Milton Keynes Dons Under-18s ended up on the wrong end of the scoreline in a seven-goal thriller against Stevenage on Saturday morning.
The Dons were left to reflect on what might have been after they let slip a two goal lead in the Youth Alliance League fixture at Woughton on the Green.
The hosts made three changes from their 4-4 draw away to Peterborough the previous weekend, with Luke Tingey, Jacob Daffern and Will Summerfield coming in for Aaron Weston, Giorgio Rasulo and Laurence Vaughan.
In another eventful match, the Dons took the lead inside two minutes after Jacob Daffern took advantage when a Stevenage player gave the ball away in a dangerous area, finishing low into the net to get Mike Dove’s side off to the ideal start.
A golden opportunity to double their advantage arrived the Dons way on 17 minutes when they awarded a penalty after striker Kabongo Tshimanga had his legs taken away from him inside the area.
Kelvin Osei-Addo, who was on a good run of goal-scoring form having netted a hat-trick during the Under-18s last outing stepped up, however his penalty off a short run-up was saved low to the left with relative ease by the Boro’ keeper.
The hosts did not let the missed penalty deter them though and eventually they doubled their advantage on 25 minutes.
A square ball from Tshimanga on the right found right-back Ben Grant, who had moved upfield during the attack and found himself in space and had time to take a touch and finish low in composed fashion to make it 2-0.
The visitors were increasingly finding a foothold in the game and the Hertfordshire side reduced the deficit on 41 minutes when their number 10 received the ball in a forward position and lobbed Dons keeper Charlie Burns to make the score 2-1 at the interval.
There was then another early goal just after half-time as Stevenage levelled the game at 2-2 when their number 11 ended up through one-on-one with Burns. He took advantage of the situation and finished into the roof of the net for the equaliser.
Stevenage completed the turnaround four minutes later as a stunned Dons conceded for the third time in ten minutes playing time, when good play down the right led to a square ball being played to their number 6 whose low shot trickled into the net despite Burns getting a hand on the ball.
The Dons were not deterred and continued to carve out chances however they were unable to find the finish and were made to pay on 70 minutes with what turned out to be the crucial goal in the game.
A long goal-kick from the Stevenage keeper bounced just outside the box, and after the hosts failed to clear the danger the ball came to their number 10 who scored his second of the game with another high-quality finish that was flighted into the net out of Dons substitute keeper Ben Taylor’s reach.
Once again, the Dons responded well to the setback and pulled a goal back two minutes later when the ball came to Brendan Galloway on the edge of the box.
Galloway beat a couple of Stevenage players before rolling the ball into the unguarded net to make the score 4-3, however the Dons could not find a leveller as they once again lost a high-scoring affair.
Dons Director of Youth Dove said: “We started very well and got an early goal. I was very pleased with our play and the changes in shape and personnel helped keep things fresh.
“It was a shame about the missed penalty, but I have spoken to Kelvin and with hindsight it would have been better if he had put his foot through it rather than try the short approach.
“We could have been 3-0 up on another day, and then we rather lost our way due to some confusion at the back for their goals.”
MK Dons (4-3-3): Burns (Taylor 55): Grant, Hickford (capt), Galloway, Tilney: Tingey, Daffern (Vaughan 46), Wiltshire: Osei-Addo, Summerfield, Tshimanga.
Subs not used: Collinge, Owusu.
Goals: Daffern 1, Grant 25, Galloway 72.