Milton Keynes Dons Under-18s were knocked out of the Football League Youth Alliance Cup following a 5-1 defeat against Portsmouth in the quarter-final.
The Dons made four changes from the side which came from behind to beat Luton Town in the league in their last match three weeks ago, with Amiel King replacing the injured Charlie Burns in goal, Brendan Galloway returning from suspension in place of Kyron Walsh and Ben Grant and Giorgio Rasulo replacing Jay Taylor and Kabongo Tshimanga respectively.
Despite taking an early lead through captain Mason Spence, the Dons suffered defeat courtesy of five second-half goals in a match where the final score was not necessarily a true reflection of the pattern of play.
The Dons got off to the perfect start when they took the lead after just two and a half minutes. After a good run from left-back Jon Osae down the flank, his cross picked out Spence who slotted the ball into the net.
The hosts took advantage of their early momentum in the game and dominated the first twenty minutes, however the visitors began into grow into the match and by half-time were on top, although the Dons went into the break with their lead intact.
Pompey remained in the ascendancy at the start of the second half, with Dons keeper King being forced into a good double save to keep the visitors at bay.
However, the pressure finally told as the hour-mark approached when the visitors equalised after a shot from the edge of the area by Bradley Tarbuck went in off the post.
The south coast side then took the lead five minutes later when the impressive Tarbuck chested down a ball into his path, turned on the edge of the area and hit a low shot into the left hand corner of the net for his second goal of the game.
The turning point in the match came in the 77th minute, when Luke Tingey was given a straight red card for a foul on the edge of the area, a decision that seemed harsh on the Dons substitute who had only been on the field for 11 minutes.
As a result of the foul, the visitors had a free-kick in a dangerous position and they took full advantage of it as the impressive Bradley Tarbuck completed his hat-trick with a super set-piece that arrowed straight into the right hand side of the net.
The Dons heads began to drop, and Pompey continued relentlessly piling on the pressure clipping the crossbar with a ball into the area, which thankfully for the hosts bounced away to safety.
It was only a temporary reprieve for the Dons as the visitors scored their fourth goal with nine minutes remaining, as substitute Conor Chaplin finished well on the half volley from inside the area.
The scoreline was then given a rather lop-sided look as Pompey made it five with a minute to go as a square ball from substitute Jae Heon Kim forced Amiel King off his line, leaving an easy tap-in inside the box for Chad Field.
The Dons managed to see the remaining moments out without any further alarms, but the hosts learnt some hard lessons towards the end of a match that ultimately turned after a seemingly soft second-half dismissal.
Afterwards, Director of Youth Mike Dove said: “We started the match very brightly. We looked in control and took an early lead with some good combination play.
“We had other opportunities to score early on, and we dealt well with a bright, hard-working Portsmouth side in the first half. I thought that in the second half we maybe got a bit complacent. We made some bad decisions and gave the ball away in dangerous areas of the pitch.
“As regards the sending off, the official nearest to me actually wrote the foul down as a yellow card because like me he assumed it was just a booking. It was a foul but I don’t think he (Tingey) was the last man and I don’t think that it warranted a red card.
“It was obviously a turning point, especially as they scored directly from the resulting free-kick. In the end, I think we got what we deserved because there were some disappointing individual performances which meant we collapsed towards the end of the game.”
MK Dons (4-2-1-3): King: Spence (c), Hickford, Galloway, Osae: Wiltshire, Ahmed (Tilney 75): Rasulo: Grant, Summerfield (Tingey 66), Osei-Addo (Tshimanga 45).
Subs not used: Taylor, Okito.
Goal: Spence 3