Over 1,000 supporters watched a brave MK Dons Under-15s fall to a 4-1 defeat at stadiummk on Monday night.
Little did the score matter on an evening when two sets of young hopeful footballers were given the freedom to express themselves on the pitch and play an exciting brand of attacking football.
In a close-knit encounter it was the Blues who found themselves on top when Nias Butungu netted a double either side of Dominic Solanke’s tap-in. At 3-0 down though the Dons refused to let their heads drop and Callum Brittain renewed the MK1 boys’ hopes only for Tammy Abraham to round off the victory for Chelsea.
The match was the latest showcase game held at the stadium, which allows the youngsters in the Club to test themselves on a bigger stage and show the fans what the future holds, and it was the Under-15s age group’s opportunity to entertain the Dons supporters.
The starting line-up for the Dons included exciting youth prospects Hugo Logan, who has been called up to the England Under-16s squad, and Kevin Danso, who has recently starred for the Austrian Under-15s national side.
After an early chance for Chelsea, which saw Mukhtar Ali turn a free-kick into the palms of Wim Van Der Schoot, it was the tricky Logan who lit up the game with just four minutes on the clock when his run from deep opened up space only to see his curling shot fall just inches wide of the post.
The football at stadiummk was end to end with both sides full of energy and exuberance as they looked to make a mark on the game. Dan Micciche’s Dons played with great freedom in a free-flowing, attacking system which allowed plenty of rotation at the top end of the pitch, but they faced an athletic and strong Chelsea side packed with young Premier League hopefuls.
On a couple of occasions the powerful front line of Dominic Solanke and Tammy Abraham got the better of the Dons’ defence as they found their way into the box, but a combination of good recovery from the Dons’ rear guard, strong stops from the ‘keeper and some poor finishing kept the score goalless after 20 minutes.
Adam Hunt, playing in the right-back role, looked particularly impressive for the Dons as he handled the pace and strength of Nias Butungu while looking comfortable on the ball.
After some good, attacking football from the Dons, the Blues broke on the counter-attack but had Van Der Schoot to thank for keeping the scoreline level when he pulled off a superb save to deny Butungu from inside the area.
Jack Hadden showed his promise with a great shift up front, playing largely as the hold-up man; the youngster was able to feed his team-mates into great positions. When his through-ball found Kevin Owusu the
Dons seemed destined to call Blues goalie Joe Tupper into action, however, a heavy touch saw him turn his shot just wide.
Just minutes before half-time there was a moment of controversy when Butungu saw a thumping effort from eight-yards come back off the inside of the post and referee Carl Henry waved play on. After consulting with his assistant Lukasz Kowalewski, the referee correctly awarded the goal to the Blues, which saw them carry a 1-0 lead in at the break.
Chelsea, who made three changes at the interval, were able to double their lead less than three minutes into the restart when Van Der Schoot’s fine save, from the strike of Butungu, fell straight into the path of Solanke and with an open goal at his mercy the Blues forward provided a clinical finish.
Buntungu did grab his second, and Chelsea’s third, of the game only a matter of minutes later when Van Der Schoot was again called upon to save on his line and the loose ball fell to Butungu to tap-in from just two-yards out.
As the Dons looked to respond, Danso pushed forward from his deep midfield role in a bid to get the host back in the game.
And the positive response from the Dons when Callum Brittain broke free in the Blues’ box and with a one-on-one opportunity against substitute goalie Jordan Beeney, he provided a cool finish to reduce the deficit.
Kevin Owusu went close to finding a second for the Dons when he was released on the counter-attack and found his way into the Blues’ box. As Beeney stepped off his line, the diminutive forward was forced to a tight angle which in the end proved too difficult as his shot fell off-target after his good work.
With some confidence behind their positive play, the Dons were a dangerous animal. Owusu showed great belief as he fancied his chances from 20-yards out, yet the lift on the shot saw it rise over the bar.
Selfless shifts from Tom Bradbury and skipper Danny Collinge kept the Dons’ forward-thinking football ticking over, while Connor Furlong was a handful as he covered every inch of grass, with the continued ambition to keep the ball on the floor whenever possible.
Just as the Dons’ fightback was gathering some momentum though, a moment of hesitation in defence allowed Abraham to show his tricky feet to dance his way through the penalty area before turning a close-range shot home, courtesy of the right post.
While it may have been a defeat on the evening, the Dons boys could walk away with their heads held high knowing they had given the Premier League academy a tough encounter.
MK Dons Under-15s: Van Der Schoot, Hunt, Bradbury, Danso, Collinge (c), Osei-Bonsu (Omar 56), Brittain (Kiwewesi 77), Hadden (Simmons 77), Owusu, Logan, Furlong.
Subs not used: Taylor, Tshikuna, Asonganyi, Jackson, Schulz.
Goal: Brittain 53
Chelsea Under-15s: Tupper (Gyamfi), Tomori, Ali (a), Clarke-Salter (Benney 46), DaSilva, Sammut, Bakary (Makanjuola 46), Christie-Davies (Butungu 78), Abraham, Solanke, Butungu (Bakary 63).
Goals: Butungu 39, 49, Solanke 44, Abraham 68