MK Dons Under-18s drew 3-3 with AFC Bournemouth in a topsy-turvy contest at Woughton on the Green on Saturday morning.
In a match where the kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes due to the visitors arriving late, the Dons led twice courtesy of goals from captain Mason Spence (pictured), Kelvin Osei-Addo and Dele Alli, before being pegged back by the Cherries on both occasions.
The hosts made four changes to the side that won 5-4 against Watford two weeks ago, with Kyran Wiltshire, Luke Tingey, Kabongo Tshimanga and Ben Tilney being replaced by Alli, Osei-Addo, Harry Hickford, and Will Summerfield.
The Dons started the match on the front foot and had a great chance to take an early lead inside the first five minutes after some good patient possession football around the penalty area but midfielder Alli’s fierce effort hit the crossbar before bouncing down and out of play.
The hosts were rewarded for their impressive start, though, in the 12th minute as they edged ahead thanks to Spence. After some good passing in the build-up, a cross from the left from Will Summerfield found Spence charging into the area and the Dons skipper struck a sweet half-volley into the back of the net.
Mike Dove’s side continued to move the ball around nicely on a tricky pitch, and Spence, whose confidence was high following his goal, was not afraid to shoot from outside the box, regularly forcing the visitor’s keeper into action.
Against the run of play, however, the Dorset club equalised after a ball a played through to forward Joe Quigley was finished passed the out-stretched arm of Dons keeper Charlie Burns.
The Dons were not to be deterred, though, and instantly retook the lead from the resulting kick-off when a ball found its way to Osei-Addo who placed his low left-footed effort to the right of the Cherries keeper from just inside the box.
The hosts thought they had doubled their lead just before the half-hour mark, however they saw Grant’s strike pulled back for offside.
The third goal did eventually come for the Dons five minutes later following some more good football deep inside the opposition half. After a ball was laid off by Osei-Addo to Giorgio Rasulo, Alli was on hand to finish well following the latter’s cross..
The Dons started the second half brightly and continued to control the match and create chances, the best of these coming on the hour mark when Summerfield had two shots saved by Bournemouth keeper Chad Collins. On the second occasion, the ball came out to Osei-Addo who was unable to finish into an unguarded net.
The Dons were then made to pay when the visitors pulled a goal back with 20 minutes remaining, Antony Harris heading in following a Quigley cross.
Two minutes later and the visitor’s turnaround was completed, as a ball into the area was finished by Sam Matthews to level the game at 3-3.
The game took on an increasingly frantic nature as both sides pressed for the winner, with the Dons coming the closest in stoppage time when they had another effort disallowed. A corner kick played into the area found Brendan Galloway, whose shot was blocked inside a crowded box. Although the rebound was put into the net the assistant referee’s flag was already up and the goal did not stand.
Afterwards, midfielder Dele Alli admitted that the team’s sloppy play in the second half inevitably cost them the three points.
He said: “We should have got three points and we should have kept our heads more. I thought a couple of us, me included, took our foot off the gas in the second half and we paid for it in the end.”
Director of Youth Mike Dove added: “I thought the boys were outstanding in the first half. The type of football they played on what was a really difficult pitch was tremendous.
“I said at half-time that the key was too see things through and not throw the lead away. I thought we started the second half brightly but then we looked as though we were bored.
“Complacency set in and the boys stopped doing the right things and tried other things they normally wouldn’t. That’s all down to youthfulness and immaturity, and it’s about learning how to control the mental aspect of the game.
“As a team, they learnt today they need to produce a 90-minute performance. It’s a game that with due respect to the opposition we should have won so that’s why I’m a bit disappointed with the result.”
MK Dons (4-2-1-3): Burns; Spence (c), Hickford, Galloway, Osae; Ahmed, Alli; Rasulo; Grant, Summerfield, Osei-Addo.
Subs not used: Taylor, Tingey, Wiltshire, Okito, Tshimanga.
Spence 12, Osei-Addo 21, Alli 35.Goals: