MK Dons Under-18s started 2020 with a heavy defeat as they lost 6-1 to Leyton Orient in a match where they played more than half the contest with nine men.
The fixture was moved from the Under-18s’ normal home venue at Woughton due to waterlogged pitches, and was instead played on the all-weather surface at Stantonbury School.
A bad day on the pitch for the Dons took a first turn for the worse in the 15th minute when Charlie Smith was shown a straight red card for a foul on the edge of the penalty area, with the referee believing it was the denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity.
The O’s opened the scoring from the subsequent free-kick despite the initial effort being blocked by the Dons wall. The return ball was clipped into the box and, after a couple of deflections, it came to an O’s player who tapped in from close range. 0-1.
The Londoners had the chance to double their lead a few minutes later from a corner but they were denied from close range, as Dons keeper Tom Carter showed good reflexes to parry away a header.
Dons substitute Austin Collins, who had been brought on as part of a tactical change made after the early red card, created a golden chance for the hosts to equalise when he produced a driving run down the right. He whipped in a dangerous low cross which was skied over the bar by a teammate situated inside the six-yard box.
Just before the half hour mark, the O’s doubled their lead following a neat passing move on the edge of the Dons box, which ended with the visitor’s number 10 slotting the ball into the net at the near post. 0-2.
In the 36th minute, a moment of madness from Dons midfielder Jamie Robinson cost his side dear, as the number seven was sent off for picking up two yellow cards in the space of just three minutes. The first was for a foul tackle and the second came after a physical altercation with an O’s player off the ball.
Five minutes into the second half, Orient made their two-man advantage account and made it three from a set piece. Despite the initial corner being cleared, an O’s player followed up with a strike from around 30 yards out which squirmed past Carter at his near post and into the net. 0-3.
Five minutes later, the Dons got a goal for their efforts when a cross from the left from Rio Deall was bundled in from close range at the back post by Collins. 1-3.
On the hour mark, though, Orient restored their three-goal lead as a thunderous effort from around 30 yards out smacked the underside of the crossbar. The ball may have already bounced over the line off the bar, but an O’s player headed in from close range just to make sure. 1-4.
The latest goal came Leyton Orient’s way in the 77th minute with a shot from around 25 yards out, moments after the Dons made a tactical switch in goal – replacing Carter with Alfie Mumford. 0-5.
In the 81st minute, the O’s made it six as a cross in from the right was finished at the second attempt from close range. 0-6.
Speaking after the match, Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Lee Collier said: “It was a difficult day, especially as we had nine men for more than half of the game.
“We were always going to be up against it as we had a very young squad and I cannot fault the work rate – even when we had nine men we still battled hard.
“The biggest thing that I will take away from today’s match is learning a huge amount about individuals within the group.
“We did a lot of work with the players in the build-up to the game and some of what we worked on was utilised today – it is still a case of me getting my ideas across so there are some positives to take.”
The match with Leyton Orient was the last fixture before the league split and Collier said of the remainder of the season: “I have not really got a target for the merit league.
“We have a few weeks break before that starts so I will have the chance to work with the players on the training ground and then we can go and hopefully start afresh.”
MK Dons: Carter (Mumford 76), Crane, Ogwauzor, Bailey (Collins 20), Leach (c), Smith, Robinson, Rowley, Jallow, Wanguzi, Deall
Unused subs: Holmes, Mann, Cross
Goal: Collins (55)
Sent off: Smith (15), Robinson (36)