MK Dons Under-18s began their 2013/14 Youth Alliance League season with a 1-1 draw at Gillingham last weekend.
Kelvin Osei-Addo’s (pictured) penalty two minutes from the end earned the Young Dons, who finished the match with ten-men, their first point of the year after the Gills had taken the lead early in the first half.
Despite being without midfielder Dele Alli, who scored 18 goals for Dove’s side last season, due to first team commitments and forward Giorgio Rasulo who was away on international duty with England, the Under-18s arrived in Kent full of confidence after a successful pre-season.
All but one member of Saturday’s starting XI featured, in some part, in the 1-0 friendly win over a Tottenham Hotspur XI last month and they began brightly in this one, putting the hosts under immense pressure in the opening five minutes.
Dove’s boys were dominant in terms of possession early on but they couldn’t carve out a clear cut chance and that proved costly on eight minutes when the home side took the lead.
After breaking quickly down the left wing, a cross was played in towards the Gillingham striker who turned the ball in at the near post with a well-struck half volley.
Despite the setback, the Dons continued to control the game with the hosts pretty content to sit back and defend their slender lead. However, although Dove’s youngsters limited the Kent forward line to a handful of half chances for the remainder of the first half they failed, themselves, to test the opposition ‘keeper.
And despite a strong start to the second half, the Dons almost fell two goals behind on the hour mark but for a terrific save from goalkeeper Charlie Burns. Burns, who has handed an extended apprentice deal in the summer, showed great reflexes to deny a point-blank header on the line after the Dons defence was caught out by a deep cross.
The visitors continued to pile on the pressure heading into the final quarter, hoping to breach a stubborn Gillingham who, at times, had all their players back defending deep in their own half.
And finally, with just two minutes remaining of normal time, the Dons found the breakthrough they had been looking for after Summerfield was tripped up just inside the penalty area. Striker Kelvin Osei-Addo stepped up to take the spot-kick and the youngster made no mistake from 12 yards.
The Dons did lose captain Brendan Galloway late-on after the midfielder picked up his second yellow card for a mistimed tackle but Dove’s boys held on, reasonably comfortably, to secure their first point of 2013/14.
MK Dons Under-18s (4-2-1-3): Burns; Grant, Tingey, Galloway (c), Osae; Wiltshire, Weston; Summerfield; Tilney (Daffern 88), Osei-Addo, Okito (Tshimanga 57).
Taylor (GK), Vaughan.Subs: