MK Dons Under-18s slipped to a second successive defeat on Saturday morning, losing 5-3 to Peterborough United.
Mike Dove’s side, who welcomed Dele Alli back into the starting XI after his spell away with England Under-17s, travelled to Cambridgeshire looking to bounce back from their disappointing result away at Stevenage the previous weekend.
The hosts, though, started the brightest and they took lead after just six minutes with a far post header, after the Dons had given the ball away cheaply down the right flank.
The Young Dons responded, however, and four minutes later they were back on level terms courtesy of Ben Grant (pictured), who netted his second goal in as many games with a first-time finish from the corner of the box after some good play from Mo Ahmed.
Despite the goal, Dove’s men failed to get a grip on the game and their sloppy play was once again punished, this time from a rebound after ‘keeper Charlie Burns did well to save an initial effort from the right-hand side.
The Posh’s lead was then doubled on the half-hour mark, with another free header at the far post after Harry Hickford had given away a free-kick in a dangerous position.
Director of Youth Dove was keen to ensure his players didn’t drop their heads at the interval and he encouraged them to keep working hard and continue playing their patient football.
Although the Dons did start the second period in a much-livelier fashion, the home team made it 4-1 in the 54th minute after a defence-splitting ball from midfield was well finished by the pacy Posh striker.
Alli, who looked to be tiring having played three games in a week for England, was replaced on the hour by Aaran Weston, a change which saw captain Spence move into an unfamiliar position in-front midfield.
The switch paid dividends three minutes later when Spence found Will Summerfield out on the left wing, whose firm pass into the box that was deflected in by Kelvin Osei-Addo to reduce the arrears.
Any hope of a dramatic comeback quickly vanished, however, when Hickford turned a fierce cross into his own net to reinstate the three-goal deficit.
The Dons did grab a consolation goal in the closing stages courtesy of Spence, who blasted home a penalty after a handball in the Posh penalty area, but it wasn’t enough for Dove’s side who go into tonight’s game with Southend United without a win in three.
After the match, their manager, Dove, said: “We can’t complain with the result, Peterborough United deserved the victory.
“They looked more organised and much more energy than us. They showed great technique and on the day they were better than us, simple as that.
“I can’t put my finger on why we didn’t seem to turn up, we just looked tired and therefore we were unable to match them.”
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Burns; Spence, Hickford, Tingey, Osae (Forrester 46); Ahmed, Wiltshire; Alli (Weston 62); Galloway, Osei-Addo, Summerfield (Tilney 74).