MK Dons Under-18s travelled to Watford on Saturday morning where they were beaten 3-0 by the Hertfordshire-side.
Watford, a team Mike Dove’s side are more than familiar with having played them before in previous years, opened the scoring midway through the first half before sealing the win with two goals in 10 minutes in the second.
Despite the loss, the Dons played a lot better than they had done in the previous games and looked as if they were getting closer to adapting to the Elite Player Performance Plan changes.
The Dons started the game with an experienced line-up that included Mason Spence, Dele Alli and Brendan Galloway, who have all been involved within the first team in previous weeks, were keen to take the game to Watford starting with a three-pronged attack that included young Georgio Rasulo.
The Under 18’s started brightly, looking to play out from the back at any given opportunity but struggled to create anything in the final third that would threaten the Watford defence.
The Dons lack of cutting edge was punished six minutes before half-time when a Watford corner was taken short, allowing the Hornets youngster time to pinpoint his cross perfectly to the only free man in the box who was able to lash home to give the home side the lead.
Watford lead into the break despite the game being very balanced with the Dons arguably playing the better football.
Despite the continued hard-work and decent football from the Young Dons they fell further behind on the hour mark after being caught out through the middle which allowed the Watford full-back to get free and make it two for the Hornets.
The Dons tried to change things by bringing on Jacob Daffern in place of Georgio Rasulo but it didn’t prevent Watford from grabbing a third ten minutes later from the penalty spot.
After the Hornets forward broke free, defender Harry Hickford committed himself to a sliding tackle within the penalty area but was adjudged to have brought down the player, forcing the referee to point to the spot. To make matters worse, Hickford was then shown the red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity reducing the Dons to ten men for the final 20 minutes.
The Watford player made no mistakes from the spot, increasing the lead to three and effectively wrapping up the victory for the hosts.
The Dons, now a man down, defended resolutely and bravely to prevent further punishment but didn’t have enough in them to grab a consolation and the result left Dove’s youngsters without a win in three.
Despite the defeat, Director of Youth Dove believed there were a lot more positives to take from the game than in previous weeks and praised a couple of his standout performers.
“I feel there are more positives we can take from this game than we could from the last two.
“We’ve worked on some things in training this week and I felt that came across in the game; they did exactly what was required of them.”
“Charlie Burns in particular who has worked extremely hard in training and it definitely showed, along with Harry before his sending off.
“Obviously we’re disappointed with conceding from set piece and with the second goal but we’ll work and go again next week but it was much better than last week."
MK Dons (4-2-1-3): Burns; Spence (c), Grant, Hickford, Tilney; Alli (Foster 81), Galloway; Summerfield; Tshimanga, Rasulo (Daffern 67), Osei-Addo.
Subs not used: King, Whiltshere, Logan.