Milton Keynes Dons Under-18s produced a mature performance as they beat Dagenham & Redbridge 3-0 in the Youth Alliance League at Woughton on the Green on Saturday morning.
A first-half goal from Ben Grant, followed by a second-half own goal and a late strike from Mo Ahmed gave the Dons a deserved three points against the Daggers.MK Dons (4-2-1-3): Burns: Spence (capt), Galloway, Hickford, Osae: Ahmed, Wiltshire: Summerfield: Grant (Tingey 80), Tilney (Forrester 73), Osei-Addo (Weston 90).
Subs not used: King, Okito.
Goals: Grant 21, own goal 63, Ahmed 90
"Remy had to have an operation on his groin area and has been out since the early stages of the season. It is a difficult time when you are out for a long period of time but he has done tremendously. He has been training with us for a couple of weeks, he played twenty minutes today and hopefully we will get 45 minutes out of him during our next match against Watford."
Remy Forrester came off the bench for the under-18s during the second half in what was his first appearance since the reverse fixture against the Daggers last August. Dove explained:
"I was really pleased that the team kept going even though we were creating chances and not always finishing them off. In the end, we kept a clean sheet and so the performance really did tick all the boxes."
"The work rate was excellent and the discipline was good. To play the football and score the goals we did on what was a difficult pitch given the weather recently, I take my hat off to the players. It was brilliant.
After the match, Director of Youth Mike Dove said: "It was great that we got the win but the biggest thing today was that we achieved the targets that we had set in the build-up to the match.
The Dons then kept the Daggers at bay for the remainder of the game, and completed the victory in stoppage time when the ball was squared to Mo Ahmed on the right hand side of the penalty area. Ahmed then stroked the ball into the bottom left corner of the net finishing well across Dagenham keeper Cain Davies to seal the points.
The Dons had a good chance to score a decisive third goal midway through the second half when they were awarded a free-kick in a good shooting position. The ball was laid off to left-back Jon Osae whose shot struck the left-hand post.
After the break, both teams created some good scoring opportunities however on each occasion the finish was lacking. It was the Dons though who doubled their lead in somewhat fortuitous fashion courtesy of an own goal just after the hour mark when the ball was crossed in from the right hand side, and a Dagenham player finished into their own net.
The hosts regained the momentum of the match following their early goal with Spence and Kelvin Osei-Addo both squandering good opportunities to double the Dons advantage before half-time.
The Dons managed to weather the early storm and took the lead against the run of play after 21 minutes when a cross from the right hand side of the pitch from captain Mason Spence was finished in a neat and composed fashion by Grant.
It was the Londoners who started the match on the front foot creating several good chances in the early stages, with the best of these coming after eight minutes when a header from a corner clipped the outside of the post before bouncing away to safety.
The Dons made two changes to the side beaten in the Football League Youth Alliance Cup quarter-final against Portsmouth a week earlier, with Charlie Burns replacing Amiel King in goal and Ben Tilney coming in for Giorgio Rasulo on the left flank.