MK Dons Under-18s were beaten 4-3 by Southend United on Tuesday evening, in a nail-biting seven-goal thriller at Burroughs Park.
Mike Dove’s side, who were without a win in three going into the clash, made the long journey down to Essex keen to bounce back from their lacklustre performance against Peterborough United on the weekend.
Despite the tricky conditions, which were making things difficult for either side to grab a foothold on the game, the hosts took the lead courtesy of Kane Farrell, who slotted past Burns inside the opening 10 minutes.
The Dons, though, pulled a goal back soon after through Kelvin Osei-Addo (pictured), the young striker showing great composure to fire past Shrimpers ‘keeper Ted Smith after being allowed space and time inside the Southend box.
Osei-Addo could have doubled his tally moments later after wriggling his way past the home defence, but his shot was straight at Smith, who comfortably saved.
Firmly in control of the game, the Dons went in search of the lead and they almost found it through captain Mason Spence, but after collecting the ball from Dele Alli’s short free-kick, the 18-year-old blasted his shot wide.
Dove’s side were then made to pay for their missed chances when Southend re-took the lead mid-way through the first half, Jack Bridge netting after Jon Osae lost possession deep inside the Dons’ third.
The Dons then had Brendan Galloway to thank for keeping the scores as they were, after the England Under-17 international did brilliantly to prevent Kane Farrell from shooting with a superb last-ditch tackle.
Moments later, Galloway’s defending was made all the more important when the Dons were awarded a penalty just before half-time following a foul on Alli by Dan King. The young midfielder, who had just spent the last two weeks away with England, dusted himself off to take the spot-kick, finishing it cooly past Smith.
Both ‘keepers were then called into action before the break, Burns pulling off an excellent diving save to prevent Brandon Scott while Smith did well to block Spence’s shot at the other end.
Like in the first half, the Dons started the second period bright and almost found the lead through Spence’s stinging effort, but Smith once again proved tough to beat, turning the ball round the upright.
Despite having the better of possession, and indeed the chances, the Dons failed to punish the Shrimpers and after seventy-minutes they fell behind for a third time when Farrell found the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Dan Matsuzaka then added a fourth for the visitors in stoppage time to secure the win before Osei-Addo added a consolation in the last minute of the game with sweeping finish.
After the game, manager Dove said: “Both teams did well dealing with difficult pitch and weather conditions. I felt our play deserved much more than what we’ve got but, at the end of the day, Southend took their chances and we didn’t.
“I’m still very proud of the boys because they stuck to their philosophy and they continued to play their football despite the state of the pitch. Forgetting the result it was a very positive evening and I’m still pleased.”
MK Dons (4-2-1-3): Burns; Grant, Hickford, Galloway, Osae; Ahmed, Alli; Spence (c); Summerfield (Daffern 84), Osei-Addo, Tilney (Okito 70).
Taylor, TingeyUnused subs:
*MK Dons would like to thank Brian Jeeves for assisting with this report