MK Dons Under-18s were eliminated from the FA Youth Cup at the Second Round stage by their Rochdale counterparts as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at The Crown Oil Arena.
Edu Rubio made two changes to the side that overcame Long Eaton United 2-1 in Round One with Delsin Ackon and Finlay Brennan replacing Jack Hourican-Harvey and Jack Davies in the starting line-up.
Dylan Asonganyi lined up alongside Charlie Pattison and Jenson Wright in midfield with Recoe Martin leading the line.
It was the home side who had the opening chance of the game with a handful of corners being cleared by Matthew Sorinola and Jamal Sule.
Asonganyi had the first shot on goal for Rubio’s side as he drove from midfield before forcing Morgan Piper into a strong save.
Asonganyi was once again involved when his pass found the unmarked Jay Bird who had his curling effort blocked by the Rochdale defence.
Having played out from the back well following that block, Lewis Bradley found himself with time and space to deliver a cross into the box. His perfectly weighted pass found the run of Fabio Tavares who headed past Jones to give his side the lead on eight minutes. 1-0.
Rochdale almost doubled their lead two minutes later when Alfie Jones produced a stunning point-blank save to deny Bradley.
Jones was once again called into action as he tipped over from Adejuwon Hamzat’s powerful header.
After some clever footwork from Wright, the midfielder picked out Asonganyi on the edge of the box, however, just as the 17-year-old was shaping to shoot he was disposed.
The Dons were starting to find their feet in the encounter and could’ve had a penalty when Martin went down inside the box after pressure from James Neild, but play was waved on.
Goalscorer Tavares was left frustrated after Jones produced yet another impressive save as the striker was one-on-one.
Asonganyi had the chance to bring the Dons level as he shaped up for a free-kick 20-yards from goal. He opted to cross the ball but was unable to find the head of a teammate.
Jones, who was impressive all night between the sticks, then produced an acrobatic save to deny Harrison Hooper before claiming the rebound off the chest of Jamie Robinson.
Wright came within inches of levelling the scoring when his dipping effort ended narrowly over Piper’s bar.
The final chance of the first-half fell the way of Rochdale as Hopper hit the side netting from Bradley’s pass.
Martin had a wonderful chance to bring MK Dons level just three minutes into the second-half. It all came after some great work by Ackom on the right who beat a number of defenders before picking up the unmarked Martin – his shot finished over the bar.
With 53-minutes on the clock Rochdale were down to 10 men when Hooper was shown a straight red for a two-footed lunge on Pattison.
Looking to take advantage of their man advantage, the Dons pushed on looking for a way past the resilient Dale defence as Bird’s effort from range ended just wide of the post.
Hourican-Harvey, who replaced Brennan at the break, tried his luck from all of 40-yards but failed to find the target.
Jones made another impressive save as he tipped over Bradley’s dipping volley from range.
Despite coming under constant pressure from the Dons, it was Rochdale who grabbed the second goal in the tie. The ball fell kindly to Florian Yonsian who curled a left-footed effort past Jones. 2-0.
Charlie Pattison attempted to bring the Dons back into the game when he controlled Tom Rowley's cross on his chest before his effort was saved by Piper.
They looked to have found a way past Piper when Martin's shot cannoned off the post into the path of Asonganyi who tapped home from close range - however, the offside flag was raised.
With a minute left to play Holmes had his right-footed strike deflected over the bar.
Starting XI: Jones, Ackom (Holmes, 74), Sorinola, Pattison, Sule, Brennan (Hourican-Harvey, 46), Robinson, Wright, Martin, Asonganyi, Bird.
Unused Subs: Rose (GK), Rose, Davies, Rowley.