.
Five minutes into the second half the Dons got a goal back when a ball across the box was finished at the far post by Brad Bell. 1-4.
Exeter restored their four-goal advantage in the 65th minute when a set-piece was played into the box and rolled home 8-yards from goal. 1-5.
After the Edu Rubio told mkdons.com, "The opposition were considerably better than us in the first half an hour and they had the game won in that time.
"The second half was very even and what we expected for 90 minutes. We lost the game ourselves in the first half an hour through set pieces and then a good strike from them."
"At half-time, we said it would be very difficult to come back and win but we wanted to end with our heads high and we did that.
"We always knew today would be difficult because Exeter are probably the best team in the league. I hope the players will learn about the importance of staying in the game and never giving up even if it is a seemingly lost cause.
"Conceding goals from set pieces happens but it is how we react and we needed to react better when we went two down early on."
MK Dons XI: Rose: Ackom (Bird 27), Leach, Hope (Martin 37), Sorinola: Tapp: Bell, Wright (Robinson 10, Brennan 65), Kasumu, Sole: Evans.
Booked: Kasumu, Bird.
Goals: Bell 50.