MK Dons Under-18s recorded their fourth straight victory this past weekend, with a 3-2 win over Crawley Town.
A second half hat-trick from Under-16s striker Kabongo Tshimanga saw the Dons, who were without key players Brendan Galloway and Giorgio Rasulo, come from behind to seal three points on a cold Saturday morning in West Sussex.
Mike Dove’s side started brightly and imposed their style of play on the hosts early on, forcing them to sit back and defend for large parts of the opening 15 minutes.
The Dons’ early possession was almost justly rewarded when Harry Hickford found himself with a golden chance to open the scoring, but the defender opted to take a touch instead of pulling the trigger and the opportunity passed him by.
The visitors were then made to pay moments later when, after a neat bit of play from the Red Devils, their striker was able to break through into the box and the Crawley youngster was able to powerfully shoot past Burns from 10 yards.
This seemed to provide the home team with a lift and they managed to extend their lead on the brink of half-time after Kyran Wiltshire was adjudged to have fouled an onrushing Crawley midfielder inside the area.
Burns, who had made a fantastic point blank save earlier in the half, wasn’t able to get to the spot kick which meant the Dons found themselves 2-nil down at the break, much to the dismay of manager Dove.
Unhappy with the way the players had performed for the past half an hour, Dove was keen to encourage his players to return to their normal ways in order to preserve their winning run.
The youngsters responded and 15 minutes into the second period Tshimanga was able to muscle his way through the Crawley defence and cooly finish past the home ‘keeper to reduce the deficit. The 16-year-old, who put in a man of the match performance in his target man role, reacted quickest after a short free-kick from Mo Ahmed, and showed great composure to beat the opposition goalie from 6 yards.
Tshimanga then doubled his tally for the afternoon ten minutes later after some neat play from midfield pair Ahmed and Wilshire. Following a spell of one-touch interplay mid-way inside the Crawley half, Wiltshire was able to switch the ball out to an unmarked Hickford on the right flank and the defenders cross fell perfectly for Tshimanga, who expertly controlled the high ball on his chest before tapping home after lobbing the on-rushing ‘keeper.
The turnaround was finally completed in stoppage time when Tshimanga raced onto a flick on from wide-man Ben Grant – the young forward once again outmuscling his opponent before lashing a right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner.